Problem with Bucking Horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 01-06-2011, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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Problem with Bucking Horse

I bought my horse 8 months ago from a lady who let him roam around 2 acres of pasture. He was unhandled for many years and was currently living by himself in the field. She said he was her daughter's horse, but that the daughter went away to college. He does have a lip tatoo, and I looked him up. He came from the track, but never raced. I'm not sure if that plays into what he knows or not.

I've been having problems with him. At first he did little more than halter and lead. Now he'll stand, tie, walk, halter, clip, lung, etc. He is excellent on the ground, is respectful, and doesn't give me any problems. He accepts the bit very nicely and has a high quality HDR saddle that I bought just this week and has been checked. It fits him just fine. The vet also gave him a bill of health.

However, every time I get on him, he doesn't respond to me at all. In fact, sometimes when I give him the aids to go left, he'll turn right. With great effort I can get him to stop, but thats about it. I've tried teaching him these commands on the ground, and he listens. He'll turn when I pull the reins or push on his sides. He's very smart and I have no doubt he understands what I'm asking. But he's quite stubborn. He'll disobey what I'm asking and if i apply the slightest pressure with my legs and heels, he'll buck. At this point I'm starting to become afraid of him when I'm on him. But on the ground he's still an angel.

I can't really afford to hire a professonal trainer, so I joined on here to see if anyone can give me training tips. I've been riding for 12 years, but this is my first attempt at actually re-training a horse. I am hoping to eventually train him in jumping, as the lady I got him from said [along with many other things] that he was jumping at one point with the daughter. I'm not sure I believe that. I love him to deaht, but I greatly miss riding. Please help me! What can I do so that he'll listen to me in the saddle?
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post #2 of 16 Old 01-06-2011, 05:58 PM
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I don't know how this compares but I'm teaching my horse to do the spanish walk. She knows how to strike out hoof on the ground. So the next step would be to get her to move forward while doing it. One way to teach her this is getting on her and squeezing her forward while giving her the cue I taught her on ground. So I tried that. It didn't work. She didn't seem to understand the cues I had taught her on ground while I was in the saddle. So we ended up both getting frustrated.

So I had my friend give her the cue on the ground when she didn't respond to my cue under the saddle. I think the cue felt different to her because I was on her back and tapping her in a different place than when I was on the ground.

I hope that helps, : /
Sounds like your horse is just unsure of what to do or testing you.

Ohh I'd like to ad that I've heard a trainer say to make the right thing easy and the wrong things hard. So maybe if he turns the opposite direction than what you asked him make him work harder. Move his feet. If he turns the right way or does the right thing automatically realese teh pressure and move on

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Last edited by ShutUpJoe; 01-06-2011 at 06:01 PM.
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post #3 of 16 Old 01-07-2011, 01:06 AM
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I have never done it but I have seen people ground drive in training and I think it is very valuable training. YOu might looke into doing that with him. You'd have to get a dvd and study it (there are some safety issues to be aware of, so don't just wing it) and you might have to buy a surcingle and long lines, or can make one yourself. That might be a really good thing to try.

Also, you might try doing round pen work with him so that he knows that pressure on means go forward. Pressure is pressure, if you have him attentively moving forward when you ask him to do so, he will be more attentive to you asking him to go forward when you are on his back.

Be sure that you are completely committed to moving forward when you ask him to do so. If you are hesitant, and it sounds that you are becoming more so this way as fear creeps in, he will pick up on your intention, or lack thereof.
If he cannot move forward, break him out of the "ice" by having him turn. I wouldn't got into backing because if he is stuck, and he feels he cannot go forward, and you pull him back, he may go UP!

I think he is kind of stuck mentally and needs to be broken out of that stuck place by round penning or even lunging on a line (though it doesn't allow the horse to work through stuck places as well).

Any of that sound like it might work for you?
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post #4 of 16 Old 01-07-2011, 02:01 AM
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I think it is possible that the former owners are lying. I would judge the horse from what you see, and not what they tell you, unless it is something health related and then I would at least hear them out.

Sounds to me like you have a completely green horse who needs to learn how to do everything under saddle. This is not the end of the world if you have the confidence, skills and time to do it.
I know that this will feel like a kick in the gut, and I don't mean it to, but if you don't have those three things and you cannot afford a trainer, you might want to consider moving him along to someone who can do this. It is kinder for the horse and you. I had to do this with my last mare, she was more work than I had time for.

I believe, others might correct me, but if he is tattooed then he raced, at least once. Even if not, he was certainly trained to race. Every single thing you are trying to do with him under saddle is brand new news to him, in my opinion. From the saddle, to the weight of the rider (no offense meant at all, jockeys are not human with their weight, I am skinny as all heck and I still probably weigh at least 1.5 times them).

