How to help correct kicking towards other horses

I have a 13 yr old paint mare. She has always be slightly aggressive towards other horses. Anytime while riding if someone would pass us she will pin her ears and give what I call her “mare face”. She has been known to kick in the field if prompted by another horse but recently she became very aggressive towards another gelding at our farm. She has kicked him once before given that was due to him biting her rump.

However the past two rides I’ve had on her with him in the arena she attempts to charge him and mostly recently while passing him (which is the odd part) I felt a kick coming and attempted to move her hindquarters over but she refused to and kicked him in the shoulder while cantering past him. This is not normal behavior and charging other horses is not either.

I was wondering if anyone had any tips to correct this or what could cause the sudden onset. We’ve decided to keep her out of any rides with other horses as I fear for other horses and riders safety. She was completely unproved in doing this as well cause he actually moved out of her way like he knew what was coming. The gelding is now completely terrified of her as well. We’ve been working her with ground driving to get used to things directly in behind and touching her sides but does anyone have other tips or tricks? I love to show and so does she so it hurts us both to not be able to do it. She also has not offered to kick when trail riding in close proximity to others it’s mostly just in the arena.

She is also not in heat that was our first thought.

I hope you punished her severely for that. When she is being ridden or led, you are in charge. It does not matter why she did it. Kicking is absolutely unacceptable. Her focus should be on you and not other horses.

You have to make it an extremely bad thing that she has done with consequences that let her know how truly bad she was. And you have to react quickly!

We had a four old mare rear-end in a show back east, she kicked the offender and was ejected from the class as kicking another horse is an automatic ejection but to her death twenty-four years later she never forgot being run into and would kick out at any horse that ran up on her.

This mare was a low ranking member of any herd, she was not one that would seek dominance (her half sister was lead mare of a broodmare band of 20 plus)

We just made sure she was not placed into compromising situations which worked as she was a national champion competitive trail horse among other things.

And to her dying day I never ever was concerned about her having kicked that horse,

This behavior requires an instant and memorable “come to Jesus” moment from you to your horse.

In the example of kicking the horse on the shoulder as you passed I would have driven my spurs into both sides then pulled the inside rein short so the horse was making a 10’ circle, all the while driving the horse with my legs. If I had a crop- and you should now carry one to use for correction- I would also apply 3 thwacks on the top of the rump in the first steps of the circle. I also use a lot of voice when giving my horse a sermon. Immediately repeat the pass and if the horses acts out repeat.

A good ass whoopin is how I would handle it. No kicking allowed, period. Carry a crop and use it.

This is how the guys where I board handle it - Big Whip. And mean it.

I have handled a lot of horses that have learned to kick for whatever reason (having worked a trail string for a long time, it was common). I crack them pretty hard when they even think about it. Crabby ears aren’t even permitted in my world.

I am a pretty soft person, but I have been kicked more than once from others not getting after their horse and some horses are sneaky about it…ie stopping and flying backwards to kick, etc.

Nip it in the bud. If stallions can behave riding with mares, then your mare can learn not to be a crab. :wink:

Same as I have learned to hold my tongue and be in the same room as my MIL. :slight_smile:

Can I add a word of caution to this advice? Know how your horse is going to react to that ass whoopin and know that you can handle it.

If the aggression is slowly increasing, I would wonder about soreness, losing vision, or some other issue that is making her feel more leery of being in close proximity to other horses. Could also be hormonal. I would discuss with a vet and in the meantime keep her by herself in turnout.

I personally correct any horse that tries to engage in negative social interactions while being handled or ridden, even flattened ears towards another horse are cause for a quick spank. It’s important to make the correction quickly, so the horse understands the point you are making. Some horses are uncomfortable with having other horses (particularly strange horses) near them for whatever reason, and in this case, it is helpful to practice riding them with company to give them confidence that while they aren’t allowed to act out, other horses aren’t going to bother them either.

Yes, there are no excuses for kicking. Make sure you carry a crop in future and be prepared to use it. The beating must be swift and severe - I usually give three or four good hard whacks in quick succession with the crop held upright, but be sure you can sit on what follows.

This worked for one mare (she tried to go through a fence to attack a gelding that was completely minding his own business & casually grazing in the field next to the arena)

Mare Moods
(note this mare had not had a heat cycle june through sept)

CNS support

This (very sensitive) mare was in for training, she had been extremely stressed/overfaced by a previous trainer so beating her was NOT an option.
2 months later she was a completely different horse, she was rideable with other horses, listening to the rider, no longer soaked in sweat & trembling within 2 minutes of being tacked up … obviously there was much supportive handling/training that was done, but the herbal mixes made a huge difference in this mare’s ability to cope.

Given that this is a change in your mare’s behavior, I’d look for underlying causes first, as CHT points out, changes in vision/hearing/soreness etc can strongly affect a horse, especially one that is already not particularly comfortable with other horses in close proximity.

Mare sounds as if she is stressed (for whatever reason) so you might also try a round of omeprazole in case of ulcers - Summit makes a generic paste that is well regarded by local vets (occasionally a horse will need the Merial version - shop around for pricing of <$30/tube, also Merial still has a coupon rebate of $5/tube).

I have two redheaded mares. Both can be crabby about their personal space making the ugly mare face. My young girl thought about possibly kicking several times after I first got her. She got a come to Jesus session immediately every time I saw flattened ears or felt her try to shift her body. She was also trying to play head honcho in the pasture so she only wears front shoes. While riding her on trail rides, I have worked with her being in different positions in the line, passing and being passed to make it no big deal. My old mare has only ever kicked twice since I have had her.Both times were issues with the other rider allowing their horse to completely ride up her butt repeatedly even though receiving multiple warnings from me. She also is punished for any infraction like flattened ears. She knows I mean business and usually just a growl from me will result in perked ears with a who me? look. With my young girl I also punished when I was handling on the ground for any ugly behavior.

The only luck I have had with a kicker is to punish them very severely when they do it…as in, take a crop to them hard a couple of times or so–it doesn’t cure the horse, but can get the horse to the point that it will be controllable by the rider so it doesn’t do it when that rider is riding it.