What do you do with an aggressive bucker/rearer?
 
 

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What do you do with an aggressive bucker/rearer?

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  • What to do with a bucker horse

 
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    05-29-2010, 05:10 PM
  #1
Weanling
What do you do with an aggressive bucker/rearer?

This is an odd question.

I've got a horse that has had a pretty large attitude change. Some background:

1. Nothing spooks this horse. At all. She's fiercely confident.

2. I had this horse working nicely undersaddle, just the basics, lots of walk and bending with a little trotting, about a year ago. She was very willing and easy to start.

3. My job got crazy, I was working 50-60 hours a week. Horse went on the backburner, and went out to pasture from late summer until a few months ago. My job cut my hours, so I've got some free time. Started working with horse again, and she's completely different.



Now:

Horse has lost many of her manners, which I kind of expected. She stands just fine in the crossties still, she clips, etc etc etc. She's great until it comes to saddling. I'm using the same saddle and tack as when I started her last time. Now she is very girthy in the crossties when I'm saddling her, she even reared in the ties once after I started gently tightening the girth. Once I get it in place, she walks out to the arena fine. She lunges alright, she still listens to all of my cues and she'll transition when I ask her like always, but now she rears and bucks all the time on the lunge. The rear and spin maneuver and everything. She does it so fast, it is hard to catch it before it is too late. So much for horses not being able to rear while moving forwards.

We have had several "come to jesus" meetings. She is just so.... indifferent to discipline.

Undersaddle it is weird. She has never actually bucked or reared under saddle, but she is just so bizarre. It takes her 10-15 minutes to settle in enough where I'll trust her to walk forwards without trying to kill me. She clearly is considering bucking or rearing, she jigs, ears pinned, she is very ANGRY that I'm on her back. But it's odd, eventually she'll settle down and be the same horse I worked with last year. Not always though. Sometimes she'll never get out of the angry stage. Sometimes she stops being angry, but she'll plant her feet and not even a person on the ground with a lunge whip or dressage whip can get her feet moving, other times she walks off fine.

She's very unpredictable and I'm kind of at a loss. I've never worked with a horse like her before, every other horse I've started is straight up black or white-- willing and easy, or aggressive and unwilling. This horse has so much gray area, it is nuts. She is pretty unpredictable, and I don't know how to proceed.

She's been checked out by a vet, no pain issues. Her feed hasn't changed in 2 years, her saddle fits perfectly, her teeth have been floated recently... I'm just lost.

What would you do with a horse like this? I want to send her to a fabulous trainer in the area, but I don't have the funds. I know I can do it myself, but I'm so out of riding shape, and I know if she did anything stupid I'd probably be in the dirt.

I appreciate any comments.
     
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    05-29-2010, 05:34 PM
  #2
Foal
From what you say it sounds like she would rather be on welfare sucking Dr Peppers and watching Captain Kangaroo in the AC on the couch.

Discipline doesn't usually do much to change their minds about work. The only thing that does is "work"! Consistant wet saddle blanket work--every day.

She can choose to be a idiot but the only thing that gets her is more work!!

When she acts right and does what you ask then its a light day of work. When she doesn't, well lets just say that she will not be running and playin with her friends that nite.

Sooner or later she will decide for herself that work is work and its easier for her to get it done than to act like an idiot.

If you are afraid, even a little bit, then work her on the ground until she gets the picture. Remember that she is probably out of shape so you will have to keep upping the level of work as she gets fit to make the point.

Could take a day, could take a month. Approach it like you have a month and it will probably take a week. Approach it like "today is the day my little fireball" then it will probably take a month.
     
