Training

Kick the Habit

Kick chains can put a stop to the banging.

I once had two mares who didn’t have bad manners in general, but when they’d see me come into the barn to get their feed, they’d stand there and paw. I put a kick chain – which can also be called a pawing chain – on each of them, and the next day, they stood there and watched me without making a racket.

The mares wore the chains while they were in their stalls for the next couple of days, and then I never had to use them again. The bad habit had been broken.



A kick chain consists of a piece of leather fitted around a horse’s pastern, with a 12-inch piece of stainless steel chain attached. You want stainless steel chain and hardware, because the horse is going to be dragging this piece of equipment around in his stall, and you don’t want something that can rust.

It works pretty simply. The chain will slap the horse’s leg when he paws or kicks. He’s causing his own discomfort, and most horses will figure it out pretty quickly.

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I always remove the kick chain before I take the horse out of his stall. I don’t want him to move around too much with it on and accidentally step on it. And use common sense. You wouldn’t want to put a kick chain on an overactive horse who has access to a paddock or run where he might try to move out a little.

The kind of latch I like is really easy to fasten – there’s no looking for buckle holes. There’s a thick piece of harness leather that has a tab on the end. It threads through a stainless steel rectangle and basically latches on itself. It won’t come undone, but it’s easy to unfasten when you’re ready to take it off.

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AQHA Word Champion Doug Milholland explains some popular bits and the correct way to use them.

Usually, it’s not necessary to put more than one chain on. I’ve seen only a few horses who were more or less criminals, and they would figure out that they could paw or kick with the foot without the chain. But most horses just think that pawing or kicking causes discomfort, and they’ll quit doing it with both feet.

These chains are simple little things, but they do work, and they allow horses to train themselves without the handlers having to get in the middle of it.

Whether you’re renewing your membership or joining for the first time, being an AQHA member come with plenty of perks. You can get corporate partner discounts, receive America’s Horse magazine, show at official shows and join the horseback riding program!