My personal belief is that it is not that he is not listening to you, but he does not understand what you are asking. With the ground work, he has done similar things, when riding it is completely different from what he is used to, so he has no clue that pulling on the bit means slow, he just wants to run from it as that is what he was trained to do.

As he is so good on the ground, I would also venture to suggest that he is trying to be a good boy under saddle, and he is doing what he was taught and simply does not understand what you are asking.

Long lining is a good tool as Tiny suggests. A surcingle is nice but not needed, but you do have to teach the horse to get used to having the lines behind his legs, and you need to be careful when you do this. My guy took a bad bite to the back in the saddle area, so I long lined him for about 4-5 weeks while that healed, I certainly became fitter myself, which sucked, but it was good for the horse.
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post #5 of 16 Old 01-07-2011, 02:23 AM
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There are some good youtube videos by good trainers on how to deal with a bucker: Ryan Gingrich has one that I'd say is for a horse who's not afraid but just wants to get you off, & there's a "natural" one, which talks about bucking out of anxiety, which says to stop the horse before he bucks, to reward him, then build from there, then another which shows the one-rein stop used every time the horse tries it.

You must be able to tell if the horse is anxious or whether he's just shirking being ridden, I'd say.

Have a look on youtube!
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post #6 of 16 Old 01-07-2011, 03:47 AM
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When you long line without a surcingle do you just have long reins attached directly to a regular bit? And do you walk behind the horse or do you stand on it's side and have one rein going behind his hocks and around to the off side while the other rein goes straight to the inside bit? I am trying to imagine how it works. I'd lke to try is someday.

As for bucking, I feel for the OP. I was bucked off three weeks ago; the first time in years!
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post #7 of 16 Old 01-07-2011, 10:06 AM
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Yeah, that's the tough situation for you. My suggestion still would be to get a trainer to be safe, but I know for sure what means "can't afford".

Have you tried to lunge him with the saddle and bridle on? May be that would be a good start. Lunging and teaching voice commands. Just back up and consider him to be completely untrained. You do have to go in little steps.

Personally I'd lunge for week, than lunge in beginning and get on and work on walk/turn/bend. When you get all this straighten out (he listens to you on walk and can walk faster/slower on cue) --> trot. Etc. I'm sure trainers get it all done much faster (like addressing bucking in 1st place), but given you are not a trainer and you don't feel very secure (from how it sounds) and may hurt yourself if he'll buck you off, I'd just go very slowly.
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post #8 of 16 Old 01-07-2011, 10:31 AM
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I think the bucking and the turning may be seperate issues, others have given you great advice for the turning but I have some questions in relation to the bucking:

I see that he was turned out for years and you have had him for eight months, what have you been doing with him for the last eight months? I only ask because if you haven't been riding him then he hasn't been ridden for a very long time. This is relevant as the muscles in his back will be weak and underdeveloped, you will need to build them up slowly so he can support the saddle and your weight.

In addition to what others have said I would really work with him on the lunge, both saddled and unsaddled - get those muscles moving! Introduce work under saddle slowly and monitor his muscles before and after each ride to see if he has any sore spots or stiffness - he almost certainly will! Just like a human who returns to the gym for the first time in a long time (like me if I ever went back ) it is best to make the progress slow and steady.

Personally, when I take a horse off the track I have their teeth done, a general vet check and an appointment with a good chiropractor as they invariably need all three. Particularly the horses that have been turned out to pasture and left for a few years! Once all pain/soundness issues have been addressed I start with light work and monitor progress. If the horse is sound, has no pain issues and is still bucking, that is when the really hard work starts

For now, I would make sure that his back is going to stand up to being brought back into work. Good luck!

ETA: If he has a lip tattoo, as Alex mentioned, he has at least been to the track once. So he is at least 'race broke'.

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Last edited by sarahver; 01-07-2011 at 10:33 AM.
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post #9 of 16 Old 01-07-2011, 06:11 PM
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I have to preface this by saying I am NOT a trainer, and know very little about training. I also think you're getting very good advise from the other posters, especially regarding making sure his physical fitness level can tolerate riding. More groundwork may be in order before you try more riding to build up the muscles.

But I would suggest lunging him under saddle, both without a rider and with. I'm thinking coupling the groundwork he seems to understand with hand and leg aids of a rider he doesn't seem to understand would be helpful.

And always, always, always make sure you make him do what you want. If you want to turn left, commit mentally, ask him for it, then make sure he does it. He cannot learn that he can just decide to do what he wants to do.
"Make the right thing easy & the wrong thing hard".
Keep us updated on his progress!
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post #10 of 16 Old 01-08-2011, 01:39 PM
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one thing that i found sometimes helps with bucking is warn up raw eggs, get a friend to hold some for you take one get on your horse and when he buck break it over his head, he will think that he hit his head and its bleeding and will hopefully learn to stop bucking cuse he thinks he is hurting him slef, this is kinda messy but may as well give it a try i think :)
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