I am stuck at the moment with how to progress with my 12 yr mare. I have finally got her to canter on the lunge, this has been a long process! I have had her assessed by vets, saddle fitters etc and they have found no issues. She has a beautiful, can do nature but as soon as you ask her to canter/lope the head goes down and she starts bucking. I feel that I have addressed all of the physical problems that may be causing this behaviour. Do you try and ride through it? Could it be a learnt behaviour? I will be honest....I bought her knowing that she had this issue 3 yrs ago but hoped that we could sort it out.
I have the time to spend on her and hope that you can help, thank you
You've got her chiropracted? Feet checked and back checked?
When she bucks do you make her stop? Or push her through it? Are her hocks and hips checked?
Does she do it when you're on her back? How do you handle the situation then?
If you have addressed all the physical problems then I would go with learned behavior. I would say your going to have to ride through it, but not just sit there and let her buck she has to understand it is not acceptable. Provided your groundwork is solid and you have control of her feet on the ground, and if your riding her at a walk and trot you have control of her feet at those speeds, start working on the cantor in a round pen. By starting in a round pen you don't have to worry about steering maybe even get someone to drive her forward from the ground so all you have to do is control her head. First get her going and do lots of direction changes at a walk and trot, if your using a helper they would be signaling for the changes while your riding and steering. Do lots of trotting and get her a little winded and make sure she is really paying attention. When your ready for the canter hold you inside rein and ask for the canter, if she goes to bucking pull her head around to your boot yield her hind end with lots of energy then ask again. If she does canter let her go a few strides then bring her back to a trot for a few strides, change direction and get her cantering again, but only a few strides and then another transition/change direction. Get her thinking about what your going to ask for next so she does not have time to think about bucking. You may only three or four strides at a time if she gives them to you then reward her by letting her trot for a bit. Reward her good behavior, and make the wrong behavior equal work. Once you get four consistent strides go for 5 and so on. Eventually you want to work up to cantering on a loose rein in the round pen, when she finally does leave her alone and let her canter a few circles then change directions and to the other way, let her practice.
Once your both comfortable in the round pen then move to a larger space and start at the beginning, lots of changes of direction, only a few strides at a time. Let her feel comfortable in the new space, reward the smallest effort so she understands and finds comfort in what your doing. Only ask for more when she is ready and quiet her before she quiets you.
What diagnostics were used by vet to rule out any physical issues? If nothing much was done, and these would need to be done by equine vet, with equipment such as ultrasound, MRI and the like, you do not know if mare has internal issues or not.
Which, if this has been going on quite a while, would be my guess, there is something wrong inside her.
Could be fecalith, bone spurs....you name it, the list is legion here.
But would also consider horse has learned can do this and get away with it too?
But vet checkup with major diagnostics will give you an idea of what is happening here, could even have testicles for that matter.
If it is not pain or discomfort which should [I]always[I] be ruled out first... perhaps it is the way she is being asked to canter. Just a thought. Maybe try lunging her with a rider and have the person on the ground ask her to canter.
The thoroughbred I ride is very sensitive to leg pressure and if I use to much of it asking for the canter she gets upset. She is much happier with my using my seat and voice to ask for the canter.
I typically just ride through the buck. Give them a good kick and make them run harder if they want to pull that crap with me. Alternatively, in the rare instance I feel I'm going to fall off, I bend them around in a one rein stop and kick the hip to the outside. Takes away their power while simultaneously making them work harder for bucking, which will deter the behavior.
If you really, REALLY think you're coming off - Just jump off and run at him. Scare the crap out of him. Chase him in a circle, run him backwards, disengage his hip, anything. No matter WHAT you do though, do NOT stop, slow down, get off, or do anything that is less work than what you originally asked for when he started bucking. That will just encourage the behavior.
The answer to your question is ” Yes”, bucking can be a learned behavior both on the ground and in the saddle. If a horse learns the rider will stop the pressure before they canter or in the case of riding get off their back when they crow hop or buck then they will do it to get out of working. You essentially train them to buck from poor timing and not pushing them out of the buck & into the canter.
There are many reason for bucking but the following suggestion is based tack issues, fear of a saddle & physical problems being ruled out. The method I describe below is for a horse that bucks out of defiance, to avoid being cantered/ or ridden.
