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Why Horse Buck and How to Stop this Behavior

Updated on May 27, 2009


In order to understand why a horse bucks it is helpful to take a closer look at the circumstances taking place before the actual bucking takes place. Horses buck for several reasons, the causes may be quite diverse, but  ultimately the action remains still the same: an unexpected rodeo witnessed first hand. If your horse bucks often, hold on tight and learn about what can be done to reduce this behavior.

Why Does a Horse Buck?

  • Joy of Life

Horses can be quite vivacious creatures, the view of a green pasture may give a horse the instinct to run and celebrate life by acting exhuberant and bucking a few times. You can see this behavior already in colts that playfully run around the paddock looking for new adventures or the day. Seeing a horse buck from joy is a pleasure,  perhaps a little less if you are riding him .

  • Pent up Energy

Horses that have been closed in the stables for a few days, may run and buck once let out. This is normal behavior due to excessive energy. Horses need a lot of daily exercise and if your horse remains closed for a few days either because of inclement weather or because of a temporary injury, once out your horse may be quite hyperactive.

  • High Energy Foods

If you horse is on a high energy diet such as oats, this may cause him to feel much more energetic and will therefore, be more likely to buck to release this excess energy. Too much fuel ends up causing a horse with too much energy.

  • Unfit Equipment

Is the saddle the correct size for your horse, Sometimes a saddle of the wrong size may cause pain and continuous friction which may turn painful. Is the girth too tight? This may cause chaffing to the sensitive skin areas. Is the bit causing problems? Sometimes the bit may be painful on horses with dental problems.

  • Lack of Training

If the horse is very young and not quite used to wearing a saddle or having somebody ride him, it will be an instict to buck to get the saddle or the rider off.  With time, these young horses eventually will get used to the saddle and will buck less and less.

  • Back Pain

Horses with a history of bucking sometimes were diagnosed with a case of back pain. It is certainly something to look into if the horse bucks frequently especially if the bucking occurs mostly when the the saddle is placed and the rider is on top.

How to Stop a Horse from Bucking?

Often riders are able to tell when a horse is about to buck. Most horses will lower their head  in order to buck efficiently. Preventing a horse from lowering the head may make it difficult for a horse to buck. Another method is to pull the reins to the left or the right allowing the horse to touch your leg with its nose. This position will not allow bucking. Turning in tight circles may help as well and may as well discourage the behavior in the long run.

As seen, horses buck for several reasons. It is the owner's or rider's job to figure out what is causing the bucking and act consequently. Hyperactive horses should be kept in a corral to release the excessive energy before being ridden, horses that eat high energy foods should undergo a diet change, horses with suspected back pain should see a veterinarian or chiropractor and horses that simply love life should be allowed to enjoy it as much as they can along with their owners.

Does your horse put up a show?



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    • profile image

      Ce 6 years ago

      What some people on here posting comments don't realize is that when a horse bucks and you get off and put him up, he learns that he only has to buck and he's done working. That's a good way to ruin a horse..

    • profile image

      Cecelia 6 years ago

      Hi there everyone I have a 6.5 year old morgan whom I rode all summer without incidence from May until Sept, Sept being the first bucking experience. I have osteo; whereby, I fractured my back as I was thrown over her head. Damned good bucker! I believe the commencement of her bucking behavior was either bad saddle fit due to loss of weight (she needed weight reduction; however, I should have thought about the change in saddle needs or pilot error I was not a strong enough leader or possibly just not feeling good. Ruby came up sick at a the prvious stable while I was away. Today she is shinney as a new penny with more energy then I have ever seen in her. I plan to have her spine checked and if that is good it is obviously behavior learned or otherwise. She is being worked with by a professional trainer and I plan to ride one of his well-trained horses in the hopes of regaining my confidence. Anyone out there with a similar story, I would love to hear it. My Ruby is a 14.2 morgan whom had 60 days training ( whatever 60 days equats too) on her at the time I purchased her.

    • profile image

      Laurie 6 years ago

      My horse Sedona i have witnessed this on two occasions Bucking when we come back from ride she usually does this when a horse in front of her takes off running she get excited wants to follow and when the rider holds her back she goes into a bucking bronco buck its hard to stay on for most .So my common sense tells me to get back on work her hard .. Take off on the trail, go a little ways turn around and repeat maybe go further each time ,till she is not so excited and gets it right..I think it might take several times till we get it right stay tuned...

