Horse bucking, could it be anxiety?
Hi, My horse Phoenix has always bucked, it's his go to move. Over the last year almost i've had him at a barn right next to a trail system and have been taking him out a lot to put miles and experience on him. He's gotten a lot better about being on trail and i've managed to work most of the kinks out of him.
Luckily the few people i ride with on a regular basis know all about Phoenix from what i've told them. He's a good boy who sometimes loses his head. This often results in a good buck or two. I had planned to send him to a local trainer who specializes in training for trail but due to an unfortunate saddle need my trainer cash fund disappeared.
So his jigging= mostly stopped. His reluctance to lead= stopped. Finding a way for my friends to canter on trail that doesn't involve me getting killed= solved! Now my friends canter in front and i keep Phoenix at the trot while keeping up with the slower horse in front. Problem solved. Except for the rare occasion that my friends horse picks up canter when he's more than 2 horse lengths away from Phoenix, then we're dealing with a a meltdown situation.
It happened tonight when we were out. We'd had a little canter/trot and i even managed to get a few good strides of canter out of Phoenix, without cross cantering or bucking (i was giving him a huge pat on the neck for this, it almost never happens). My friends horse who was out in front about 3 horse lengths away picked up canter for some unknown reason and my friend, without thinking, just went with it... cue Phoenix and his little meltdown. Luckily he only got in one small buck and some squealing while i yelled at my friend to stop (also lucky that my friend knows when i yell stop, she has to stop, it doesn't matter what's happening she has to stop). After friends horse stopped moving and turned Phoenix was fine, jigged little but then was completely calm.
I'm not sure how to deal with this particular behaviour. I can only control so much on trail, i can only ask so much of the people i ride with. They know he can be quite an idiot and when i know that a big group wants to go out running i don't take him. But i can't forsee horses in front suddenly breaking into canter, even a little one like my friends horse. I don't know how to train this behaviour out of him; i've managed to stop him bucking when he canters for the most part (not in groups when he gets over excited); but the sneak bucks he sometimes throws in are something completely different. Could this be caused by anxiety at a herd member leaving him? he was with another horse he knows well so he wasn't left alone or anything.
I feel like sometimes my taking him out ruins the ride for everyone else, now i try to avoid the bigger groups because i don't want to ruin everyone elses day as my horse explodes all over the trail.
The horse that my husband rides used to be like that. She still can buck as she goes into a canter. Several things have helped.
First, she has been ridden so much that she is calmer.
Second, we figured out that she had a saddle fit/ pad problem. Pain problems being solved helped.
Another thing is that you can't let her out into a canter on a loose rein. You have to gather her reins in first.
Also if you canter her on the way out she is better than if you are on the way home. She can have a melt down if people canter by her when she is on the way home and almost there.
If we are going slow, she never gives him any trouble. Calm, cool, collected and go anywhere.
What did you do to make it ok ? I mean, how did you train out most of the bucks?
I , too, have this issue with Zulu. If he is not the lead horse, and the group takes off at a canter, he wants to plow through everyone in front, and if you hold him back, he bucks! His buck is not a tiny little hop, either. It feels like an elevator is going up behind you . (he is 17hh and 1400lbs). So, I tend to ask my friends to only trot when they lead, or I lead, but this is just skirting the issue, not dealing with it.
I will be interested in hearing other's advice. Zulu does not buck otherwise and rarely jigs. But, back to your situation . . . .
I rode her hundreds and hundreds of miles over several years. I rode her off by herself a lot of times. I really think that there are people who could help you more than me because it took a long time. I think that keeping her in front is safer than letting her follow. Also, ask people to let you know when they are going to canter so that you can prepare by gathering in your reins and holding on like crazy.
Some of it is just the horse because "The Psycho Princess" that I ride now is much more insane and spooky, yet she transitions fine into a canter.
My horse doesn't buck, but she DOES get extremely jiggy if a horse canters off in front of her. My solution has been to ride in the lead MOST of the time, but when I'm with a group of people who are 'safe' (know me and my horse, and know I can handle it and won't freak out if she has a meltdown) I ride in the rear. If they canter off and she gets jiggy, we turn our backs to the leaving horse and stand. When she's calm, we try again, if she's still jiggy, we turn and stand. When she's finally calm facing forward again, we pick up the canter (easy canter) and catch up. This has worked REALLY REALLY well. She used to be really terrible, piaffes, flying changes with every stride, cantering in place if I held her in, etc. (but no buck, she's not a bucker). I wonder if this method would help you as well? We started off doing it in straight areas, where she could always see the other horse, and gradually moved up to doing it in areas where she would lose sight if she didn't remain calm from the start...
I also don't canter on a lose rein, i do walk and most of the trot on a looser rein but with canter i don't pull but i have a firm contact so i can stop him with a tweak of either rein. Not really to stop him running away, because he is mostly lazy enough not to do that but so he can't get his head down if he does decide to throw in a buck.
We were past the half way home point tonight which is why i think my friends horse picked up canter. She's done it a few times on rides mostly without thinking but like i said she stops as soon as i yell for her to.
He did/does have a pain issue with his wonky hip but does see the chiropractor and i did just get a lovely new saddle that fits him like a dream so i'm hoping that helps him too.
Wit riding and the bucking i've been keeping my canter sessions short with him (and been doing this for a few years now to be honest, i figure baby steps are better than no steps). In the arena i ask for canter, let him go for a few strides and then back to trot, then i ask again, go maybe half or 3/4 of the arena and then slow it down. Mostly i did this because he had the horrible cross canter and now only does it very rarely, so i was trying to train that out too. When i first did this he could barely make it 2 or 3 strides without throwing in a buck so we've made progress. Tonight on trail was the first time i've asked him to canter outside of an arena in about 4 years. We did a long straight towards my two friends who had ridden ahead and were waiting for me. I wanted him to go alone so everyone elses excitement didn't bleed over and so that he could see his buddies and that they weren't trying to leave.
I know what you mean by not a tiny little hop, Phoenix does the rodeo buck, as you can see from my avatar :)
I only have any bucking when he is behind a cantering horse. never in arena or on lungeline, though I havne't really lunged him yet, only round penned.
If he is bucking because he figures it will get him out of work, and if you are pretty good at hanging on, maybe rather than slow him down when he bucks, you should push him forward. Bucking is a lot more trouble than cantering.
Abby (the horse I talked about earlier) just gets too excited. She would prefer to bolt off like a maniac and leave all the others in the dust when they canter. She can keep on like a maniac for a long time.
I thought i had it figured with my 'blocker horse'. My friends horses canter can be slowed right down and although he doesn't like to be left he deals with it (by whinnying, it's so pathetic), he acts as a trail blocker so phoenix can't see everyone else getting away and he remains pretty calm, but if the blocker leaves the whole thing falls apart.
The main thing is to hold on and don't get hurt. A nice helmet is a good plan as well.
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