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The Warning Signs of Horses Kicking

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Your horse's kick is capable of severely damaging inanimate objects as well as injuring or even killing animals and humans. If you know the warning signs that your horse is about to kick, you have a better chance of avoiding such an extremely painful and confidence-destroying experience.

Why Horses Kick

Horses kick for an assortment of different reasons. In most cases, horses kick because they are either afraid or feeling defensive. Some horses develop aggressive habits, becoming regular kickers because they feel that kicking has a desirable result. Desirable results for a horse might include making pasture mates leave him alone while he is eating or by getting him out of something he views as an unpleasant experience, such as being worked or having his back feet handled.

Pinned Ears

One of the first ways your horse will show he is angry or unhappy is by pinning his ears. When a horse pins his ears, he lays them flat back against his head. Ears pinning may be accompanied by other aggressive behaviors, or it may stand alone. It is essential that you handle any horse who is pinning his ears at you with extreme caution. Pinned ears are a warning sign that a horse may be about to behave aggressively, including biting or kicking.

Tail Swishing

Horses who are getting upset may twitch their tails or swish them back and forth. If you notice your horse is swishing his tail back and forth, combined with other warning behavior like pinned ears, you may be witnessing signs your horse is working himself up to kicking. Another sign your horse is planning on kicking is if he has lifted or cocked one hind leg. Your horse will not be bearing any weight on the leg is preparing to kick you with. All his weight will be placed on his other hind leg and the front legs.

Red Ribbon

If you are on a trail ride or at a horse show, you need to be aware that some of the horses there may be habitual kickers. The owners of horses who kick will normally tie red ribbons into their horse's tails. A horse with a red ribbon tied or braided into his tail should be treated as a kicker; avoid getting within kicking range of that horse.