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      smart-donkey 6 years ago

      My young paint bucked me bronco style and I have been tossed before but this time I hurt my knee trying to hang on.The trainer is his next stop for's worth the money to have a good professional to put some time on him.I consider my self a good rider but when I think about spending 6months in a cast (or worse) I will leave breaking to the coyboys.

    • profile image

      Jackie 6 years ago

      My guy is 5 and after a work out (1 hr) and he decides he is done and I try to turn around in the other direction he becomes horse gone wild. However, yesterday I discover it was because the girt was to tight with his new winter coat. Always check the impression of saddle marks afterwards.

    • profile image

      nikki 6 years ago

      Recently received a 9 year old tb as a gift. A friend rescued him. The horse and I bonded, he doesn't like men very much. He rides good, then it's like he forgets all training. No stop, side stepping, starts spinning. Recently I was in the saddle I got it all including a few bucks. He is 17plus. So long way down. Help!!!

    • profile image

      Meagan 6 years ago

      I ride a big belgain (10) named hoss and he has bucking and space problems. He will walk over you on the ground and on his back he will ride nicely until a certain point. His bucks are huge. I dont sit on his kidneys I am sure and he does not like any other person im trying to work with him before i get back into the saddle to work with him there but any advice before i ride him again would be nice. ps- i ride bb on him, he does not have a fitting saddle

    • profile image

      Casslee 6 years ago

      I have the same problem! I rode my new horse on Saturday - Complete gentlemen! then Sunday i put the saddle on him, walked up the road- he was fine took him out of the gate and my gosh! the leaping bucking craze i couldn't believe it! I stayed on I think just lol but when he stopped he stopped with his head between his legs???? i walked him away and jumped back on him and he did it again? I don't understand why and I really don't want to be 3500 grand out on a nutcase!

    • profile image

      Chevygirl 6 years ago

      My horse bucks because he knows he could get away with it. He is used in lessons as well as when i ride him, He is the type of horse that will get away with as much as possible... Maybe lessons are not good for hiim because the little beginner kids let him get away with murder, seriously. now he bucks as soon as you put your legs on to get him to move. I am fairly new to riding as well, so he used to buck = i used to get off. Tomorrow i am going to try touching his nose to my leg, and not get off! hopefully this will work because bucking scares the hell out of me, and we've never had this problem before! Wish me luck!

    • profile image

      Ashley 6 years ago

      This was helpful, but my horse is still bucking. I go trail riding with my brother and the horses were butt to head and so I gave him some time to canter ahead of me and my horse bolted and bucked and she has done it 3 times and I don't know how to fix this problem...

    • profile image

      ctillia 6 years ago

      My husband got my a 4yr old mare for my birthday last yr. she was very docile, lack in energy, I started riding her on trails, I even took my 3yr old son on her on a couple trail rides because she didn't want to give anything more than a walk. I had rode her a few times then she bucked me off for the 1sr time, but I was able to get back on her and ride her that day. Then a couple of wks had gone by and I did some ground work with her and went to ride her and she bucked me off after she had taken a few steps toward the road, then I mounted her again, also a few steps then and she bucked me off again. Then my husband wanted to try to ride her, he's a good bit bigger than me, and he didn't even get his seat and she bucked him off. So, we put her back out to pasture, after a month went by I noticed her belly was getting bigger and decided that there was a good chance she was in foal, and I was right today she has a two month old colt. She does seem to have some trust issues because she gets nervous about things such as farriers and she doesn't want her feet picked up, so I do believe she was abuse some by a previous owner. When I think back on when she bucked me off maybe I did lay on her kidneys but beside that I do believe she has trust issues with people and that she may have vision problems that Ill the vet check out this summer.

    • sfrentz06 profile image

      sfrentz06 7 years ago from Sterling Heights, MI, USA

      Another great hub, I really love reading your animal hubs, the information is very useful. When I was a child my dad (he was green and so was the horse) tried to break a horse to saddle, the saddle loosened and slid almost under him, frightening the horse. Dad could never get that particular horse to allow a rider after that. We found out that horses can be ruined, or their training severly hindered by this. My dad learned a lot since that day.

    • profile image

      GeorgiaO 7 years ago

      I have recently moved barns, with everyone at my old barn because it got sold. The problem is, is that the arena isn't connected to the barn, and my horse named Rosie, doesn't like to be alone. I rode with two other people, and Rosie was fine. Right when they left, her head wen't down, and started bucking. I sat straight up, and got her head up, so she couldn't buck. the next time she started bucking and bolting again, and i couldn't get her head up and i fell head firsts into a standard, and landed on a little mounting block. she even broke to reins! I checked her tack, and her feet, and there wasn't anything wrong with her! how can i get Rosie to stop this? It's really dangerous for us, and the other riders.

