Many beginners and experienced riders, and even horse owners are on the lookout for tactics that could save them from bruises and broken bones caused by their four-legged friend’s kick.
Horses are known for their startling behavior, which sometimes gets their owners in trouble. In an equestrian world, surviving a horse kick is considered a bigger accomplishment, but what if we tell you foolproof ways to avoid getting kicked by a horse? Well, in today’s post, we share with you nine effective ways to prevent horse kicks.
Ways to Avoid Getting Kicked by a Horse
There are several reasons that may agitate your horse, but by simply learning their body language and a few other things, you can stop your horse from kicking you. Below are some practical tips to avoid getting kicked by a horse.
Learn to Understand Your Horse’s Body Language
There are a number of reasons that make your horse kick you. Horses use their body language to communicate with their caretakers and riders. So the only way to understand your horse’s feelings is to learn to understand their body language, and you need to be fluent at that.
If your horse is about to kick you, then he will show signs such as swishing his tail, pinning back his ears, and slowly begins shifting his weight to get his back leg ready for a powerful kick. If you notice these signs, stop whatever you are doing and go away from your horse.
Do Not Disturb Them While Eating
Horses particularly get excited when they see a fresh bale of hale or bowl full of oats, and that expression often translates into unintended aggression. Even the calmer horse gets overwhelmed after seeing dinner at the table and can kick you unintentionally out of excitement.
Especially if you own more than one horse and feed all of them together, then there is a high chance of you getting kicked by a horse as they all fight for a spot at the dinner table. Set up the layout of your horse stall in such a way that such incidents can be minimized.
Desensitize Your Horse
You might have heard of desensitizing or bombproofing a horse. Desensitizing is a way to make your horse more tolerant to touch, objects, and sounds that may seem strange to them.
This process helps you better control your horse and make your bond stronger with him. A desensitized horse knows whatever you do, there is no way you are going to hurt them.
Horses often kick you when you try to handle their belly, leg, and hooves because touching these body parts makes them anxious.
Make your horse comfortable to your presence by simply sitting with it for 15 minutes daily. Gradually, try to pick up his hooves or touch his belly. This training will help them to get used to your touch and you will learn to handle them safely.
Learn to Deal With Your Horse in Tight Spaces
Working on this step is extremely important as horses, and tight spaces are not a great combo. However, if you need to enter a horse trailer or stall while the horse is in there, we recommend it’s better to remove your horse from the tight spaces before you enter. But if you don’t have this option, here are some safe ways to enter the tight space.
Before entering the space, start speaking gently to your horse and make eye contact with it, this will make your horse aware of your presence. Entering the area without alerting your horse may scare it, and it might try to kick you.
Make contact with your horse’s hindquarters while moving behind it.
When exiting the space, make sure your face is towards your horse and back out while facing the horse.
Do This When Dealing With a Group of Horses
Be cautious when you are dealing with a lot of horses in the field. Try not to walk between two horses that are in close proximity to each other because if they start to kick one another, you might come across them.
Another way to make your horses aware of your presence is to make different noises as you walk with them. Never enter a field of horses with special treats as horses become really excited or aggressive at the sight of food.
So bringing the treat to the field may shift the horse’s attention towards you and create a hazardous situation where your horse could kick you.
Be Cautious When Turning Your Horse Loose in the Field
How you return a horse into the field really matters. Yes, many of the riders don’t ever have considered the way they release their horses in the stable. But many horses get excited when going back to where you keep them.
Often, horses start moving faster to meet their herd as quickly as possible on their return to the field. Most of the time, horses kick when they get really excited.
Do not turn back towards the horse while exiting. Many equestrians do not face the equine as they exit through the stable.
The best practice to return a horse to a field is to reposition it in a way that your horse is facing you and the gate as you move back towards it to exit. Turning your back on your horse or not repositioning it increases the chances of being kicked.
