HELP - kicking mare - vicious kick

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Dec 2, 2002
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I have a friend who asked me to trade mares because she was afraid of her mare that kicked. THis mare will come at you kicking - for no reason at all - and she kicks with intent to KILL. She will be fine one minute and then suddenly turn on you kicking. She is a beautiful mare, Hunt House Farms bloodlines, black with large white blaze and blue eyes - I just love her and I've gotten a beautiful black blanketed appy colt from her previously, so I do not really want to give up on her. She is partially blind in one eye - but that really has nothing to do with the kicking - she comes at YOU to kick.

I was doing fine with her then this morning while giving her grain she turned on me. I did "kick" back, but she just kept coming at me swiftly. I finally got her out of the feeding area and into a small dry lot. After I gave her about 15 minutes to settle down, I stood at the door of the barn with it just open enough for me. She ate about three handfuls of grain from me, then, when I was offering the fourth, she suddenly whirled and kicked four or five times at me. I shut the door and she kept kicking the door for about two minutes. If I went on the outside of the drylot she ran at me whirling and kicking.

I have put money into dna testing her and her dam for her AMHA registration so she will be double registered, but I have to find a way to cure her. Any help will be appreciated. This mare seems to just like to KICK people and times it when you are least expecting it.
cathy is this the only time she gets this way?? To some horses grain is like a drug they are addicted to and they get so impatient to get it that they become feed aggressive. Number one i would stop graining her until its under control. Then I would train her to stand quietly and turn and face me while i feed her in a stall. The only way we have found to break horses like this is to feed them in a stall for about a week. Every time she would turn to kick me i would take the hay back out and leave the stall. Shell learn really quick that she doesnt get hay until she turns around and faces you. After you have her to where you can feed her hay without aggression i would add back the grain. Remember how bad shadow was??? It only took a few days and she totally stopped.

hey cathy russ is leaving for ohio next week. if you want id be glad to come down and have a look at her with you. Ive been wanting to come visit and see your foals before we leave anyway

I have to agree with Kay. I also think she may be a great candidate for a reading from Bonnie. I think she has some serious issues that Bonnie could help you both with.

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She is telling you she is the boss mare, and you are in her space! She will be a serious challenge to teach otherwise, as her previous owner allowed her to get away with it. She is convinced in her own mind that she is boss. Their are many ways to handle this if yu want to correct it, as everyone has their own way of dealing with it. I for one would start with establishing whos the real boss, but you will need to be careful as she sounds a bit challenging at this point....
Sounds like she had to fight for her food in the past.

She is doing this because SHE KNOWS SHE CAN!

This horse should come live with me for a week.

She would be tied up in a stall. She would be tied up everywhere, in each field, in the barn, and to every tree I could see. Tieing up a horse makes them submissive. She would not be loose period and I would camp with her. She would be fed with me right there in her face too and one false move from her and the food would be removed quickly such as what KK does.

When she would kick at me, I would turn her whole world upside down and inside out and insight a riot. And no I don't beat on horses and don't even own a crop but I darn sure will correct one that is a threat to my body. But this is one time when I would completely spank those back legs, while they are "in progress" up in the air, and with it at the same time, be screaming at the top of my lungs and completely let loose on her with a really big loud angry voice. I think using a big voice makes a great impression. I would also do a whole lot of pushing and shoving her over from side to side with both my hands to further impress on her that I am in control of her body, not her. This should work.
I've turned two horses who were like your mare around doing what Marty suggests. It works very well.
Thank you for the responses. I intend to be strict with her on this and not back down; however, we have had some new information come to light and I will hold back until I get a physical done on her. It seems this eye was "poked" about two years ago - she was being bathed and fell and her eye/head hit a salt block and the eye was "pushed" in some. It was a short time after this that her behavior deteriorated. She had been a pleasant mare before this. Two things may have happened - this injury has maybe in some way caused pressure/pain that she has learned to live with but "flares" at odd times because feeding is not the only time she will decide to kick you - and I need to rule out pain as a factor for behavior before I do anything; the second thought is that while the eye was healing, she was touchy and found out she could rule with agressive behavior. If that is the case, then I will have to take on behavior modification or sell her to someone who can. Working full time and taking care of my mother limits my time I have for this type of intense retraining, so I'm not sure which way I will have to go. She is a beautiful mare and well worth the time IF I CAN FIND IT - LOL. What ever way it goes, it is not going to be easy if she has been manipulating people this way for two years!!!
I have been kicked by my mares when they are eating around other horses. They don't do this at any other time. I was seriously hurt when two mares decided they wanted to be the first to eat.

Now that we have established who is boss I have not been kicked at all. It takes letting them know that you are the one near them and not another horse.
This does not sound like normal dominant/ aggressive behaviour to me. This sounds, I'm afraid like something more serious. My first reaction was that it sounded like drug flashback, and now I am wondering brain damage??
It sounds like either a pain response or as Rabbitsfizz suggested, brain damage caused be the re-injury.

In either case, Bonnie may be of some help on which it is (don't volunteer any information to her....she will find out from the mare. All Bonnie likes to have is a picture and the name the horse goes by.)

Once you know the source behind her behavior it will help with how to handle it. MY gut reaction is that she is not a mean horse in her heart. There are other issues going on.

After you are all done trying everything else go back and reread Martys post. Because regardless of the cause and the cure this mare has extablished a pattern of behavior that will require re-education. Martys method will produce positive results within a short amount of time. There are faster methods and slower methods that will produce results but you need to start in order to see a posative response.
I too recommend doing a consultation with Bonnie. She did one for me on my parents' dog, Oliver, who had passed away. I was skeptical but she said something at the end that erased any doubt that she truly was in touch with Ollie.