    05-29-2010, 05:36 PM
  #3
Trained
I certainly wouldn't let her do anything on the lunge that you don't want when you ride her. Slow down and work for a while at a walk. Get her hind and front quarters seperated and yielding to very little pressure. Work on getting her to lower her head and break at the poll while on the ground and in the saddle. Get him flexing her head to the right and left easily as well. The key is to keep her bent and keep her soft. A horse can't rear while moving forward but it doesn't take long for them to brace thier feet and rear. A better tactic to prevent rearing is to get the horse to bend and move her feet. She most likely wants to rear or buck because she thinks she can't move her feet for whatever reason. Be carefull with the come to Jesus meetings as they probably have more effect on her than you think. She may be a rather stoic horse that doesn't show a lot of bother.
     
    05-29-2010, 06:48 PM
  #4
Trained
Agree with Kevin.

You need to get her more bendy, more soft, and freer through the feet.

Work on disengaging the hips and moving the shoulder, as well as lowering the head and flexing each way on the ground until you have it down pat.

Head down is a great tool - It lowers the horses adrenalin.

Disengaging the hips puts a bend in the spine and makes is physically impossible to rear/buck/bolt whatever.

When you are on her and she suggests she is thinking about doing anything of the above, disengage the hips and let her stand with her head flexed until she relaxes. They can't put their head up with it flexed to the side and the only way they can move is further disengagement of the hips. It becomes your 'safe spot'.
     
    05-29-2010, 11:14 PM
  #5
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by 5cuetrain    
From what you say it sounds like she would rather be on welfare sucking Dr Peppers and watching Captain Kangaroo in the AC on the couch.

Discipline doesn't usually do much to change their minds about work. The only thing that does is "work"! Consistant wet saddle blanket work--every day.

She can choose to be a idiot but the only thing that gets her is more work!!

When she acts right and does what you ask then its a light day of work. When she doesn't, well lets just say that she will not be running and playin with her friends that nite.

Sooner or later she will decide for herself that work is work and its easier for her to get it done than to act like an idiot.

If you are afraid, even a little bit, then work her on the ground until she gets the picture. Remember that she is probably out of shape so you will have to keep upping the level of work as she gets fit to make the point.

Could take a day, could take a month. Approach it like you have a month and it will probably take a week. Approach it like "today is the day my little fireball" then it will probably take a month.
See, the weird @ss part, is that she LIKES to work! Other people from the barn text me telling me that D got mad when they took out their horse and not her for the day. She loves people and she really enjoys working. She's just made a total 180 as far as attitude. I suppose though, if she were a person, she'd be in the teenage years right now, I'm not really surprised at the rebellion.
     
    05-29-2010, 11:32 PM
  #6
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinshorses    
I certainly wouldn't let her do anything on the lunge that you don't want when you ride her. Slow down and work for a while at a walk. Get her hind and front quarters seperated and yielding to very little pressure. Work on getting her to lower her head and break at the poll while on the ground and in the saddle. Get him flexing her head to the right and left easily as well. The key is to keep her bent and keep her soft. A horse can't rear while moving forward but it doesn't take long for them to brace thier feet and rear. A better tactic to prevent rearing is to get the horse to bend and move her feet. She most likely wants to rear or buck because she thinks she can't move her feet for whatever reason. Be carefull with the come to Jesus meetings as they probably have more effect on her than you think. She may be a rather stoic horse that doesn't show a lot of bother.

I hear you about the lunging-- I really keep her moving and when she does go up to rear I really pop her with the line, I do lunge with a chain over lately and she has been going up much less frequently.

As for the bending-- she's fabulous at bending, and she doesn't brace when she's bending. She's extremely soft mouthed and light sided (except when she's stuck). When I first started her she'd back and turn with the lightest pressure in combination with leg pressure. She'll break at the poll undersaddle and on the ground.

I think you are right, I think the biggest problem here is that she gets "stuck" and can't seem to move. Once she settles and is happy undersaddle, she wanders around, I'm comfortable riding her from the arena to the barn, she's very mellow and doesn't bat an eye at anything. She'll walk through water, over bridges, through brush, anything. It's when she's stuck that she's angry, and she plants her feet and is extremely pissy.

