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Why Horses Kick


Kicking is part of socially acceptable play among horses in the wild, so stall kicking may begin as a natural behavior, then become an exaggerated and obsessive habit.  Like many stable vices, stall kicking can be socially contagious.  Neighboring horses may mimic the behavior of the kicker or begin to kick as an interactive game.  Some horses seem to interpret the sound of kicking as a threat, and kick in defense.

If your horse begins kicking in its stall, it is important that you attempt to understand and address the motivations for kicking, prior to trying to stop the behavior. A great deal of information on stall kicking is available on the internet, but here is a list of things to consider before you try to "correct" your horse's behavior.

* Provide a regular routine and exercise.  You may find increasing these two things is enough to quiet your horse in the stall.  In parallel, you should examine your horse's feed to be sure you are not feeding more than what is needed to maintain your horse, given the amount of exercise s/he is getting.

 * Insure your horse gets ample turn out time and provide as much mental stimulation for him or her as possible when stalled.  Boredom can be a key factor in kicking.  Horses are herd animals.  Time spent socializing with other horses, foraging for food and moving about freely are instinctive needs.  More information on 'enriching' your horses environment can readily be found on the internet.

* Do NOT give the kicking horse hay or treats to "quiet him" - it only reinforces the behavior. 

Consider changing your horse's stall.  Sometimes stall kicking results when there is aggression between two horses stalled next to one another. Even horses that get along in the field can be protective of their feed at grain time, leading to kicking to warn their neighbor away.  

* Work with your veterinarian to be sure your horse is not reacting to a physical ailment.     Stall kicking can be a sign that your horse is uncomfortable or in pain. Any number of physical problems can cause a horse to kick out as discomfort comes and goes. Skin conditions caused by insects, bacteria or viruses (especially on heavily feathered breeds) are an obvious source of annoyance. Other examples of physical problems that can cause intermittent kicking include: musculoskeletal pain, gastric ulcers, urinary tract infections, strangulating lipomas (a fatty tumor on a stalk that "strangles" some part of the intestine), foot abscesses, inguinal hernias, kidney stones, bladder stones, enteroliths (intestinal stones), gas colic, and gastric impactions.

QuitKick is not meant to be a substitute for good horsemanship.  

Kicking is an annoying habit - for humans as well as for those horses in the barn whose rest is disturbed by the noise and disruption. QuitKick WILL stop your horse from kicking, but please do not install a QuitKick without first considering your horse's health and welfare. 

A note on kick chains

The most common “cure” for a stall kicking habit is kick chains or leg restraints. Left unattended, kick chains, hobbling, scotch hobbling, side lining, or cross hobbling can cause more damage to the horse than the kicking itself.


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