Kicking, too, is a habit that may cause more harm to the handler and other horses than to the horse. (If a horse develops the habit of kicking solid walls however, the habit may certainly cause injury.) Generally, if you are aware that the subject horse is a kicker, stay away from the hind end! During the practicum, you will be shown a method of applying pressure to a specific anatomical site, quite effectively preventing most horses from raising its leg to kick.
Some horses will kick at other animals but rarely threaten their handlers. These animals may need to be stabled and pastured alone or pastured with certain horses or animals that they tolerate well. Many horses only kick when they feel encroached upon such as in a crowded show ring or during an examination. Needless to say, all horses are capable of resorting to their best developed defence mechanism in any given situation. Every horse should be regarded with respect. That said, most horses will provide plenty of warning through gestures and positioning before actually kicking. Remember that their flight instinct is stronger than their fight instinct. If they are indicating distress about a situation, try to diffuse it.
Nonetheless, when massaging a known kicker, your best bet is to work from a safe place while you establish a positive relationship. Gradually work your way back, always reading the horse’s expression and body language for any signs you’ve gone too far (metaphorically and physically). Developing a level of trust may take one or more sessions. The danger involved with a kicking horse is too great to worry about the expectations of a “normal massage.” Build the therapist/horse relationship over time.