They weren't bucked off, they bailed off - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 03-24-2014, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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They weren't bucked off, they bailed off

One of the few lasting lessons from riding a few hundred bulls in my bulletproof youth, was this Mantra “You land where you look”. Also, things often look much worse than they actually are. As someone who has had innumerable unplanned dismounts, allow me to share with you a few tips to keep you safer, and avoid meeting terra firma.
Notice where he’s looking

First of all, in a wreck, many people get scared and look for an out. They stop looking where they want to go and look at some other spot, usually to one side. The spot that they look at inevitably becomes their own personal runway. One of the first bits of advice given to novice Roughstock riders is to tuck your chin to your chest and focus on the bull’s/bronc’s withers and neck, just in front of your hand hold. Why? Because that spot is where you want to land.
I’ve written many times about looking ahead and not staring at your horse’s ears. This tends to get your horse knowing where your attention lies and following your intentions. If he’s “with you”, he’ll follow your gaze and magically, you end up where you were looking. Several things, however, differ in this situation from those which will lead to terra firma. You generally don’t come off of a horse that is with you. You come off of a horse that has left you. A horse which has left you, and especially one who has gone into the reactive state of Fight of Flight is pretty much unaware of any suggestion you may have unless it is VERY VERY loud.
bending them around brings the mind back to the here and now

On such a horse, your intention should be to get things stopped. Shut ‘em down. No mas. Remember, the reason the horse goes between those two trees that you are looking at is because your body follows your intentions also and that is what the horse feels. If you horse is heading left, hard and fast, and you look right, your body is preparing to go right, while your horse is going left. See where this is headed? X marks the spot.
I’ve seen dozens of folks come off, and darn near every single one of them first looked right where they landed. I’ve seen dozens of folks successfully ride through a wreck and darn near every single one of them first looked back down at their horse’s withers and stayed in the saddle. This is why most equine professionals will agree that the majority of people who come off of a horse aren’t bucked off, as they invariably claim. Those people bailed off. They picked a spot and went to it. Don’t do this. It is extremely difficult to make a safe landing when you bail. Conversely, it is fairly unlikely that you will be hurt as long as you can stay on the horse.
I believe I can fly…

Thirdly, DO NOT LEAN FORWARD. A horse has a tendency to stop hard, using your forward momentum to rid himself of you. As a result, most people who do legitimately get bucked off go forward over one shoulder or the other. So, make sure you are prepared for this. When things get scary, lean backward. It doesn’t have to be to an extreme, but be dadgum sure that you aren’t on or in front of a vertical line drawn perpendicular to the ground. Keep your eyes on the withers and neck, but keep your weight back.
As someone who has had God Only Knows how many wrecks, I certainly advise you to ride through them as long as you possibly can. I’ve ridden wrecks through hot wires, across ditches, and even through a 5 strand barbed wire fence once. In my scarred, tattered, and bruised up opinion, avoid the ground at almost all costs. Ride the wreck as far and as long as you possibly can, all the while trying to shut it down. You are unlikely to get hurt as long as you stay in the saddle. You‘ll be amazed at the things that you would never have thought you could handle until you do and realize that it really wasn’t that bad. Stay on the horse as long as you can.
says it all…

The ONLY time that I bale on purpose is if I am pretty sure the horse is going to the ground. If one is rearing and goes past the tipping point, trust me, you don’t want one on top of you. Sometimes a horse will trip, if this happens, for goodness sake, pitch them some slack and let them work it out. If they can’t get up and you know y’all are going down, then by all means, bail. Other than that, look down at the horse, not to the side at the ground, lean back a little, and stick with it as long as you possibly can. You and your horse will fair far better.

Last edited by SouthernTrails; 03-24-2014 at 06:56 PM.
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post #2 of 11 Old 03-24-2014, 05:24 PM
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The first time I came off was a few months into riding. My horse had bolted, was still scared, and I tried to dismount without first getting her to think about me. Halfway thru the dismount, with my right foot above her rump, she exploded and I took off like I was attached to a rocket.

When I talked to more experienced folks later, they recommended (for southern Arizona) that I focus on staying on unless she was about to cross a busy highway or go off a cliff. They said I could get hurt either way, but I was more likely to get hurt bad by jumping off a horse - particularly in our desert here - than by trying to stay on. And of course, don't try to dismount a scared horse who has forgotten you exist - get her back with you first or stay on!

My second time was a bail off a stopped horse, after the saddle slipped 90 deg. She was stopped, there was bare (no rocks) dirt next to me, and if she panicked and went running I could come off on to who knows what at 30 mph instead of plain hard dirt at 0 I bailed.