Avoid a Horse Kick by Not Startling Them
If your horse feels stressed or threatened, it will kick you. Although, not all horses get scared easily. Some horses get scared by sudden noises such as thunder, backfiring of a car, screaming children, etc. Others may get spooked by any foreign object lying on the ground.
The point here is some horses are easier to scare than others. If that’s the case with your horse, we suggest desensitizing it to stop it from getting scared of everything. If desensitizing your horse is not an option, then try not to startle your horse to avoid getting kicked.
Maintain the Distance When Horses Are Worked Up
If a horse is angry, scared, or stressed out, you can recognize it by various signs. If you see your horse showing any of these signs, it’s better to wait until he has calmed down. Or you can take help from an experienced horse person before approaching your horse or group of horses. Here are some signs that a worked up horse might show:
- Ears laid back flat at their heads
- Excessive tail swishing
- Moves its ears in all directions, trying to listen to everything at once
- Alert eyes that are wide open
- A slightly lower head moving side to side
People Also Asked
We have answered some queries regarding horse kicks. Let’s have a look.
Do horses kick when you are behind them?
Their excellent peripheral vision allows them to see almost 360 degrees. Although, horses have a blind spot directly behind them. So, when you approach them from behind, they don’t see you and think you are a predator and might kick.
To avoid getting kicked by your horse, always approach them from the front or the side, to let them know you are entering their space. Or, if you are entering their space from behind, do make some noise to alert them that someone is coming.
Can horse kicks kill a person?
Yes, a powerful horse kick has the potential to kill a person. Death as a result of horse kicks is real. That’s why it is highly recommended not to train a chronic kicker without the help of a trained professional.
One wrong step can take you to the hospital and, if you are fortunate enough, will leave you with a nasty gash. Otherwise, you may end up with fractured bones and muscle injuries.
Primarily, horses kick to protect themselves or express frustration or show their power. Therefore it is advised to be careful when approaching them, as horse kicks may cause severe gashes, bruising, or even death in some cases.
How can I protect myself from horse kicks?
Always stay alert around horses. Try to focus on the horse you are working with, as well as any other horse standing close to you. Pay attention to pinned ears, swishing tails, flared nostrils, and other signs that show your horse is getting angry. If your horse shows any of these signs, try to calm it or clear its path before the horse blows up.
Don’t bring treats with you to the horses’ herd as they might become competitive or aggressive to get the treat. You might get caught in the fire and get an injury. Also, tie the horses far enough from each other, that, they don’t try to kick each other, and you can safely walk between them. Don’t walk among loose horses. Because a horse that moves freely may send signals like “don’t come closer” which means you are in a position where you are most likely to be kicked or attacked.
Whenever you are working with your horse on the ground, consider staying close to its body. The most harmful kicks land when your horse has enough space to extend his leg. Kick at a close distance hurts, but they usually don’t cause serious injury. Don’t use your cell phone around horses. Whether you’re in the saddle or on the foot, stop texting, talking, and indulging in other cell phone activities. Proper attention is the way to avoid getting kicked by a horse and ensure safety around horses.
What are the ways in which horses kick?
Typical horses do a straight-back kick to defend themselves from an attacker, such as a wild coyote that attacks it or a human that approaches it from behind. Cow kick is another type of kick that swings to the side.
And, particularly, the “cow kick” is a sneaky kick as you never see this type of kick coming. This kick often comes when a person is bending in under the horse to clean its hooves or treating it for an injury.
Cow kicks are extremely dangerous, although they may not be as powerful as straight backward kicks. But they can execute directly on your vital body parts such as your head and may break your bones and even kill you.
Moreover, your horse can kick you with its front feet, known as stallion kick which is equally lethal as cow kick. A stallion kick has the potential to crush your skull.
Most of the time, horse handlers and trainers have to deal with aggressive, anxious or worked up equines that try to kick them. Knowing how to behave around the horse and what signs to look for can make a big difference and save you from any potential mishap or injury. Additionally, following the above steps will help you avoid getting kicked by a horse and minimize the risk of bruises and broken bones.