Bucking during Barrels, problem!

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Bucking during Barrels, problem!

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  • Horse bucking when asked for speed during barrel run
  • horse bucking at the first barrel

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    07-20-2012, 11:35 AM
Bucking during Barrels, problem!

Story time..
At a show last weekend, he behaved exceptionally well for the pleasure classes. He listened, never offered to do anything bad, and was just a great pony during those classes. We actually won 4 out of 7 of them!
Then it came time for the 'Fun & Games' at the end of the day.
We went in to do our run for barrels. He felt a little excited, but overall I wasn't nervous because he had been so good before.
So first barrel; perfect, but right between the 1st and 2nd barrels, he started bucking like a rodeo horse. He bucked about twice, maybe 3 times, but I rode it out, turned his head around the second barrel, and finished our run. It was SCARY because I thought I was a goner, but I held him back for the rest of the run because I didn't trust him at that moment.
Then we had poles. We knocked a pole, but other than that he was pretty good, excited a little, though.
Then it came time for speed dash (the one barrel in the arena.)
I felt kind of confident, so I let him go full out (which he LOVES).
Got around the barrel and were on our way home, he starts bucking like a rodeo horse again. It felt the same as the first time, but we were going faster so it was scarier/harder to ride out. I didn't fall off, and I 1-rein stopped him and trotted him accross the finish line, but I was really caught off guard.
So I proceeded to the next game. Keyhole. He did is so well, we got 2nd. He was perfect. No buck, just doing his job. Same with Egg & Spoon.. All the rest of the games he was great! But just those 2 classes, and it just happens to be the only 2 that include barrels.
What is it about barrels that he always bucks at? Whenever we practice at home, he's fine. The reason I don't think it's a saddle/pain/injury problem is because he was fine for all the other events, plus my dad and I checked him all over for swelling, or anything abnormal.
Why would he be doing this? It's so weird!
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    07-20-2012, 11:40 AM
If he doesn't do it at home under the same riding speed and conditions then you can probably rule out pain. Are the barrels oin the course different? Height, color, etc. Or maybe he just gets excited during speed trials at shows? Just guessing. Good luck with it. That is a quick way to lose confidence so I hope you get it worked out soon.
    07-20-2012, 11:49 AM
Green Broke
Sounds like a pain issue to me... A horse uses different muscles of their body in those different events, especially the pleasure and running events. There are even quite the differences in running barrels and poles. When running barrels you're asking for more of a full stretch and a higher speed. This uses the full extent of his body and performance ability. It just makes me suspicious that he does fine in the other events but when asked to give it all he gets uncomfortable and starts to buck. Maybe it's time for a vet check?
    07-20-2012, 11:52 AM
Green Broke
How old is he? This sounds like what a friends horse was doing when it started having navicular changes. You may want to have that checked... as well as ringbone. It could explain why some of the Pleasure and other events are fine and yet he bucks with the stress of going full out. It puts more pressure on the joints and bones in the leg and the extra concussion on his feet from going faster may just push him over the edge.
    07-20-2012, 11:54 AM
Green Broke
My lease horse that I rode for 8 years did that as well. Only with barrels but only with a bit. Moved to a hack and no more bucking. He was strictly an english horse but we did the yearly gymkhana for fun. He loved running but for whatever reason would buck like mad if he had a bit in his mouth.
    07-20-2012, 12:47 PM
He's 12 y/o, in good health otherwise. Just had a vet check on the 28th of June (for shots and stuff) and he said he was healthy, but that was before this... I was thinking maybe the rear cinch was too loose and it was flapping around and spooking him? Does that happen?
I can kind of tell when he's in pain, and he didn't seem like it to me. And it was weird because I let him run full out in poles and keyhole, and he didn't buck...
But I could be wrong about the pain! Aaaand now I'm worried... I'm definitely considering another vet check.. but it always pains me to have my parents pay $100 for a check when I'm not all the way sure that he needs it...
My parents seem to think it's behavioural, but they don't know a whole lot about horses. They know a bit, but not a lot about them.
    07-20-2012, 12:53 PM
Originally Posted by Cinnys Whinny    
How old is he? This sounds like what a friends horse was doing when it started having navicular changes. You may want to have that checked... as well as ringbone. It could explain why some of the Pleasure and other events are fine and yet he bucks with the stress of going full out. It puts more pressure on the joints and bones in the leg and the extra concussion on his feet from going faster may just push him over the edge.
That freaks me out.. I really hope he doesn't have Navicular or Ring Bone! I'm a somewhat paranoid horse owner, so I often feel around their pastern area to check if I feel any bumps Not that I would be able to really tell, anyway! Gotta do some thinking to decide whether or not I think I need the vet out... Leaning towards yes now..
    07-20-2012, 01:12 PM
Curious, is he afraid of trash cans? I had a horse that was unafraid of darn near everything - not spooky at all, except trash cans. No matter how I pushed him to listen to me, he would snort and come unglued at them. I'm noticing other rider friends report their horses being spooked by trash cans.

Just find it interesting and wondering aloud. I could be way off base.
    07-20-2012, 01:26 PM
Originally Posted by DoubleS    
Whenever we practice at home, he's fine.
Why would the horse be in pain at a show but not at home? Have you done barrels at home since then? Did he buck?

It sounds like excitement to me. Your body position is most likely different in the saddle during barrels than pleasure.

I had a dog that could go into the conformation ring and never flinch a muscle out of place and compete at the same show in obedience to a score of 199. She was a therapy dog. THe calmest most obedient dog you have ever seen.

BUt OMG. Agility was her achille's heel. She ran around the agility ring like a wild banshee without any control at all. Twice I was asked to leash her and remove her from the ring because she wouldn't listen and was running around the ring at out of control doing obstacles at will.

(On one hand I was very happy and proud. The other hand wanted to kill her)

My 5 yr will buck and act like a wild guy in the field when he is happy and relaxed and fresh. Maybe your horse is just unable to control the excitement at the full blown out excitement of barrels? Especially if you are beyond the intitial training phase and his confidence is up?
    07-20-2012, 01:55 PM
Green Broke
There is a big different in running at home and running at a show. The environment and stress level is completely different and it can completely change the horse's attitude. They also give more at a show performance wise than they would at home..Meaning the horse is probably running harder which can definitely cause pain to flare at a show rather than at home.

OP, have you ever had your horse adjusted? It can do wonders, especially for a horse that age. It just wouldn't hurt to have the vet check and do a lameness exam. There just can be so many things that trigger this behavior that it's best to cover all bases before just saying it's a behavioral or something related to that. A horse can't verbally tell you when something's wrong so they show you, and most of the time when it's pain related the "showing you" is through bucking, rearing, or these type of behaviors. It can't just be ruled out as a horse acting out, especially if the horse is just now developing this problem.

barrels, bucking, excited, poles, show

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