Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Terrorist Kittens

Dear Franklin,

Your website is amazing and it's a true testament to your conviction that you help people with their questions without charging for it. I am grateful to have found this site.

This is embarrassing but I cannot figure this out. My young horse (18 months now) has become psycho about little kittens in our barn. Granted they are evil little cats (cute as can be) that tease him relentlessly and lay in his path until he's on top of them then jet away, or dash out at the last second and play chicken with him. But when I'm lungeing him they pop up and he will literally flip around in mid stride (gorgeous rollbacks) trying to kill them! He rears, kicks, bucks, strikes (these are quick half movements, not full out of control movements) whatever he can to clip one as he goes by. Now I've tried stopping him and making him back, I've tried yelling, cracking the whip in the air to drive him by and distract him from seeing the cat, pulling him toward me when i see he's about to make his move and I've even tried ignoring it and continuing on as if nothing happened. Nothing works, nothing stops him from reacting. I've even tried holding the cat against all parts of his face and neck while speaking soothingly. It's the way they move that gets him. I'm not sure if they scare him or it's a dominance thing but he completely loses his focus on me the second he sees the cats and I can't keep them out of the barn or arena. What can I do??

With gratitude!

Hi Jan,

So you have terrorists living in the barn, huh? I have never heard anything with horses and kittens quite like what you are describing. Forgive me, but I had to chuckle a bit. Your horse is still very young and immature (as are the kitties). You need to cut both a lot of slack. But some horses like to chase things smaller than them (dogs, chickens, calves, other horses smaller or lower in rank, etc.) because they can and enjoy setting them to running away. Horses like that can develop into great 'cow horses' and/or cutting horses. I do not know your horses breeding background. If it is a quarter horse with some cow horse breeding, this is definately the reason your horse wants to chase down the cats. He would probably do the same thing with dogs or other smaller animals. Some folks would say this is a blessing (depending on what you want to do with your horse). If it is a hunter/jumper this is probably a real pain in the you know where and you could chalk a lot of it up to immaturity). The only remedy I think is to continue on with attempting to move the horse through the distraction of the cats as you seem to be trying to do. If you run over a cat, well.....things happen and you cannot control all animals within your sphere all the time. If the cats create a dangerous situation for you or your horse, you will need to remove/confine the cats when you are working with the horse. I know of some barns where the cats are confined during the 'working' day. Consider that possibility. Mice come out at night and the cats don't need to be out all day. Your horse will mature out of most of that (unless he has a genetic predisposition to chasing and herding other animals). Very interesting email and I thank you for your kind words. Keep me posted......

Sincerest regards, Franklin

Dear Franklin,

Thank you so much for getting back to me in days! I am amazed at the great service you provide to people and of course the horses that benefit from your caring wisdom!!

My horse IS bred with a lot of "cow horse". He's a Paint/Quarter Zan Parr Bar great grandson. In fact once you said that I felt a little silly as I remember when he was 7 months old in a field of calves, he would lower his head and "cut" one calf after another from the herd and drive them into the woods. I laughed then but I didn't associate that with him chasing the cats. I was afraid he had a mean streak. Thank you for helping me to appreciate yet another quality of my young horse's disposition.

Reining and cutting are not something I know a lot about so maybe I'll take some lessons before it's time to put him under saddle so that I'm more ready for his "talents". Knowing where his actions are coming from though makes me feel less disturbed and more patient in teaching him to handle it.

Thank you again, Franklin! I hope I can come to you again with questions!

Look for: