Charming Rogue Pony: NSFD?

Gorgeous, lovely mover, sweet but slightly pony-tude temperament, and unflappable - this guy has no spook at all. Except for this: he seems to be a little “light” in the hind end. Specifically, he kicks when annoyed or wants to do something other than he is being (nicely) asked to do. We’ve started some basic harnessing, longeing, and ground driving. Strategy was to start slow, get some condition on him, ground drive, then turn over to a trainer for the rest while also getting refresher coaching for myself.

I drove my Saddlebreds for years (long long ago), and also my mother’s quarterhorse mare, plus showed a flighty half-Arabian given to breaking into a canter every time she heard an announcer ask for the next gait or a reverse. However, I’ve not encountered such a willing kicker. Is this something he may work through eventually or should I just table the project? Advice is needed, please.

He’s a keeper no matter what is decided but I sure would love to be able to do some low level dressage driving and perhaps cones.

My gut says bypass the work you were going to do at home and send him straight to the trainer for evaluation and invest heavily in a kicking strap for when it’s time to hitch. My mini gets like this, but only once in a blue moon, usually after some time off (like 3 times in 5 years) and once he regains his work ethic, he is fine. I personally would not drive him if he did it without warning or more often, but he does give fair warning.

Definitely send him immediately to a good driving trainer for evaluation. And a hearty YES to a good kicking strap. You should also consider a veterinary workup to see if there’s anything physical that could be causing this - is it really a bad attitude/poor work ethic, or is he experiencing physical discomfort when you ask him to do certain things? Ulcers, lyme disease, and arthritis are just a few possibilities. Good luck.

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This might not be something you want to try, but we went with kicking chains on a couple horses who were “light in the rear” when they were a. Impatient b. Ticked off c. Touched unexpectedly d. Felt threatened from behind. Totally unacceptable here!

We have a center aisle barn, tie stalls on one side, so 4 rumps aimed at the aisle where we harness and hitch everyone. Lots of activity going on behind them. Plus the tie stalls have folks walking in and out on both sides of the horse to feed and water, getting horse out or putting horse in, then leaving. Can NOT have a kicker or horse who kicks when surprised, people get hurt that way!

I have found the kicking chains to be an excellent training tool to fix the stalled horse problems and so far, much of it transfers to their being driven too. Any punishment is self-inflicted, stops when horse quits kicking. No damage to legs on my horses. Chains are hung from straps above the hocks, not touching the ground to get stepped on.

I do not like the bent horse shoes around the pasterns for stopping kicking. All the ones I saw left the ankles rubbed sore. 3 of 4 horses here wore the chains “awhile” and did not kick again when we quit using them a couple months later. The 4th horse would kick her stall wall if the chain was off, so she wore them until she got sold a year or 2 later. We did not do things to suit her! Ha ha

I would totally second and third using a kicking strap when your pony starts getting hitched and for a long time after! He may need the strap forever in his driving career. Some do if a kick is their “go to” method of expressing displeasure over something. Probably not going to change a habit on an older animal. But having the kicking strap on is not a disgrace! You may get asked about it, people always wonder when they see something done differently. Say he is just green. Better safe than sorry! I have seen kicking straps in use, prevent a pony resistance from escalating into a wreck. Equines usually give up fast if they can’t hoist their hind end.

A good driving trainer is a good investment towards enjoying the pony in the future.