A lot of you here have more experience with horses than I do, but in my 10yrs with horses, I have met two horses that I felt were just BAD, for whatever reasons... They were just bad on the inside. I hope this mare is not that kind of horse and that she's just got some kind of quirk that can be fixed.

I can tell you with my temper, if one of mine did do that to me, they better run fast and keep running because I would knock the heck out of them when I got ahold of them. Right or wrong. I would be on fire.
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Yea I vote for me and my methods too Cath.....because regardless of the cause here, this mare is a danger and must be re-programmed. My method is not going to hurt her physically, but most definatly get her attention and it is a "reward" method when she does not kick and she is allowed to have her food as a reward for possitive behavior.

And oh I did not mean to keep her tied up 24-7 by the way. I would turn her loose over night, but only in a stall where you can easily grab her to halter and rope her the next morning before she has her breakfast offered to her. Not keep her tied up over night where she cannot be watched but during daylight hours while you are outside nearby to camp and vigil or be watched from your kitchen window or something when you have to go inside. Just so she is not left unattended to hurt herself.

You can also if you have a camera, put it in her stall so you can watch and see if by any chance these are in-voluntary actions, KICKS to see if she may be kicking the walls or the air or whatever without anyone there to provoke her. But I feel a spy job is in order too.

Of course brain damage is a possibility, and was my very first thought that "oh oh, this horse has a screw loose" and short of dumping the big bucks into her for an exam I don't see how you'd find out for sure if this is behavioural or some sort of "un-controlable spas-matick thing she does." It may be an option for you and the other owner to split vet costs to find out.

She requires someone with time on their hands to really devote themselves to doing this.

The other thing I have to say is that she would also present a danger to any foal she may have too, so under these circumstances if you don't have the time to mess with her, you need to find someone that does.

One last thing that I would really do is to give her atleast one week total, before making any permanent decisions, which is not very much, but better than nothing, to try any of the methods that have been given to you so far and just to "sit back and watch" and observe her after you work with her. If this is just a load of BULL she is giving you, you will know it by then.
justaboutgeese said:
After you are all done trying everything else go back and reread Martys post.  Because regardless of the cause and the cure this mare has extablished a pattern of behavior that will require re-education.  Martys method will produce positive results within a short amount of time.  There are faster methods and slower methods that will produce results but you need to start in order to see a posative response.

I second the motion.
Having suffered a closed head injury that took me over a year from which to recover, I can understand/empathize (obviously, not appreciate) why she behaves so aggressively/inappropriately. Trust me, if she was a sweet mare prior to the accident and this behavior can be attributed to it, then it's a safe bet she's a suffering, tortured soul.

I'm with Bonnie ASAP before someone gets hurt. The first thing she does is scan the body for physical "issues", prior to getting into the personality of an animal. If she does have a brain injury, then perhaps Bonnie could suggest some behavior modification techniques

Good luck with her and please keep us posted. I'll be very curious to hear what Bonnie says.

Okay i think it could be 3 or 4 things. Im saving the crazy one for near the end.

1) It could be food making her hyper or agressive. We fed one of our horses corn and he went wild. Couldnt walk him or get near him. He was horriable. We switched abck to horse feed and hay and he was my baby agian. Sometimes i forget to take the corn out of the cows pins and turn coco loose in there and he gets into it and is crazy for a couple hours.

2) It could be fear. A horse has a fight or Flight way of thinking. She is in a stale or on a rope and cant 'flight' so she fights.

3) It could be your thinking. If you go into a pin htinking 'she is going to kick me' or being scared they will sense it and you are more likely to get kicked. I spend allot of time researching 'horse whispering' and use it daily on some horses. Havent tried it on Coco yet though. Maybe when she was younger she kicked allot and the first owner, it scared and he got to thinking 'im going to get kicked ..oh god' and he told the person you got it from that she kicks and she always had a fear 'she's gunna kick me'. Then she tells you she kicks and you go in having the same mind. Its not your fault at all ...she might just be that way.

4) She just likes to kick and thinks that she is playing when really its not funny.

really it can be anything not a horse expert so i cant really help you. Just dishing out some ideas.
In the first place, I would carry a stick and use it on her rump, rather than kicking at her. A stick gives you a bit of reach, so you can get her before she connects with you. And, if you have a stick (stick as in stock whip in case you're wondering) in your hand, she just might have a bit of respect for that and stay back--don't know for sure, but maybe.

But, before I started any major disciplining/training/reprogramming on this mare, I would be having everything checked out to see if she does have eye pain or some brain damage/pain. There's something up with that when her behavior changed so drastically after her injury.

It's very unusual that a sweet tempered horse would change so drastically "just because", and I don't believe this mare is just a "bad" horse. Honestly, my first thought is that someone did something to her that drove her to start behaving this way. But, if your friend was in possession of her at the time the eye injury occurred, and you can trust this person to tell the truth about how the injury occurred, then it probably isn't that. I just know that if a stranger gave me this story for how a horse got injured, and the horse was now behaving like this mare is toward people, it would be my belief that the injury was caused by abuse, and the mare has simply learned to attack to protect herself from being attacked.

I was wondering about her kicking..... When she does it, are you on her good eye side or her blind side? And I'm talking about even when you're behind her. Are you more on her blind side but behind her? Have you noticed if this makes a difference?

I would not breed this mare. She might kill her foal. It is also not a quality one would want in offspring. I think sometimes behavoir is attributed to abuse and it is nothing but plain old, in-born orneriness. Just like people.


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