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Horse kicking out when asked to canter

Hello, About a year ago I bought a 6 year old gelding for my 8 year old daughter to ride, she loves this horse and has gotten very attached to him and loves to ride. For the past year she was just learning to ride and has been playing on some barrels on him, they got along great. He never got out of hand, ran to fast, just what she could handle. Until she got to where she was asking him for more speed, now if she ask him for anything faster than a short lope he will kick out. most of the time he won't get out of a trot but if he does you can bet he is going to kick out. I never heard of a horse that won't run. Then of course if she tries to make him he will kick out standing still or start to back. We have found out he does not like a whip because if she whips him to try to make him go he will kick out one time for every time she whips. I don't know what is going on but he is a good easy going horse and I would like to get him fixed where he will run for her, she loves him and rides him 6 out of 7 days a week. If you have any ideas please email back.

Thanks, Teena

Hi Teena,

It is very common for a horse only ridden by children or novice riders and never lunged or 'played' with on the ground to get a bad attitude when asked to go any faster than a trot. It is not a difficult situation to remedy, but takes some training skill and a bit of time. It is like a human never asked to go more than a snails pace over time. Habits, such as patterns of movement, are picked up by horses quickly. If there is little change in the 'pattern' over time, there is a lot of resistance when finally asked to speed things up. Your situation is not unusual given the horse is only ridden by your daughter and never by experienced riders who can keep the horse 'tuned up' through regular schooling.

Your horse needs to be lunged regularly and appropriately asked (pressured) to move. At first there will be a lot of kicking, bucking, balking and maybe other behavior that is resistant to moving faster. But with no rider on board it is no big deal. It doesn't sound like you have the experience to do this. You will need to find someone who does. After the horse begins to loosen up on the ground, have an experienced rider ride the horse to re-school it and get it going well 'under saddle'. Your horse is not bad or wrong. It is suffering from lack of appropriate handling and riding on a regular basis. For a horse to stay compliant and willing to do as requested, it must be regularly handled and ridden by experienced riders.

Please understand it is not about showing the horse 'who is boss'. It is not about using a whip. It is not about making the horse do anything. It is only about moving beyond an old habit. It is about leadership, skill and guidance. The horse/human relationship is a dance. Two partners with one leader. It is up to us (humans) to always lead the horse appropriately. It should not be expected that a horse be compliant if no leader is around. It is more than loving the animal, feeding and grooming. It is more than your daughter riding the horse regularly. She is a child and does not have the leadership/equestrian skills to keep the horse compliant.

I promise you if you can get an accomplished rider to ride this horse on a regular basis (and get through the initial stages of resistance by the horse), your problem should be solved. You horse will get 'sour' again if it is only your daughter riding it. Thanks for your question and please keep me posted on how it all goes.

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