- peace in the stable
Article in Absolute Horse, Summer 2011
STOP BANGING THAT DOOR ! Product review: Kick Stop
I was really interested to receive a product to test that proclaimed it could stop stable kicking in an instant..
Owning, the ideal candidate, Billy, a loveable, 24 year old, TB cross Gypsy trotting horse who has also been a habitual stable kicker for the last 12 years, I was keen to put it to the test.
Could it really teach an old horse a new trick??
I hasten to add, if he hadn’t been such a fantastic ridden horse to us for so many years – perfect hunter, brilliant XC, careful showjumper, fabulous working hunter, amazing schoolmaster, and in later years turning his toes to side saddle and bringing even more silverware home, he probably would have been in the “small ads” years ago!
Although Billy never seemed to injure himself, it was a habit that actually caused me intense irritation and no doubt the other horses around him, as he would kick constantly at certain times – around feed time, turn out time, or even when bringing in from the field he would stand at the metal gate and bang that too!
I know he always likes to be centre of attention, but it was becoming just too much especially when he gate banged at 6 o’clock in the morning, wanting to come in, but also waking up our paying guests, staying in our barn accommodation!
The Kick Stop product arrived in the post (not a large box) and I handed it straight over to my very practical husband, as I am not the best person to assemble anything that needs a screwdriver.
The rubber pad has a metal strip along the top which you fit to wherever the horse kicks in the stable – Billy’s favourite place was stable door in the middle. There is then a connection into the pad which you can remove very easily and leave just the pad when it has done its desired job.
There is a small electric fence type energiser that provides the little zap and this is connected to the pad, and the energiser is earthed in the normal way.
When it was installed, we didn’t connect it for a couple of days, so that Billy could get used to the pad in his stable (he is a bit wary of anything new!). He continued to kick the door in the normal way. We then turned the energiser on and when he went to kick next time he got a zap back.
I was concerned that it would frighten him and send him spinning around in the stable, but it didn’t. He reacted and wondered what had “stung” him, and then went to do it again, and again got a “zap”, this time he realised that it was the pad that was reprimanding him for this behaviour. He was perfectly happy to accept this and from then on has been so quiet. He stood in the middle of his stable for a little while, but now is happy to come to the front of the stable and put his head over as normal.
Interestingly enough, he doesn’t even think to try banging the gate, although I haven’t put the pad there as the gate is metal (didn’t think that was a good idea), but he obviously now associates banging on
anything as a big “no, no”. Standing a few feet away he just paws at the ground. I am amazed at how quickly this pad, using negative reinforcement, has resulted in him being happy to realise that banging and kicking is not acceptable.
The manufacturer’s main purpose for Kick Stop was for “protecting” valuable competition horses from injuring their limbs whilst stabled, and this thought made me think more about Billy. Whilst I was never really worried about him damaging his limbs, I know do wonder whether the arthritis that he has in his knees could be attributed to him banging for so long.
And yes… it really did teach an old horse a new trick!