    • profile image

      TBGGIIRRLLL 7 years ago

      i adopted a TB gelding(5yrs) from a horse rescue and when i first got him he was fine but he is really competitive, seeing as he was a trained racehorse. he used to be so laidback and slow but now everytime i take him out he starts to go into random mad dashes and jumps and bucks in the air. then when he walks hes fine again. i noticed that when my sister is riding ahead he tries to catch up sometimes but i hold him back because im afraid he is gonna buck, then he gets kinda pissy because i dont let him run. any suggestions? anyone?

    • profile image

      Patrice 7 years ago

      My horse (TB) bucks when bugs are biting his underside and when we are out trail riding with other "hot" horses who run up and down hills (owner doesn't know enough to try to control him and let's the horse take over). The trick is to get his head up without making him stop and get him to move forward.... easier said than done but we're making progress.

    • profile image

      Carol 8 years ago

      I have a horse that I have started to school and I have tried to climb on his back for three times now and every time I have hit the ground. The saddle fits, he has no extra energy ( I lunge him regularly and also before trying to sit on him) and he is kind in nature. I am confused and have no idea what to try next.

    • ddsurfsca profile image

      deb douglas 8 years ago from Oxnard

      The most common, second to not enough exercise, is that many times riders or weight gets shifted and when it touches their kidney area it tickles them, and they have no control over the bucking action. Kidneys are located just behind the back of the saddle, like where a second rider would sit if riding double. This is why the strap around the bucking horse in the picture above, right on kidney area, hence, bucking....

    • profile image

      Tallonboy 8 years ago

      I have a Canadian Gelding was gelded last year at the age of 12 not my choice well someone must tell him he's not a stallion anymore because it's been twice i wanted to canter and he bucked me off full of energy is the word just won't stop is there anything i can do need hell real bad.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 years ago from USA

      She sure sounds like a horse with lots of energy! You sound like the perfect owner, ever thought of buying her? I am sure you would have the will and patience to calm her down!

    • profile image

      shadiw2341 8 years ago

      i have a horse well not really mine she's a school horse and she bucks i am the closet with her and she's a doll on the ground she probably won't buck when i ride because were so close but no one will let me ride her they want to sell her. she doesn't have a right fitted saddle or bridle she's on high energy food and has a lot of pent up energy everyone is scared of her but i believe that she can stop bucking if she gets a fitted saddle and bridle and was a lower energy food and and had less pent up energy.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 years ago from USA

      Great information. Thank you, yes I can see horses doing this from memories of abuse. I owned an abused horse and she was terrified of sticks because her abuser very likely hit her with them. She never forgot even though I tried to desensitize her..

    • MagicStarER profile image

      MagicStarER 8 years ago from Western Kentucky

      Good analysis on bucking reasons. Maybe another one could have to do with abuse in the horse's past? For some horses simply seeing a bridle and saddle makes them fire up, or for others, just someone to get on their back. Sometimes they are remembering some abusive scenario in their past which makes them act up. Horses have good memories.

      Also, horses have personalities like people do. Sometimes they just don't happen to feel like being ridden right then, or maybe they just don't like the person that is going to ride them.

      My sister had a horse that would rare up anytime he saw a man carrying anything in his hand. (He had been beaten with a stick by a prior trainer in his past)

      Word of advice? Never sit on a horse's kidney area.

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 8 years ago

      I had a horse once that bucked off everyone who climbed on board. Except me. He had been a 9 year old "scrub" horse when I got him. I spent alot of time with my hands on him before he gentled up to me. But I was eventually able to ride him with ease. No one else ever could. I guess he was a one person horse. Because he sure did bow up when anyone else climbed on!

    • profile image

      Dr. Rob Simmons 8 years ago

      This topic got my attention when i saw you were talking about horses back pain. I have a friend who is a chiropractor and only adjusts horses. She says they are nicer to work with than people. :)

    • AppGal330 profile image

      AppGal330 8 years ago

      LOL you left out "just because they're being a bone-head" ;-) My gelding will go along for ages (he's 5 yrs old) like he's an old man, then all of a sudden he'll decide I need a thrilling ride....NOT lol


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