Getting Kicked: What It's Like and How to Avoid It

I have a feeling that a lot of people less familiar with horses will read the title and be a little freaked out, but I really do think that this is important to talk about and acknowledge. Plus, you’ll get to read about a couple of the times I’ve been kicked, which is supposed to be educational. Getting kicked by a horse is serious business—a 1,200lbs horse can put about 300 lbs of pressure behind a kick. Although it can be mild, some kicks can cause serious injury or even death, so at the end of the day, it’s really no laughing matter. Having said that, let’s move on to the good stuff.

I remember the first time I really got kicked almost moment by moment. I had been on the receiving end of small kicks and love taps, but it hits differently when it’s a real kick—trust me, you’ll know the difference. It was November of 2011, a chilly day in Montana, and I was about to take my mare, Jasmine, out of her pen and put her on the trailer to go to our horsemanship class. Jasmine had been trouble since the moment I got her (you can read more about our story here), including two small taps on the rib cage when she reared up and struck out at me, but this time was different. I walked her through the gate, turned around to close it, and BAM. No ears back, no warning, just a hoof to the back. She got me with the toe of her back foot, which is where they have the most impact, and I got nailed on my lower back about two inches to the right of my spine. I didn’t fall, but I doubled over because that hurt. Surprisingly enough, we ended up going to class and having a relatively quiet ride.

One of the next times I got kicked is probably the one that people find the most shocking. I was down in West Virginia, going around to each of the horse’s stalls and doing a thrush treatment while they were eating. A small black Quarter Horse stallion named Bee was very busy eating while I picked up and treated his front feet, and continued to eat, unflinchingly, throughout this next moment. I touched his hock to ask him to pick up his foot, and then BAM. His foot landed right over my right eye. The force knocked me back a few steps until I was out of the stall and then I sat down on the ground for a minute to get my bearings. I went to the barn meeting, went to my ride classes, and then my mom called me and told me to get my butt to the hospital (she found out because I posted about it on Facebook—oops!), so I did. I had a concussion and bruising on my nose and around my right eye, but he had missed the eye itself when he kicked me so it didn’t affect my vision.

These events shouldn’t ever be glorified—getting kicked is not fun. Getting kicked in the back was very sharp; it knocked the breath out of me. That one also really hurt my feelings—she was my first horse and I felt like she hated me. When I got kicked in the face, I was so shocked that it took a second to start hurting, but it felt sore; the pain in my nose made my eyes water. Both times I could’ve gotten seriously hurt.

As for avoiding getting kicked in the first place, here are some suggestions:

-Stay alert.

-Be aware of the horse at all times.

-Walk behind a horse the right way—the closer the better. There’s more power to a kick when you’re a foot behind them but it’s harder for a horse to kick you if you’re right up against their rear.

Horses are large animals with minds of their own, so sometimes these things happen. Don’t get discouraged if it happens to you—a lot of horse people experience this at some point in their lives. Look back on it, see what you could’ve done differently to possibly avoid getting kicked, and apply it if you’re ever in a similar situation. Doing what you love can be safe and fun—just use your head!

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