Spooky young horse - has bucked me off twice now
So at the moment I have a 7 year old horse on trial from a guy at work. I initially posted a question regarding this horses rear right leg which is quite pigeon toed but does not seem to affect him at all. Had issues loading photos of his leg so gave up on that one and decided I would just get a vet check if I decided to buy him. My problem now is that I have had him for about 3 weeks and have bonded with him a lot but he is young and rather spooky. Not a lot is known about his past as his current owner was landed with him over the winter about 6 months ago due to lack of grazing and the previous owner didnt want him back when spring came. He has been quiet as a lamb on the treks I have done with his new owner and gone really well. But over the last week he has bucked me off twice when riding with my neighbour. I wasnt hurt apart from bumps and bruises and it hasnt stopped me from getting back on him. To be honest my riding level is probably not up to what he needs at this young age but if I dont take him then his owner is going to send him to the meat works as he has 3 horses and no use for him. I definitely dont want to buy a horse because I feel sorry for it, but its hard once you've become attached! Today I brought a stronger bit and some magnesium as he is on much richer longer grass at my place. The bit definitely helped today as he went to buck and I was able to pull his head around and stop him. Any ideas on work I can do with him to help with the spookiness and ways to assert myself? I am definitely much softer on him than his owner who uses his horses for pig hunting only, no pats - they do their job and thats it. Sorry for the long winded story, I wondered if putting him somewhere with less grass would help? At the moment the grass is up around his knees. Thanks everyone for any helpful info you can offer. Oh yeah, and no idea what set him off the first time but the last buck happened when I was leaving my neighbours to ride home. He wasnt keen to leave and then my neighbour started cantering back up to her yard behind us so he spun around and started bucking, once he got me off he ran up to join her horse so I think was a case of 'I dont want to do what I'm being told'.
Well first off, do NOT EVER get a stronger bit on a green horse! A stronger bit is never the answer.
I would suggest working with your trainer on desensitizing your horse. Show him all the scary objects until he gets used to them.
i agree. and Unfortunetly. Youve now unwittingly taught this horse that all he has to get rid of what he doesnt like..... is buck it off. Almost every green horse I train will go through a series of fits. Depending on the personality of the horse these can be one little buck to whole LOTS of bucks and rears and spins. It is IMPARITIVE IMO that you DO NOT fall off at this time. the horse learns that fighting you and trying to get rid of you will not work... your horse has now learned that this has worked three times.
I wouldnt be riding a green horse out alone, and I would ask my friend not to canter off up the driveway when I am left behind on a green horse.
Honestly. He is what he is; green. You have to ride him as such. Don't put yourself in situations where he is likely to buck , 'cause the more he gets you off, the more he will try it.
I would go back to doing ground work with him to get him more connected with you. Try not to overface him at first so maybe your friend can ride you back to your place and then she/he can go back to her's alone. Work with him in an arena, if you have one.
Thanks for your thoughts. The bit that I was riding him on originally was a very mild snaffle that I had been using on a quiet quarter horse. The bit that I brought today is still a snaffle so in no way harsh but he seems to respond to it better and I dont have to pull on his mouth at all - the two times that he bucked me off there was no way I could have pulled his head up, he was just too strong. Today when he spooked and went to start spinning and bucking I was able to turn him into a tight circle until he calmed down. My neighbour was very apologetic for cantering off and she ended up riding me home that day. I dont have a trainer or an arena but am going to look into getting someone to come out and give us lessons together. I am going to work on doing more ground work with him, today we did some lunging before I rode and then I stayed in my paddock with my partner watching from the fence. Both times I tried my best to stay on and almost managed it the second time but they were pretty big bucks and I went flying even being in a western saddle - I definitely feel more secure riding in a western than an english saddle. I have decided that I will buy him (probably for a little more than the meat works would pay) if only to save him from a sad fate. I'm hoping that with the right help he will settle down otherwise I will look at rehoming him (not to the pet food factory). He was previously used for pig hunting and goes great in the bush, perhaps he has more time to think when in a large space like a paddock. I also wonder if he is used to being ridden by heavier men who probably werent all that gentle, maybe having a smaller female makes it easier for him to play up? I definitely need to work on him knowing that I am boss though. Please only constructive help as I am tied up in knots thinking of him being turned into pet food.
Thanks for your time : )
Agreeing with tinylily; Green is green. Green horses do stupid baby horse stuff. It's a fact of life. And a lesson I have learned a repeated number of times.
If you can, I would watch some colt starting videos to get an idea of the groundwork foundation needed. (I like Chris Cox, Clinton Anderson, and Aaron Ralston) After that he will hopefully have a better foundation.
Then get back on and try these things again. Also, teach ONE REIN STOPS. And I mean, from the ground up! They are an E brake when you need it. Teach the horse to stop on the one rein, then teach them how to disengage the hindquarters. Then everytime he bucks, just pick up the rein and kick his hip around to punish him.
to help with the spooking you could make an obstacle course. and work on ground manners at the same time. tarps, wood, buckets, bags, balloons, etc could all be used to practice on him focusing his mind and attention on you. his mind will be going nuts with all the objects and it will be up to you to get his attention.
but i would not be riding him yet and if i were it would be alone so he wasnt distracted by another horse
A young horse, even if ridden all day, will bust in two when you ride away from other horses. I agree with Tiny that your neighbor should of rode with you home.
He is figuring out that bucking is his way out even if that wasn't his intention to begin with. However I am prone to think he has already learned this previously since no one else wants the horse.
If you don't get someone knowledgeable to help I am afraid this will get worse and you will get hurt. Like everyone else get some help if you decide to keep him. I am glad you already realize that you shouldn't get this horse just because you feel sorry for him.
Best of luck!
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Kait is right, keep his mind busy..if he has to think about obstacles he will be less apt to think about bucking you off. I think because he has managed to get you off a few times concentrate more on ground work and less on riding. Ride him for 20 minutes of a one hour workout. Its important to let him know bucking is out of the question so when you do ride him, if he even shows any sign of wanting to buck, (humping his back etc.) get off and put him to work until he is good and tired. Then get back on, get him to do some walking around quietly and end it. He is going to take longer to get solid because he knows he can dump you. As Tiny said he is green. I think the key here is to put him to work, and I mean hard work, if he even thinks about bucking so he learns to associate the hardest work with the improper behavior. Give him some time and he will come around to your way of thinking just try to avoid his bucking and let him think when you are up there the work is a breeze compared to when you work him for thinking about bucking. Best of luck.
Today I had an equine vet out to look at him so I could discuss his leg with someone experienced and also get his teeth checked. Sadly it is more than just being 'pigeon toed' and is a substantial demormity that causes his hoof to twist inwards from the pastern down. He also has an issue with one of his front knees that is quite stiff. The vet said that he could not recommend this horse to someone in a normal purchase examination but could be fine for hacking a few times a week. He suggested that since I dont want him to end up as pet food that I limit his grass intake and get him on some minerals like salt and magnesium for starters. Then see how much he settles down as he said now is the worst time for bucking issues due to too much grass. He is likely to have problems down the line with arthritis but I can deal with that. I am a bit unsure about how to cut down his grass intake because I can put him somewhere with much less grass but the vet said at this time of year even the short grass causes temperament issues. Our stables arent finished yet and we dont have a yard either so thats out. I put him in a tiny grassed area today before the vet arrived that had been mown right down and gave him a hay net but he wouldnt touch it and still preferred to try and eat what grass there was in there. I am going to offer the owner a couple of hundred for him even though the vet said he is a 'giveaway' horse. The vet said he was also a bit tense in his back which might explain the bucking.
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