February. 19, 2020 – Ask Monty Newsletter
Question: Why do horses kick out?
Monty, my mare typically kicks when I release her for Join-Up which does not seem too “safe” of an environment. Any advice on how to make her get rid of this habit?
I do the orientation and then release at 2 o’clock but initially she would not leave. Then when I send her off, she does that but for a while she kicks and she speeds a lot, even cutting through the circle, then she changes direction at her own convenience as obviously I try to keep a bit of distance and she seems to be unpredictable. She is clearly a dominant type of mare and I started working with a Dually halter one month ago which seemed to pay off significantly in terms of her respecting my space, standing still etc but Join-Up is not really working (or only partially working for now, she does not seem very interested for the first 10 to 15 minutes). Should she be long-lined before trying Join-Up as a rule?
The behavior described is seen seldom, but is a concern. I have been successful overcoming this situation by carrying plastic bags on a stick with me. Using the plastic bags to send her away will generally stop down any kicking.
The un-asked for turning is probably because you are not placing your body slightly behind your mare’s forward motion. Use the plastic bags to send her in the same direction, for an appropriate number of revolutions, the flight distance of a horse.
At some point before I decide to attempt Join-Up, I typically toss the plastic bags toward the gate and achieve Join-Up from opposite the gate of the round pen. This is outlined in my textbook From My Hands to Yours and there are many examples on my Online University .
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