Question: “I am working with a three-year-old filly that really kicks at a rope around her feet. She will get very nervous and blows up pretty good, especially if the rope gets around her back feet. Any thought on how to help with this would be appreciated.”
Martin: “The horse will fight when they feel they can’t take flight. Kicking is fighting. If they are bothered by something above their back, they will usually try to take flight. If something bothers them I will start up high with it until they start to accept it and then work down lower. By starting low with a flag or rope it’s easy for them to fight it.
If a horse wants to kick, you might put the loop of your rope through the seat of the saddle, or even in front of the saddle horn, so it stays in place and let it hang over his rump, keeping it above his hocks.
The idea is to allow them to move around a round pen or on the end of the lead rope taking flight, not restricting the movement so much it causes them to fight. If they move too fast for too long and their adrenaline stays up, it can have a negative impact.
If I don’t see them make a change or try to accept it in a few minutes, I would restrict their movement more by bringing their nose and causing them to step their hindquarters out more to try to help them find it.
Let them soften up and accept the rope above the hocks, then let it drop down a little bit lower. After they start accepting it in that position, you can position it to where one leg is through the loop and then the other.
Again, regardless of how the rope is positioned, the idea is to allow or encourage them to take flight and not cause them to fight. Let them work at it for a short spell, then make sure they find a place that they can accept it.
Good luck, and thanks for your question.”