Striking out with forefoot....?

domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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My friend has a rising two NF filly (had her since she was 6m old) and tonight I witnessed her striking out with her forefoot. In all my years around horses I've never actually seen one do this to a human (plenty of kicks to the rear, but never to the front) - I don't recall what my friend was doing at the time but it would have been something that she does as routine every night - taking a rug off, grooming or something - filly doesn't do it all the time, just occasionally, but she nearly caught my friend a blinder,..... I said "Blimey, does she do that much?" to which she replied "Yeah, sometimes" she then admitted she is careful round the front of her as she will do this so she had been half-expecting it and had jumped out of the way! Unfortunately my friend is not the most assertive so is most likely to squeal and run away and be scared, but I am now going to be sometimes handling this mare and I'm not quite such a pushover, but it will make me quite wary of her.....

Suggestions on how to deal with it please? Filly is well handled and has the same routine every night, no change in feed. She doesn't always strike out so it's not associated with any particular thing. :confused:

Thanks
 

Mehitabel

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it's usually frustration, i have seen it mostly with stallions being cross when teasing a mare who's not ready, or a horse being made to wait for feed or something. i tend to kick them in the shin right back (antichrist alert) and tell them off. it is an aggressive move with the front feet - back feet are the typical defensive ones - and IMO not to be tolerated at all.
 

scoobylover

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Aug 22, 2007
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Scooby does this. With him, it's a sign of impatience, i.e. not providing his tea quickly enough, taking too long to do up his rug, tacking up, the list goes on.... I usually growl at him and he looks at me, as if to judge how much I mean it and will stop - until the next time! In his case, it's not meant to hurt, or even make contact. When I first had him and he did it, I slapped his leg as it came up, but this didn't make the blindest bit of difference, and have found my billy goat gruff voice works well.
This probably doesn't help you at all, but I have spent ages correcting my bad spelling and am not deleting!!!:)
 

Gurnosstud

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Jul 19, 2007
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I agree with Meh, it is a very aggressive gesture to do this and needs to be dealt with. I have seen the consequences of my father been caught by a small mountain pony youngster who did this and it wasn't pretty.
It sounds to me as if the filly sees herself as the dominant one in the relationship, especially if you friend is frightened of her. She really needs to be taght that this behavior is not acceptable, and is shouted at and given a smack (or kick in the shine as meh suggeste) everytime she does it.
 

Showjumper

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Dec 30, 2000
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This was Dylan's trick when he arrived, and the one he's most likely to chuck out when he has a grumble on. He very rarely does it anymore and all I did was tell him it wasn't acceptable. A loud "NO" when the leg left the ground and tons of praise when it stayed on the ground worked for him. That plus the fact that when he kneed the wall instead of a person he realised it hurt :p
 

domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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Thanks peeps, you have confirmed my suspicions - will have a word with her owner tonight and make suggestions. She's quite a tiny delicate filly (certainly compared to Ludo-chunk!!) and whilst I am under no illusions that she would be a lot stronger than me if I were caught unawares, I think she will be rather surprised by my reactions if she starts any of her shenanigans with me!!! ;)
 

Trio

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Jan 5, 2007
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archie started doing this a few months ago (he's 4 ish)- with him it was definitely him trying out boundaries and being impatient- i was appalled wtih it as its so dangerous and he nearly got me a few times, so every time he did it with me i shouted and ran at him waving- he backs off immediately and hasnt done it for a few weeks at all- he'll have a little stamp with his front legs now but he wont raise them anymore- i threatened him with tins of dog food and how thats where bad horses end up :D;)
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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When I was a child an old horseman told me that a horse that struck out with it's front feet meant business, as he put it "the back feet are meant to hurt you, the front feet will kill you". While I wouldn't go as far as saying this filly is trying to kill anyone her behaviour & attitude are potentially dangerous & this needs stopping now before it gets worse.

I'm afraid that with this I join the anti-christ brigade! If she does it kick her back, shout, wave your arms or if she's as tiny & delicate as you say give her a damn good shove & make her stagger back out of your way. If she were to do this to my big dominant gelding he'd either strike back at her (if he thought she was worth such grown-up treatment, which I doubt), bite hr very hard & possibly drag her a short distance until she squealed & looked suitably sorry (his treatment for very rude youngsters who have overstepped the mark big time) or, most likely swing his shoulders or quarters into her hard & make her stagger or fall over. It always amazes me just how effective that last treatment is, they look shocked but seldom come back for more & he does it as quite a contemptuous move, a sort of "don't be an annoying little brat, you aren't even worth the effort of kicking or biting!". You, or to be more accurate your friend, need to find a way of mimicking this behaviour before she gets bigger & more adult in her outlook. If your friend can't & continues to let the filly boss her then maybe she shouldn't have a youngster!
 

Wally

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Apr 16, 2000
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A friend went out to work in Iceland with utterly unhandled young horses, fresh from the mountains.


It was her job to get in and try and get a headcollar on them. Being taught in the UK she did her best to go around the front, and not the back end of the horses. Which earned her a shouting at from the head man, that you NEVER go around the front end of a horse, always go around the back!:confused: :confused::eek: Now this confused my friend until they explained to her that frightened, unhandled, mannerless animals are far more likely to strike you with the front end than the back!

She work there for a year and never got kicked by a back end once.
 
J

jaydevon

Guest
it's usually frustration, i have seen it mostly with stallions being cross when teasing a mare who's not ready, or a horse being made to wait for feed or something. i tend to kick them in the shin right back (antichrist alert) and tell them off. it is an aggressive move with the front feet - back feet are the typical defensive ones - and IMO not to be tolerated at all.

LOL am with you there m, snapper not only strikes but will stamp aswell always aimed at your foot, and yes she gets kicked backed. she tends not to strike these days, its more of a stamp and only ever hard food.

(ok one exception, i was sat in the stable and she pawed a book from my hands!)
 

coyote

Nelly's Mum.
May 2, 2007
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I agree with Mehitabel also.
Its very bad manners and i woudnt tolerate it either,Nelly did it once when i first got him as a 2yo,i was very close and slapped him on the chest straight between the front legs ,he has NEVER done it at me since.:cool:
Although i dont know how you will go about it, seeing as its not your horse,i do know though you wont be a pushover where manners and she is concerned.;)
 

Jenbee

Little India
Nov 5, 2007
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When i was looking for a pony i went to see a 4 year old native who hadnt had a lot done with him at all, and after seeing him turned out with others seemed to be exhibiting extremely stallion like behaviour.

When i went to catch him, i patted his neck and he then threw up his head a struck out with his front foot, catching me very hard on the knee. And he meant it - it wasnt as if hed caught me by accident!

He also nipped constantly, was bargy and strong, and wasnt scared of anything that would make him this way, just incredibly dominant and assertive.

Needless to say, i said thanks but no thanks :p he had an awful lot of problems that needed undoing because it obviously hadnt been nipped in the bud when he was younger.

I would definately see the little mares behaviour as cause for concern - but then shes young and it shouldnt be too hard to remedy with a little discipline. I would kick back, gently but so that she understands in her own language that its not acceptable and people are not to be messed with!
 

ForestGump

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Apr 9, 2008
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I ask the horse to move back out of my space.
I would give a small smack on the lower shoulder part and then ask them to move back. Always worked for me.
I've found growling works aswell;)
 

Luc

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Jun 15, 2021
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My yearling has just started pawing wen feeding time, she has had no handling and the little bit she has had has been rough,also if I pat her she backs off she really not happy if u pat her, im worried how to stop this behavior without scaring her and loosing the bond iv made in just 1 week of having her.
 

carthorse

Super Moderator
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Jan 6, 2006
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You might do better starting a new thread rather than bring up one this old.

Your filly sounds like she's pawing at the ground which, combined with it being at feed time sounds like impatience - very different from the aggressive striking out that is the subject of this thread. I'd be inclined to ignore it, it isn't doing any harm.

Patting is something quite a few horses aren't keen on, instead try a quiet gentle scratch near her withers which mimics how horses groom each other.
 
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Huggy

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Hogan did this when I first got him (proof in attached pic!) He had to wait until he stopped to be given his bucket, but I had to be fast so he got the message. And get it he did. Screenshot_20210211-140846_WhatsApp.jpg
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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Niko has this down to an art! It’s a bit of a welshie thing. He doesn’t do it when I have what he wants as he knows he won’t get it that way but he will do it almost any other time just because he’s interested, or itchy, or impatient or bored, or eating or ……he does it more than I like 😝
 
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Doodle92

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Apr 6, 2021
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Robin will do it while eating if he is particularly hungry. Like actually chewing takes tooooo long and he is impatient . Minto also used to do it while eating. Robins buddy again dose it while eating to the point his bucket gets trashed as he kicks it too hard. None are welshies. They only ever do it while eating and so I just ignore it.

Robin will also strike out with a front leg if talking to a new horse, he squeals like a mare and strikes out. I simply don’t put him in that situation.

Horses are not born knowing a pat is a good thing. A scratch in the wither, as suggested, is much better.
 

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