My Horse Kicks When I Pick Up His Feet (What To Do!)

I have two horses and I always face the challenge of them kicking during hoof care routines. 

This behavior typically occurs when attempting to lift a horse’s foot for cleaning or inspection purposes.

The kick may come without warning or be preceded by subtle signs of resistance, such as stomping or shifting weight uneasily. 

Understanding why horses engage in this behavior is crucial in finding effective solutions to address it.

My Horse Kicks When I Pick Up His Feet (Key Takeaways)

  • Horses may kick when their feet are picked up for various reasons, including discomfort, fear, or a learned behavior.
  • Pain or sensitivity in the hooves, legs, or back can lead to defensive kicking as a response to discomfort.
  • Fear or insecurity during hoof handling can cause horses to kick as a defensive instinct.
  • Some horses develop a habit of kicking if they have not been properly trained or if they have had negative experiences during hoof care.
  • Professional guidance from a farrier or trainer can help address kicking behavior and ensure safe hoof handling.
  • Gradual desensitization, positive reinforcement, and patient training techniques can help horses become more comfortable with hoof handling.
  • Regular hoof care and maintenance are essential for a horse’s health, so addressing kicking behavior is crucial for their well-being and soundness.

Importance of Addressing This Behavior For The Safety of Both Horse and Handler

My Horse Kicks When I Pick Up His Feet

The safety implications associated with a horse kicking during hoof care cannot be overstated. 

For handlers, there is an immediate risk of getting struck by a powerful hoof, which can lead to severe injuries such as fractures or concussions.

Additionally, repeated kicking episodes can create fear and anxiety in handlers, making them hesitant or apprehensive during routine care sessions. 

For horses themselves, unresolved kicking issues may result in negative consequences like strained relationships with handlers or even exacerbation of underlying physical problems that require prompt attention.

By understanding the underlying causes behind this behavior and implementing appropriate strategies, we aim to ensure a safer environment during hoof care routines while fostering a trusting relationship between horses and their handlers. 

Understanding Equine Behavior

Horses are majestic creatures with a long history of living in the wild. 

Understanding their natural instincts is crucial in comprehending their behavior, especially when it comes to picking up their feet. 

Horses have a built-in flight response, which means they are predisposed to react quickly and instinctively to potential threats or discomfort.

This flight response is deeply ingrained in their DNA as a survival mechanism. 

When a horse feels threatened or experiences pain, such as when lifting its hooves, it may react by kicking out in self-defense.

The Role of Trust and Respect in Handling Horses Effectively

Building trust and respect forms the foundation of any successful relationship with your horse. 

These principles are particularly important when it comes to handling horses during hoof care routines. 

Horses are intelligent animals that can sense our emotions and intentions.

By demonstrating patience, kindness, and consistency, we can earn their trust over time. 

Respect is also vital because horses need to view us as leaders who will guide them through potentially challenging situations like picking up their feet.

When they trust and respect us, they will be more willing to cooperate and less likely to exhibit behavior such as kicking. 

Understanding equine behavior requires acknowledging the innate instincts of horses, particularly their flight response, while establishing a strong bond based on trust and respect for effective handling during hoof care routines.

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Possible Causes for Kicking Behavior: Physical Discomfort or Pain in Hooves, Legs, or Joints

There are several physical issues that can cause a horse to kick when its feet are being picked up. 

One common cause is the presence of hoof abscesses.

These painful infections can develop deep within the hoof, making it extremely uncomfortable for the horse to bear weight on that foot. 

The pressure applied when picking up the affected foot can exacerbate the pain, resulting in a defensive reaction, including kicking.

Another condition that can lead to kicking behavior is laminitis, which causes inflammation and tenderness in the tissues connecting the hoof wall to the coffin bone. 

The discomfort from laminitis often intensifies when pressure is applied to the hooves during lifting.

Additionally, horses with arthritis or joint problems may experience discomfort when their legs are manipulated during hoof care routines. 

This discomfort can trigger a reflexive kicking response as an attempt to alleviate pain.

Behavioral Issues Due To Past Experiences or Improper Training Techniques

Sometimes, kicking behavior stems from psychological factors rather than physical ones. 

Traumatic events experienced by horses in their past can lead to fear and defensive behavior when someone tries to pick up their feet.

For instance, if a horse has previously been mishandled during hoof care routines or had an unpleasant experience with farriers or veterinarians, they may associate foot handling with pain and distress. 

Such negative associations can make them resistant and prone to kicking as a protective mechanism against perceived threats or discomfort.

Additionally, improper training techniques may contribute to this issue. 

Horses not properly desensitized and acclimated to having their hooves handled may exhibit resistance and respond defensively through kicking.

By understanding these possible causes for kicking behavior when picking up a horse’s feet – both physical discomforts and behavioral responses – we gain valuable insights into how best to address and manage this issue. 

It is important to approach this matter with empathy, patience, and a commitment to resolving the underlying causes to ensure the safety and well-being of both the horse and handler.

Assessing Hoof Health and Pain Management

One of the most crucial steps in addressing your horse’s kicking behavior during hoof care is to assess their hoof health and manage any potential pain. 

Regular farrier visits for hoof maintenance play a vital role in keeping your horse’s hooves healthy and comfortable. 

An experienced farrier can help identify any issues, such as improper trimming or shoeing, that may be causing discomfort or pain when you try to pick up your horse’s feet.

