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My Horse Turns And Kicks At Me

She writes:

I have read several e-mails you have written to others and I am hoping you can help me. I recently bought a 9yr bay QH mare from the local auction. She is huge and very beautiful. She is almost like a puppy dog untill you try to get her to do something. Then she turns into the horse from the dwelling place of demons!

I started out riding her with a turnnose and other than having NO control over her she was fine with it. I have tried several bits & hacks since. Either she will not respond to them (hacks) or she acts like a wild bronco (bits). She stans beautifully to be saddled, but hates taking the bit. when you get on her she becomes barn sour and refuses to move. Once you get away from the barn, she looks for any reason to act up, flies, muddy ground, mesquitos....anything.

So I decided to try ground work. As far as I can tell, she has never been on a lunge line and when you try to move her out, she turns to kick you with BOTH hind feet.

As long as you treat her like a pet, you can pull her tail, pick up any of her feet, and even bite her ear. She does not care. I am not in the shape I was when I was an expert rider (25 yrs and 80 lbs make a big difference) and I have been away from horses for far too long a time. I NEED her to be a steady stable riding horse and if she cannot I will have to take her back and sell her.


My reply...

Your mare has some serious respect issues. Turning and kicking at you with both feet when you ask her for something tells me that. And keep in mind I say that from a few time zones away knowing very little about the two of you other than what I read in your Email.

The first thing I would do with her is run her through my bonder procedure. I cannot believe how often I say that, but the bonder puts the horse and me in an enhanced mentally connected relationship that allows us to work easier through any problems we may have.

I do not know the extent of this mare's kicking. It could be anything from a slight tossing of the hips to a full blown flat out attacking dual kick. Nor do I know your ability to deal with it. I would not take any chances with her. I'd go to Home Depot and get a 8 foot piece of 1 inch PVC pipe and keep it with me in the pen as a staff, extension of my being and as a club if I should happen to need it. The aggressive kicking must be stopped.

I'd tell her to move out according to the bonder scenario. The first time she turned her butt to me and even "looked" like she was going to kick, I'd vigorously apply the PVC to her butt with a very loud and angry, "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING???"

Whoa! Just listen to ol "take it nice and easy" me! I'm actually advocating whacking away on a horse! Yep, I sure am. In a case like this, a disrespect attack must be immediately answered. But instead of pain, well, not that much of it anyway, we are going to be using surprise and noise. I doubt if it will take more than one swat to get her to do what you want because it will be so unexpected she will move away before she realizes what she has done. As long as she "looks" like she might kick *AND* YOU ARE SURE SHE WON'T ACTUALLY CONNECT WITH YOU scream at her and apply the pipe.

I'm not sure if you are using the lunge line in your round pen or not. The horse should be bareheaded when doing the bonder. Not even a halter, because even without a lead line a halter has some residual psychological power. Once you get her moving around the pen and get the bonder started, it should go textbook to completion.

I have a DVD that covers disrespect issues in details. It is an actual session where a young frightened owner gains the respect of her disrespectful horse. Gaining The Respect Of Disrespectful Horses

When the bonder is completed I'd do a lot of facial massaging. I'd rub the daylights out of her cheeks, jowls, nose, her whole head. I'd devote most of my massaging time to her mouth. I'd run my fingers in her mouth (cautiously, there ARE sharp teeth in there), along her gums, the roof of her mouth, top of her tongue (both through the bit channel of course, those molars and incisors can flat make you weep). If she resists and moves away, send her around a time or two and let her come back to you and then go at it again. Soon, you'll be VERY familiar with her mouth and she will accept you in it.

NOW we examine her teeth. We will look for wolf and canine teeth in the bit path. If we do not see any, we'll examine the gum line for un-erupted teeth, or incompletely removed teeth, under the skin.

When we are certain there aren't any and the mouth is apparently broken, cracked or split teeth, no rotted ones, no teeth opposite of any missing teeth, no abscesses, no cheek lacerations...we'll fix up a bridle with a plain snaffle (no reins at first), making sure the snaffle thickness is not greater than the distance between the mare's bottom gumline and the roof of her mouth.

If we find nothing out of whack, we put the bridle on her. I'll bet you'll notice a difference in the way she bridles. At this point, I would do the bonder AGAIN while she was wearing the bridle. Having gone through it once, she would go through it faster. If she pitched a fit I'd get out of the way until she stopped or at least slowed down enough for me to take control of her movement then commence the bonder.

When the bonder is completed again, I'd practice leading her (without any leadline) for a bit then I'd saddle her without restraining her. I'd lead her around a bit more while tacked then call it quits for that session.

At the next session I'd repeat what I had done so far and when I reached this point again, with the reins on, I'd get a mounting block and practice mounting and dismounting and varying the length of time I sat on her. I would ask her to do nothing. If she moved off while I was on her I'd let her go. I would not touch the reins unless it looked like I was in danger, I would do everything I could to sit there until she stopped. Then I'd dismount, lead her back to the block and practice dismounting and mounting more.

I'd vary the whole thing as much as I could. I'd mix my actual mounting with a lot of playing around...put my foot in the stirrup, pull it back out, get off the block, lead her around, get back up on the block, start to mount, dismount, restart to mount. I'd just get her double used to being monkeyed around with while making sure there was no predictable pattern to my actions. If she can't predict what you are going to do next, she won't be able to go to the next step before you are ready, she will learn to be aware of the now and not the future. I'd then end this session.

I'd read "Lyons On Horses" (ISBN 0-385-41398-X) Pages 109 to 118. Commit the concepts to memory then go at session 3. The horse will go through the bonder rapidly, accept bitting, saddling and mounting much better. Then follow what Lyons says.

Make sure you can control that horse in the pen BEFORE you take her out of the pen to ride. *IF* she is still barn sour, she may very well NOT be with her new mindset, if she is, get back to me and we'll deal with that as well.

Good luck, keep me informed.

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