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Trainer Q&A - Behavior Problems & Quirks - How can I stop my new horse from kicking me and rearing in the pasture?

How can I stop my new horse from kicking me and rearing in the pasture?

Tiffangaj1 Asks:

I just got my horse Sonny last week. His owner was downsizing his herd and gave us him and his half sister for free. Neither has had any ground work done, no heath papers or hoof work. Basically they were lawn orniments that were fed carrots all the time. Now that we have had them, they both are being halter trained and led in and out of the pasture, appx 3-4 times a day, they are learning "stop and come" very well, and have had their hooves cleaned and trimmed in the front... we're working on the back. Recently I was in the pasture working with him alone and out of no where he ran me down and turned and kicked me. Now when I go out there, he keeps running me down and continues to try and kick again and again. Also, he is starting to rear on me. Im not sure what could have spooked him as I only carry the lead rope and we are on a dead end road in BFE. How can I break him of this and continue my training not showing that I'm worried about getting kicked again? By the way, his breed is Appaloosa and Mustang cross.

Our Trainer Answers:

Your new horse, Sonny, is simply trying to dominate you in the pecking order. A horse will NEVER kick at a horse that he views as more dominant than himself, he does not see you as his leader at this stage of training.

What you need to do is, rather than leading him to the pasture, lead him to a safe enclosure (preferably a round pen) and turn him loose. Allow him to spend a little time in there, then take your leadrope and a whip into the round pen to catch him. When he comes at you, to try to kick you, whip at him (you may or may not need to hit him with it) until you make him leave you and go out on the circle of the pen (the perimeter). Then make him work, trotting or loping, until he is breathing fairly hard and "asking" if he can stop. This may sound cruel, however, this is exactly how another horse would treat him if he was trying to dominate them. By using this method your horse will quickly learn that you are the "boss", not him. Now that Sonny is paying attention to you, relax and step away from him in the center of the pen, telling him to "come here", keep facing him and backing away until he comes to you. If he is respectful, with no attempts to turn and kick you or rear up at you, snap your leadrope on and rub him on the head. If he offers to do either, send him back out on the circle and keep working him until he learns that you truly are the "boss".

Remember that this is normal horse behavior, do not get mad or angry with him. Use your time in the round pen to work on fundamentals. While you are gaining his respect now, you can also teach him to walk, trot, canter and come to you, as well as change direction and "whoa".

I will caution you to continue these lessons for several days to several weeks, until he doesn't even attempt to try to kick or rear for many lessons, before turning him back out to pasture.

Thank You and Happy Trails!

Christy Mellington