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Why is my horse bucking and how do I train him to stop?

Updated on January 10, 2014

Bucking: Determine Why

Horses learn to buck and rear for a variety of reasons; but once they learn to do it, it can be a challenge to stop. Therefore, it is very important to pinpoint the cause as soon as possible.

I generally would start with looking at eliminating potential physical problems. Here are a few quick and easy things to look for:

· Is your gear causing unnecessary pain or discomfort? Check for cuts on face and gums.

· Saddle fit: When you remove the saddle, are there dry patches of skin. Does the saddle abraid the skin?

· Lunge the horse and check his limbs for heat.

· Have a farrier check his feet for abscess or other signs of soreness.

· What are you feeding your horse? A feed consultant can help you find the best feed for your horse that meets his energy requirements while preventing him from getting hyper.

If you do not find anything with these simple checks, you may want to consult a veterinarian. It is quite possible that your veterinarian may not find an issue.

Bucking: Riding Technique Evaluation

The next place to look is in the evaluation of your riding technique. Riders often inadvertently cause problems. Start by asking yourself, are you being inconsistent with your rein contact? For example, do you leave the reins slack and then suddenly catch the horse in the mouth? Are you riding two handed with a one handed bit such as a grazing bit or curb? Do you have quiet legs? Unquiet legs send conflicting signals. Do you ride with firm leg contact? Tightening your legs each time there is an external stimuli is giving the horse an unintended cue. Are you overly submissive when working your horse?

Learn how to do the emergency stop, where you pull your horse in a circle as it is very difficult for him to buck or rear in this position. The circle disengages his hindquarters. If he is very strong, you may need to use both hands on a single rein. Be sure to stretch him beforehand so as not to injure him when you need to do this. If he does buck, put your weight in your heals, and put your heals down to anchor your position. Then drive the horse forward.

If you find yourself fearing your horse after being bucked off a few times too many, then you may want to consult a professional. While this may have some upfront cost, it can be a lot cheaper in the end if it avoids an accident. At this point, the horse can be “restarted” for a week or two with lunging, positive reinforcement and teaching a lot of forward momentum. There is really no cue for “don’t buck,” so rather than telling your horse what not to do, give your horse something else to think about. If you feel your horse thinking about bucking, ask him to step over a log, sidepass or speed up into a circle.


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    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi equine. Good info. Especially on learning how to do an emergency stop! Thanks for sharing.

    • akune profile image

      akune 6 years ago from Surrey, England, United Kingdom

      What a sensibly written hub. Inclusive enough for non-equestrian readers.