I had a girl come out and work with her a few times when I was working so much. I met her out there, and we worked with her. The girl rode (very solid dressage seat) and really tested D. She was so pissy for most of it. She planted her feet and wouldn't move, even with me leading and turning her from the ground. We tried lunging her while the girl was in the saddle, and she just wouldn't move her feet. Eventually I brought the girl a crop, and just a few taps with that and she magically understood that she was to go forwards, although she knew the whole time.

One day she'll be pleasant and will get over her initial pissed-offedness, and other days she won't at all.
     
    05-30-2010, 03:13 AM
  #7
Trained
Can you get her out of the arena and just do some trails with her? Get her out in the open (make sure someone comes with you or knows where you are!), let your reins out long and just go back to basics. Go, stop and turn. Don't give her the opportunity to get stuck ;) Let her enjoy the ride, and forget that you're asking her to do things. You can start some leg yield on the trails and the horse doesn't associate it with training, but once you get back to the arena they'll remember the work and respond.

I think this horse just needs some 'fun time' for a little while. She sounds frustrated. Kevin is right about not letting her get away with anything on the lunge, often their behaviour on the lunge will move into under saddle work (I know one exception to this though, little WB mare that goes absolutely bunta on the lunge, but get on her and she has never put a buck in in her her!). Try lunging with a bridle and roller on her. Run your lunge rein through the bit and clip onto the roller so it's like a running inside rein. Start your lunging, making sure you stay a little towards her hindquarters while lunging to enhance the forward cue. As soon as she goes to rear, take the inside rein and give it a pull. Because it is running through the bit, you're not going to hit her in the mouth, but instead you will pull her head/neck around to her girth. This will make it extremely difficult for her to rear, and she'll have the choice to either keep moving calmly or to pull herself over sideways. Most horses are intelligent enough to keep moving!

But back to my original statement, I really think you should try and get her out. Get her moving freely, without resistance off the leg and happily coming back to your rein. Go out, have some fun then slowly start to add the arena work once or twice a week until she's happier to do so.
     
    05-30-2010, 08:45 AM
  #8
Weanling
I would tend to think that the friend may have brought out a defensive pattern (sticking). Once you see a horse that sticks, you can just about promise that they will buck or rear (when the energy gets stuck, it only has one way to go, up). The mare got results with this and is still trying it.

I also work this through first on the lunge line, mostly for the sake of my own body. You need to teach her how to deal with her problems. We don't do this by stopping the behavior, since "stopping" is exactly what she wants. We do this by doing the opposite, make her run for dear life. When she starts bucking on the line, keep a lunge whip in hand and continually pop it behind her, let her buck to her hearts content and make her do more, make her move forward until she is doing it happily. If she rears and spins to go the other way, lower your body to the ground and anchor yourself down so that the first thing she hits is your pressure. This should get her attention enough to look at you, which gives you the opportunity to get around that shoulder and make her go the same direction she was before. You have to make it more uncomfortable for her to have her way.

Listen to her, it doesn't mean she is right, but it does mean that there is something that you need to look for. She tells you when you cinch her that something isn't right. Stand next to her and pull the cinch up against her belly, keep it there until she begins to relax, and then let you hand fall a couple inches, keep going through the motion until she is over it, then proceed to the next step.

Next, we are basically going to take out the "fight" instincts by putting in some "flight". Honestly, a lot of times when horses are worked frequently on sideways, they tend to lose some forward. Put the forward back. As long as she has her ears pinned, bucking or rearing, keep telling her to move forward, keep pushing her through it until she finds a nice even gait with a good willing expression. Then let her stop and do it all over again. Do this both directions until she is easily making upward and downward transitions (don't be too surprised if she starts taking off like a madwoman when you first ask for this, extreme fight behaviors are normally accompanied by extreme flight). You will be able to notice when her attitude has changed. You are seeing all the signs of her insecurities, but still progressing, so its no surprise that she is being witchy undersaddle. And you are right, there may be no reason for this behavior other than the fact that she has not yet developed a work ethic.
     

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