-First the ground work must be perfect, meaning when I give my verbal cue “smooch” to lope/canter off they do it without hesitation in either direction, Fluidly, while carrying a saddle & without bucking. If they don’t do it right on the ground consistently they most likely will not do right in the saddle. It is important that you have a good verbal cue to canter in the beginning so the horse has a command to relate to once you’re on his back. If the horse is hesitant to canter from the ground & you have to put lots of pressure other than the verbal cue to get moving then you need to do more ground work and get it right.
Your statement that getting her to canter has been a long process makes me think you may not have been assertive enough . Over the past 20 years every colt I started cantered the first day from the ground because if they didn’t do it when I ask them nicely then I told them to do it with authority. The horse works for you and you need to be the leader. If you are assertive in the beginning then you can get it done subtly down the road.
-Once the ground work is good I will ride in a controlled area “round pen or arena” were I can canter the horse with no contact on the bridle. The no contact on the mouth or face if very important because if you inhibit forward movement you will not be successful. If the horse starts to bow up, crow hop or buck I put the heat on or have an assistant use a flag to put the pressure on and push them into the canter. In almost every case if my ground work is done correctly in the first stage they seldom buck when I ride them in the canter, but if one would really started bucking hard, then I would pull his head around, but keep him moving and keep the pressure on while disengaging the hind quarters. Once I loosened up his feet I will put him straight back to the canter. There are no rewards for bad behavior! I keep them in a canter until they move fluidly & relaxed in that gait, then I just stop riding and let the horse stop on his own. After a short sulking period I repeat in the opposite direction. I will repeat this for several days or weeks if required until the horse will canter off relaxed with just a squeeze of my legs or verbal cue.
If you are not an experienced & confident rider then you should seek out a trainer and not try this yourself.
Didn't read all of the others, but this is not a real unusual behavior.
Ruling out saddle fit and back pain (which I doubt), it is a 'learned behavior' with a likely 'pay-off' for the horse. I have seen horses learn this in one ride early in their training. The rider asked for a lope, the horse had a hump in its back and the rider pulled the horse up thinking they would ask later when the horse was more 'ready'. A year later, the horse still threatened to buck or humped up to crow-hop and the rider was still pulling the horse up -- the 'pay-off' for the horse is obvious by this time, but still happening.
The same action (pulling the horse up) can result in a horse with an aversion to loping. Those horses trot and trot and trot, faster and faster and refuse to break into a lope no matter what. They need the same 'fix'.
There are a couple of ways to address this.
First -- would be to just force the horse to lope on. Of course, the rider has to be confident enough and able to stay on if the horse actually breaks in two. This is not likely with this rider or the rider would not have been pulling the horse up in the first place.
The next way is to get a very experienced and confident rider to MAKE the horse go on. Like rearing, it is pretty hard for a horse to buck hard when moving forward at a good speed. So, if you can find such a rider and they work the horse hard at a lope for a while, you should be able to get on after them and the horse should lope for you, too, without threatening to buck. Of course, this rider, too, has to be able to ride the horse out if the horse decides to really buck hard.
The way I would really suggest would be to put an 'over-check' on this horse as demonstrated in this previous thread and, with it pretty snug and MAKE the horse lope, After a few strides at a lope, the over-check can be taken off and the horse will have learned that it cannot hump up or drop its head and it will lope on just fine.
Here is a copy of part of an old post where I showed how a little over-check can be simply made. It is very effective and can be taken off as soon as the horse figures out the behavior no longer works. It keeps his head up without pulling him up and stopping forward movement.
If a horse really wants to buck, I run the little nylon cord between the two ropes on a rope halter. That sets it much higher and it becomes an 'over-check'. It is very effective in stopping a horse from dropping its head.
Let me explain this better since you cannot see how the little cord runs. I take a 9 or 10 foot piece of 1/4 inch nylon cord (purchased at Walmart). I tie one end solidly with a bowline knot to the bit on the right side. Then I run it through the top ring of a halter as shown or between the two ropes of a rope halter crown-piece. Then, I run it loosely behind the saddle-horn, run it back through the halter just below the horse's ear and tie it to the left bit ring with another bowline knot.
Then, I take the loose cord behind the saddle-horn, fold it over itself (making sure it is centered and the horse's head is straight in front of him) and drop the double half hitch it made over the horn.
I cannot count how many times this little gizmo has saved my neck. I use it on every green horse when I first ride them off. I usually warm them up a little and then loosen it by taking the half hitch off the horn and just lay the cord loosely behind the horn.
I use one of these adjusted loosely when I ground drive a horse so the it cannot drop its head to avoid the bit. It also keeps a horse from bending its neck vertically in the middle (instead of breaking at the poll) which puts them on their front ends.