Scheduling regular appointments with a professional farrier is essential for maintaining optimal hoof health in horses. 

During these visits, the farrier will trim the hooves, correcting any imbalances and ensuring proper weight distribution.

This helps prevent conditions such as lameness and promotes overall soundness. 

Additionally, if you are experiencing issues with your horse kicking during hoof care, discussing this concern with your farrier will provide them with valuable insight into your horse’s behavior.

Your relationship with your farrier should extend beyond simply trimming hooves; they are valuable sources of knowledge about equine behavior and can offer guidance on handling issues as well. 

Share your concerns about your horse kicking during foot handling with the farrier during their visit so that they can assess the situation firsthand. 

They may be able to suggest specific techniques or adjustments in their approach that could help alleviate any discomfort or anxiety your horse may be experiencing.

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Proper Trimming Techniques To Alleviate Potential Pain Points

The way hooves are trimmed can significantly impact a horse’s comfort level when their feet are handled.

 A skilled and knowledgeable farrier should use proper trimming techniques aimed at alleviating potential pain points.

This includes maintaining an appropriate hoof angle, balancing the hoof, and ensuring correct sole depth. 

By addressing any anatomical issues or imbalances through proper trimming, you lessen the likelihood of your horse feeling discomfort or pain when you pick up their feet.

Veterinary Examination To Rule Out Underlying Health Issues

If your horse continues to exhibit kicking behavior despite regular farrier visits and appropriate trimming techniques, it may be necessary to involve a veterinarian in the assessment. 

A thorough veterinary examination is crucial for ruling out any underlying health issues that could be contributing to your horse’s discomfort. 

During this examination, the vet will conduct a detailed physical evaluation, paying particular attention to the hooves, legs, and joints.

They may also recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays if deemed necessary. 

By working closely with both a knowledgeable farrier and a veterinary professional, you can ensure that all avenues are explored to identify and address any potential sources of pain or discomfort that may be causing your horse’s kicking behavior during foot handling.

Tackling Behavioral Issues through Training Techniques

Building a strong foundation of trust and respect is crucial when dealing with a horse that kicks during hoof handling. 

Groundwork exercises serve as the perfect starting point to establish a positive relationship with your equine companion.

Begin by working on basic commands like leading, stopping, and backing up. 

This helps develop responsiveness and obedience, creating a solid communication channel between you and your horse.

To address the kicking behavior specifically, incorporate exercises that encourage your horse to yield his hindquarters or move his feet in response to your cues. 

Practicing these maneuvers not only improves their overall responsiveness but also reinforces your role as the leader in their eyes. 

By engaging in groundwork activities regularly, you’ll be able to gain better control over their body language, making it easier to address any resistance during hoof handling.

Utilizing positive reinforcement techniques can work wonders when dealing with horses who have developed kicking tendencies. 

Rewarding desirable behavior such as standing calmly or lifting their hooves without resistance is key.

Consider using treats or praise as rewards immediately after the desired action has been performed correctly. 

Over time, this will help create an association between picking up hooves and positive experiences for your horse.

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Desensitization Techniques For Desensitizing the Horse’s Hooves

To overcome fear or anxiety related to having their hooves handled, desensitization plays a vital role in gradually introducing touch and pressure on their hooves. 

Begin by gently rubbing the legs and gradually progress towards touching the hooves with minimal pressure.

Take small steps at a time while observing your horse’s reactions closely. 

The goal is to help them become more comfortable with having their hooves touched, reducing the likelihood of any defensive kicking behavior.

When your horse becomes more relaxed during desensitization exercises, it’s time to start introducing gradual touch and pressure directly on the hooves. 

Begin by applying slight pressure on each hoof, mimicking the action of picking them up without fully lifting them off the ground.

Pay attention to your horse’s response, ensuring they stay calm throughout the process. 

Gradually increase the duration and intensity of pressure as they become more comfortable, always keeping a watchful eye for any signs of discomfort or resistance.

Throughout these training techniques, remember to reward your horse generously for their cooperation. 

A pat on the neck or a kind word can go a long way in reinforcing positive behavior and building trust. 

By consistently implementing these methods, gradually advancing at a pace that suits your horse’s comfort level, you’ll be able to address their kicking behavior effectively while fostering a stronger bond based on trust and understanding.

My Horse Kicks When I Pick Up His Feet: Conclusion

Dealing with a horse that kicks when you pick up his feet requires patience, understanding, and proper training techniques. 

By taking into account potential physical discomfort and addressing any underlying health issues through veterinary consultation and farrier visits, you can ensure your horse is not in pain during hoof handling.

Additionally, implementing groundwork exercises that promote responsiveness and obedience will establish trust between you and your equine companion. 

Through desensitization techniques combined with positive reinforcement training methods, you can gradually overcome their fear or resistance when it comes to having their hooves handled.

Remember that every small step forward is progress worth celebrating. 

With persistence and consistency in applying these strategies while maintaining empathy towards your horse’s needs, you’ll be well on your way to resolving this issue successfully while forging an even stronger bond with your four-legged friend.

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I have a Masters degree in Communication and over 5 years working in PR. I have a wife and four children and love spending time with them on our farm. I grew up on a farm with cows, sheep, pigs, goats, you name it! My first childhood pet was a pig named Daisy. In my spare time, I love holding bbq parties for my friends and family
David

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