What causes a horse to kick

Oct 19, 2023 | Super Equestrian


What causes a horse to kick

"Don't judge a book by its cover," as the saying goes. There is no difference between a horse and this aphorism if you look closely. Horses are majestic and mighty on the outside, but they are just as toasty underneath. They can even be compared to children who have just learned to run and can fling their arms and legs wildly on impulse.

Horses, like children, have their own personalities and are often very unpredictable. Even over something as trivial as touching their coat, horses can have a temper tantrum that can result in them kicking very hard. In this case, the horse's inner childish innocence fades away, revealing the strong personality that can be seen on the horse's façade.

A horse's kick, unlike that of a child, can send a grown man rolling like a straw doll. So, to keep you safe while spending time with horses, we've discussed what causes horses to kick, how grave they are, and how to reduce them in this blog.

So, what are we still waiting for? Put on your armor. Let us enter the arena and see what all the jousting is about.

Reasons of horse kicking

Horses actually kick for a variety of reasons, such as if they think they are stuck somewhere or they want some space. Again, when we are angry for some reason or are having a bad day, we try to take out that anger on someone or something else.  A horse's impulse is no exception. They may kick even when they are in physical pain or discomfort. 

Assume someone in front of you is talking nonstop despite the fact that you have a terrible headache; To be considerate, you can give them a bitter quick glance, but the horse interprets kicking as the equivalent of that look. A horse, like a teenager, may also kick for no apparent reason if not properly trained and socialized.

Let's look at some of the other reasons a horse might kick and get a stronger insight of them.

  • Self-defense: Despite their enormous size, horses are primarily prey animals. As a result, when they are scared or threatened, cornered or trapped, they kick to rescue themselves. A sudden kick may appear out of nowhere if they perceive certain people and animals to be threats.
  • Dominance and anger: Horses often use kicks to assert dominance or to express anger. This is particularly noticeable in stallions and geldings.
  • Physical pain or discomfort: Horses usually kick as a defensive mechanism when they are in pain or discomfort. It is perfectly natural for them.
  • Interactions and training: If horses are not properly trained or exposed to different environments, they will not understand how they will behave in any given situation. In such cases, they may unwittingly give a kick.
  • Medical conditions: Horses may experience discomfort sometimes due to medical reasons or injuries. They may kick in the air to alert their owner to the situation. Horses suffer from illnesses such as influenza, herpesvirus, sleeping sickness, colic, dental problems, and numerous others.
  • Sudden noise: Being startled by a loud noise is a natural reaction of all living things. Horses are extremely sensitive to noise and may startle or kick in response to a sudden or loud sound.
  • Environment: Horses, as part of our environment, are delicate to stress. So, if your horse doesn't get enough light and air, loses his balance due to overcrowding, or doesn't get enough interactions, he may kick under stress.

It is indeed worth mentioning that many horses kick more than their compatriots. Their behavior is heavily influenced by their breed, personality, and previous experience. By understanding the common causes of horse kicking, you can anticipate when horses are likely to kick and create some prevention strategies to protect yourself and others. 

Prevention Strategies

The horses may seem majestic and royal, but they are actually time bombs surrounded by fluffy fur that will explode at any moment and unleash a barrage of kicks. But there is no need to be afraid; if you follow the prevention strategies we provide, you will be able to dance with such dangers. So let's figure out how to survive this bombardment of kicks.

  • Maintain a safe distance: Always be careful when interacting with or training horses and maintain a distance where there is no fear of getting kicked. It's like a game of dodgeball, except that you're dodging the horse's kicks instead of the ball.
  • Body language: It is the natural instinct of all animals to anticipate a behavior or action before it occurs, which manifests itself in our behavior or speech. So, pay close attention to the horse's body posture before kicking. For example, horses often wag their tails very quickly before kicking. So, if the speed of the flapping tail is comparable to that of a tornado, it is not the time to be brave, but rather you might wanna look for a cover.
  • Sudden movements or loud noises: A sudden movement or loud noise in front of a new horse is just as dangerous as throwing a red cloth in front of a bull. So, instead of doing it, give your horse a peaceful environment.
  • Training and socialization techniques: Teach your horse various commands and manners, just as you would a new puppy or kitten. This will undoubtedly save you from a lot of kicking moments in the future.
  • Use protective gear: When interacting with horses, always come prepared. Casual clothing often poses a risk of injury. If you must be near the horses, you should wear a helmet and steel-toed boots..
  • Aggressive behavior: Trying to reason with a drunkard is futile, arguing with a horse is even more dangerous. So if your horse is angry try to calm him down or give him some space.
  • Veterinary care: Don't neglect to take your horse to the vet on a regular basis, just as we need to go to the clinic every other day for checkups. It is critical for both his mental and physical health.
  • Proper quarter: Nobody wants their home to be filthy and unhygienic. Similarly, we must take special care of the horse's quarter to ensure that it is clean, sterile, and not congested.
  • Professional help: If all of the methods suggested above fail to keep you safe (which is highly unlikely), it's time to bring out the big guns. Seek professional assistance as soon as possible, and don't leave any stone unturned. If you don't hurry, you might as well forget about that cowboy tag.

Remember that your equine friends are no different than your children (giant ones). Give them some treats every now and then to cheer them up; it will keep them in a good mood, and who knows, they might forget to kick at all.

Case studies or examples

Horse kicking victims are nothing new, but since we are helping you in keeping all of your limbs intact, you might want to hear about some real-life cases that will make you more cautious.

If you're interested, here are some case studies and examples.

  • A trainer in Dallas, Texas, was working with a young, aggressive horse. While training the horse, it gave him a powerful kick in the face, resulting in a broken nose and numerous facial fractures.
  • In Austin, a child was roaming around an equine farm when he got too close to a horse, causing a sudden discomfort that resulted in a thunderous kick that broke the child's rib and hand.
  • When an unfriendly and rugged horse from a fair became loose in Houston, it kicked a lot of people, causing severe damage and distress..

There you have it, you now know about some real-life horse kicking incidents. You shouldn't really overlook their kicking strength, as it can result in apparent death.  To be honest, if you keep a close eye on their behavior and handle them properly, horses aren't as dangerous as their kicks.

Conclusion

It is important to note that despite extensive training and techniques, horses will continue to kick as this is their natural way of escaping danger or relieving themselves.  We can only limit and control how much they kick by mentoring and methods. While these will not stop the kicks, they will significantly reduce the risk of injury to others, including ourselves.

I didn't notice when we got to the end of the road while talking. It's time to say our goodbyes now that we've arrived at our destination. We know our techniques have proven to be effective, but please let us know how they worked out for you by leaving a comment below.

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