bucking at a gallop - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 08-26-2009, 06:39 AM Thread Starter
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bucking at a gallop

I have been riding about 1 1/2 years and have just got up the nerve to gallop on flat ground on my 16 yr. old horse. But after about two nice strides he started bucking! Why? and how do I correct this? I don't think it has anything to do with the tack because he will buck when I make him run in the arena with no tack on at all. Does he just get too excited when he runs? What can I do?
Thanks for any thoughts.
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post #2 of 16 Old 08-26-2009, 07:13 AM
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There are a lot of reasons why the horse will buck. He could be excited, could be sore, could be concerned about the thing on his back (you) unbalancing him when you gallop. If he's 16 he should be well schooled enough to deal with that but hard to know that without knowing him.

In any case, I have had horses who did in fact buck out of excitement when you galloped them. Especially when I first started galloping them under saddle. My 16 year old still attempts it if we have been inside all winter and then go out for our first gallop in the field of the spring. Bucking is a form of the horse not going forward so an effective way to stop it is to put a ton of leg on when the horse tries to buck and drive him forward. You need a pretty good seat to be able to do this on a bucking horse. I've also taught horses to disengage the hindquarters when you pull their to the side. Obviously this is something that has to be taught slowly, from a walk in a calm situation, but once they know it you have handy emergency brakes. They have to be straight to buck and if they are bending their bodies around, they can't buck. The caveat with his is that you want to be sure the footing is ok and you have a fairly well-balanced horse who isn't going to fall over when you bring his head around at speed.
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post #3 of 16 Old 08-26-2009, 07:18 AM
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my boy is 19 and he would do that too when he didn't want to gallop. It's never a big buck, just putting his head down and I can feel a couple small bucks in between gallops. I would usually stop him, make him walk in a few circles, then start again. I think it is more of a stubborness on my horse's part, but it's hard to tell with different horses. It could be many things. If it isn't the tack then just keep working at it. Eventually he will learn that bucking doesn't get him anywhere. good luck!
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post #4 of 16 Old 08-26-2009, 08:18 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the ideas. Is there anything I can do from the ground to correct this? Like I said, this is the first I've really tried galloping on flat ground...before this, I would only let him run up a hill, and some times he would buck doing that. Could it be partly because this is something he hasn't done under saddle for so long (because of me)he's "forgotten" how to behave, or is he saying "woopee!! Finally we get to run!"
I was able to hold on all four times he did it yesterday, but I'm 57 and not too keen on getting bucked off at that speed! When he starts bucking it isn't just small bucks, he's GOING FOR IT!!! Would like to get this corrected right away if possible!
He is a good horse (he's a TWH) with lots of experience and has taught me alot in the last year and a half. He's at a boarding facility and I try to get out to see him every day, although, I only get time to ride about twice a week.
What is the right way to sit when galloping and what exactly do you mean by "giving him a ton of leg"?
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post #5 of 16 Old 08-26-2009, 09:38 AM
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Wow - what a question and from a lady of mature years.

Are your riding Western or English?
Are you riding with contact or on a loose rein?.
What's the surface?
What's on the horizon?
Are you alone or in company?
Is it always in the same spot?
How fit is the horse?
How well does the horse know you?
What do you feed this creature?
So many variables. So many answers.

Galloping is very very intoxicating for a horse, especially one which has not been allowed to gallop much in the past. Few riders are taught to gallop - it just happens.

As the other lady said, bucking is mostly a sign of exhuberance - you'll notice an unsaddled horse being turned out into the paddock will often gallop off and buck in the process. It is all a delight to him. He's happy to be alive.

In your shoes, I'd call up a local Thorobred racing stable and ask them for comment and advice. But for sure any tuition won't come out of handling on the ground. I suspect you are going to have to learn to sit the bucks - but obviously you can already. What a great way to go.

As for style - when I go down to Spain for gallops on the beach on an Andalucian horse, I always get up off the "English" cut saddle with weight in the stirrups, feet firmly pushed home into the stirrup irons. I lean forwards with my knees locked into the knee rolls, with balance up over the centre of gravity of the horse, and let the horse go. It is obligatory to call out "Geronimo -o-o-o!" I always maintain two handed contact with the mouth - just to steer. However my Spanish companion sits bolt upright on a SPanish saddle (a touch Western style) and sit in. But I mostly win the race. I always make sure there is enough room to stop.