During the 5 years in between, I stayed on a number of times against my expectations. I hadn't heard the advice to look where you plan for your body to go, but it makes a lot of sense. I've also come to realize that even my klutz of a mare is more agile than I really believe.

Thanks for the article.
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post #3 of 11 Old 03-24-2014, 06:03 PM
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So so so true. This is the first thing I get told every time my trainer sees me. "Don't look at the ground or you're gonna end up there"

One thing she told me that has always stuck with me is as long as you're sitting square and balanced over the horse's centre of gravity you're not going to come off it (unless the horse goes down, or over backwards like you said in your blog).

There are always going to be accidents and unexpected events but there's a reason you get taught equitation
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post #4 of 11 Old 03-24-2014, 06:06 PM
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Makes sense to me. The article made me think about the first time I got bucked off. It happened in the round pen and I never saw it coming. The horse suddenly threw several hard bucks and I felt myself being propelled out of the saddle. I really don't know where I was looking at the time, but probably at the fence (because I did not want to end up slamming into it, and luckily didn't) or at the ground. Sure enough, I hit the ground.

The second time a horse decided to buck (different horse), I actually looked at the withers and leaned back a bit. I think I also grabbed the cantle with my right hand to pull myself back into the saddle. I was able to sit through a few fairly strong bucks and stayed on the horse - and he decided to give up and play nice .. felt pretty good !
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post #5 of 11 Old 03-24-2014, 07:26 PM
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I agree Daniel.
That was how I was taught to ride colts and wrecks. Look in the middle, rope up and sit deep on your pockets and depending un the situation I will try to drive them through it or pull the head around to shut it down. But hopefully I have shut it down before the wreck started.
I am no bronc rider but I will dang sure hang on to avoid hitting the ground. I have never consciously checked out but the times I have been bucked down and shouldn't have, it was because I looked down at the ground. However this last Fall I had a good wreck and don't remember looking at the ground but I **** sure hit it hard. Maybe I am getting old and slow but I haven't been bucked down that fast and hard in a long time. (jumped a ditch, hit, sucked backed, tore the bridle off). That I don't like riding junk ;)
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post #6 of 11 Old 03-25-2014, 08:31 AM
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My first little pony taught me how to sit a buck and ride a pony out of one - I suppose he might not have been considered ideal by many parents but he was an elderly retired pit pony and once he knew he couldn't tip his rider off he stopped trying. I think he just had an odd sense of humor.
I've seen lots of riders over the years get bucked off, reared off or run off with and in a lot of the incidents the rider just froze and did nothing at all to try to stop what was happening.
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post #7 of 11 Old 03-28-2014, 07:25 AM
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Excellent article and so very true!

The only time I will bail os if a horse rears and is going to go over or, in a highly dangerous situation.

I try to stick there for however long it takes!

A friend dismounted to open and close a heavy gate with a busted hinge when we were out riding. She had her arm through the reins to use both hands on the gate. For some reason her horse suddenly took off and she let him go before she even realised what he had done.
The horse I was on, a remedial TB that had a reputation for bucking off most riders as well as many other problems, just started to rear! I booted him forward and he proceeded to follow the loose horse but bucking like stink. I just shoved my feet forward leaned back and tried to keep his head up. We did half a lap of the field, horses in the surrounding fields were joining in. Both stopped at the next gate we were going through. My friend was astounded that I had stayed there (so was I as it had been many years since I had ridden a real bucker.)

Funny thing was, after that, the remedial never really tried anything on again.
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Last edited by Foxhunter; 03-28-2014 at 11:49 AM. Reason: Spelling
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post #8 of 11 Old 03-29-2014, 08:44 AM
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I was always told the safeiest place is on top
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post #9 of 11 Old 03-29-2014, 11:46 AM
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Great article!

I never understood the logic of bailing on purpose (although a lot of what you talked about was sort of unintentionally on purpose) because I HATE to hit the ground. Plus, there never seems to be that much time to think when the unthinkable happens. So I pretty much try to hang on and ride it out at all costs.

The exception being a mare I bought one time that would rear. She reared one too many times and the last time she reared with me I bailed. She probably wasn't high enough to go over, but for me it was the last straw. I bailed off her as she was going up and never rode her again.

But yeah, a horse has to buck hard or spin out from under me or completely fall with me to get me off. I detest hitting the ground because it hurts.
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post #10 of 11 Old 03-29-2014, 01:08 PM
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Fab article! I particularly liked the pictures ;) I'm sure we've all been there before.

Many solid points were made, and I totally agree. I too heard the mantra about not looking down, or that's where you will end up.
Thanks for a great read!
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