Big problem on the beach is to make sure noone is flying kites or playing ball with the dogs. Style goes out of the window. But there again I am a bit older than you.

In truth - noone from this distance can help you. We just read your post with delight. Enjoy!

Barry G

PS You might think of buying a one of those safety riding vests - the ones with the pads around the shoulders and the lower back over the sacrum. I assume you already wear a pukka riding hat.
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post #6 of 16 Old 08-26-2009, 09:55 AM
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I agree with what Barry said.

I gallop in half-seat, two-point, jumping position, whatever you want to call it (varies by riding discipline and part of the world you live in). There is a reason why eventers and racing jockeys ride in this position. You have far more stability and control than you would sitting up in the saddle. You also are in a better position to follow the horse in your arms and body, because of the way his body moves when he flattens out for the gallop. I also find I can prevent some bucks, as I have pretty good leverage from this position and can make it difficult for the horse to put its head down. If you don't really know how to ride in two-point solidly, take lessons. There is no good way to explain this on the internet.

When I say put leg on I mean squeeze the horse with your calves. Or even thump your leg against him. "Giving him a ton of leg" means squeeze him hard. I'm presuming that at 16 he knows leg on means go forward and lots of leg means go forward NOW. Again, it's best to work with a trainer on these things as there is only so much random strangers on the internet can do, without knowing you or the horse.
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post #7 of 16 Old 08-26-2009, 11:18 AM Thread Starter
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That's the problem! I don't say Geronimo-o-o-o!! I'll try that!!
I ride western
When I gallop I usually give him his head---reaching forward with one hand ...hang on to the saddle horn with the other!!
Surface is grass, dirt & rocks, we're in the woods on a trail
What's on the horizon? Trees, trees & more trees
I usually go ride with another woman
Not usually in the same spot, there is 1000's of acres to ride on
Cody's a good weight, but I can't say he's real "fit"
He knows me VERY well. We spend alot of time together both in the saddle and off..he's my best friend
I feed him a senior feed, hay and grass...and a few carrots, apples, etc.

I really appreciate your suggestions and will try them. If you think of anything else, please let me know...I have lots to learn!
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post #8 of 16 Old 08-26-2009, 11:54 AM
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I could not resist. Back in poems on the forum you'll find a long story entitled:
"THE GALLOP - an Englishman on holiday".
I wrote this article a couple of years ago after a fabulous riding holiday down by Cape Gibraltar in Southern Spain. It describes how I rode that fabulous horse that day. Please be aware that my system of galloping may not be found in any riding text book but there again as I said earlier - they don't write about how to gallop these days.

One thing I must add - it has been a long time since I galloped flat out on a Western saddle - my rides in Spain were on an Andalucian horse (very special) and an English cut General Purpose saddle - no horn.
(look up LOS ALAMOS RIDING CENTRE Barbate Spain on Google)

The bucking - well it sounds as though it is exhuberance doesn't it. I suspect it is already a habit but if you are ready for it then hopefully you'll continue to manage. It might be worth asking a professional race horse trainer though.

We are giving you advice, from thousands of miles away, as to how we might gallop. Do be careful - a fit 16 yo can gallop for over a mile - say 2-3 minutes. Make sure there is nothing in the way, nothing to stumble over and plenty of room to stop.

The big risk is always that the horse stumbles or falls - you really ought to do it only on flat grass or on a beach of hard sand with no rocks or stones. And never do it on your own.

Barry G
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post #9 of 16 Old 08-26-2009, 12:13 PM
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Is your seat solid while you are galloping? In a western saddle, I like to sit slightly in front of the verticle, heels down, and allowing him his head. Move with his body. It is very possible that if he is not used to having a rider on him while galloping, that is the cause for the bucks. It's hard to say without seeing it though
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post #10 of 16 Old 08-26-2009, 01:06 PM
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I'd Say Hes Jst Happy 2 Be Goin Faster Than A Canter! My Horse Gets Lyk That When He Goes 4 A Gallop! Lets Out A Buck Jst Of Happiness!
If Your Horses Ears Are Pricked 4ward Id Say Its Jst Happiness.
If There Pricked Back Maybe The Tacks Hurting Him.

a silent night,wen friends are few,I close my eyes nd tink of u.A silent night,a silent tear,a silent wish dat u wer here♥ Is maith liom cąca milis:) lol
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