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blue eyed pony 12-16-2012 11:14 AM

First things first we think we have this pretty well licked - Mum and I have BOTH worked with and fixed buckers before - just wanted some more thoughts because he's so bad. We've only dealt with horses that buck 3-4 times in succession at most, this guy will do LAPS of the round pen!

Mum's getting a new horse. We went and saw him today, and there were so many red flags... he's a tad underweight, not skinny just could stand to gain a few pounds. So right off the bat we were thinking he would be a bit pricey to feed. His feet are dreadful with long toes and low heels [same as EVERY OTHER HORSE at the barn so it's the barn farrier, won't be a problem to fix]. He had quite a pronounced diffuse lump on his back. We talked to the BO and BO, with a very concerned look on his face, was all, "are you a good rider?"... we asked why, what does he do, and we were told he bucks.

Asked the owner how he is to ride. "Oh, he's a bit nervous, but if you keep your leg on and don't hang off his mouth he's usually ok."

Mum worked out some soreness in his back, and the diffuse lump nearly disappeared. I noticed he has hunter's bump and thought, sacro-iliac soreness might explain bucking, because sacro issues make every step painful. But Mum worked on his hind end and found no soreness. Plus, he doesn't move like a horse with sacro issues - THEY tend to move strung out, flat and on the forehand, and don't want to engage their hind end, because that hurts. HE moves like a trained dressage horse.

He was so sweet and so pretty and well put-together that I talked her into seeing how he goes under saddle first. His owner had an operation months ago where they broke a bunch of bones in her leg so she couldn't ride first, and didn't have a rider to show him off for us.

Tacked him up and he was fine, so I got on [in the round pen] after some dancing around... he is DEFINITELY nervous. Walked him a while, he chilled out, so I asked him to trot.

Off he went, a few strides lovely and relaxed, then started rushing, then started bucking. I rode it out and pulled him up, walked him some more, then trotted him for just a few strides and pulled him up again. Worked like that for a while until we could do a few laps at the trot in each direction. He chilled out, so Mum went to get her helmet, and meanwhile I thought I'd pop him into a canter just so that I'd put him through his paces before she got on... I bounce, at 46 she breaks.

OH MY GOD. I have never ridden a horse that bucked like that. I swear to god I have no idea how I stayed on but I did, I rode out his bucks and kept him forward until he settled into a reasonable canter then asked him back to a trot, then a walk. Tried again. Bucking. Rode him out until he settled, then back down to walk.

It continued like that for a while [an hour or more]... then I got off and free-lunged him for a while to see if it was the fact that he had a rider, or something to do with the saddle. Turned out it was a bit of both, without me on board he wasn't bucking as much but he WAS bucking bigger. He wanted that saddle OFF. I just worked him until he settled then let Mum take over.

Oddly enough, exhausted and with a rider twice my weight, he was an angel. So we're thinking we'll continue like that, just work him through it and keep on top of any soreness. A few soaked saddle pads never did anybody any harm. His bucking is, I believe, a combination of nerves and behavioural issues created by the fact that his owner is a beginner, so working him through it seems to be the best solution at this stage.

Honestly the only reason, after all the red flags, that we took him on, is because he is SO nice. That right there is a future dressage horse. He's big enough [16.2] and built strong enough that he can handle Mum's weight, he's really sweet, and he's only 9 so his mind is malleable enough to accept training easily. His natural way of going is uphill with an engaged hindquarter, he has amazing hock and knee action, and he has a tendency to want to carry himself round, when he is able to relax [so, without a rider, at this point in time; he just needs more miles and he'll be ok]. His conformation lends him towards collection AND extension, and my god can he MOVE. He is more than worth the money it would cost to send him to a trainer but with 32 years experience between us Mum and I feel like we're capable of working him through this ourselves.

At this stage, we are basically leasing him. We only need him for two years while Mum's pony matures, and we offered his owner the opportunity to take him back at the end of that period. The agreement is that if she isn't able to, or doesn't want to, he will then become ours to do with what we will. In which case Mum intends to sell him, and she was drawn to him because he will have good onsale value when he has some education. But he's SO nice, I have a feeling he won't be going anywhere if his owner doesn't want him back.

I am totally in love with this guy and I'm the one he was broncing for! If Mum does end up selling him, I swear to god I'm buying him.

Docs 12-16-2012 12:09 PM

I'm sensing youre a good enough rider that what you could do is free lung him with out a saddle first get him calm, lung him with the saddle and get him calm and then hop on ride him out his bucks and let him cruse on each gait for i'd say about 10 minutes with loose rein- if you have the ability which I don't doubt- then let your mother ride if hes good, just don't give up until you see improvement. I don't have nearly as much experience but thats how i've always fixed a buck. Good luck with him, seems like you've got a diamond in the rough with this one, just need to shine him up! Have fun and be safe!

blue eyed pony 12-16-2012 12:48 PM

Lol Docs he's Mum's horse, tis a matter of HER letting ME ride not the other way round!! hahaha. I have offered to be the jockey if she needs me, and have suggested I'm more than willing to take him to some hack shows to get him some results so his onsale value is higher if his owner can't or won't take him back. Show hack classes being entirely appearance-oriented, they like slim riders, so the results will be better if a slimmer person is on him.

I don't consider myself a good rider!! I cling well and a LOT of bareback/no stirrup work on my gelding [who crow-hops, pigroots and likes to take off randomly] has taught me how to stick. Physically I'm reasonably capable, no saddle bronc rider but I stick... it's the knowledge that's my downfall. If I can convince Mum to let me be the one to get the buck out of Ben I won't be complaining, though... I think it'll be good for me. I need to learn to ride out a bronc fit if I ever want to be a professional breaker/trainer.

Mum's the experienced one of the two of us [25+ years] but I'm not sure how confident she is. She hasn't consistently ridden in quite a long time due to a 4-year break and then a string of unsound horses [first an older TB mare that had been moderately raced in her younger days, she was ok for 3 days of work per week but no more than that... then a QH gelding with physical and mental issues] and the QH gelding ditched her badly 18 months ago and she broke her humerus, then about 4 or 5 months ago, took on the young pony I was selling due to Satin not growing as big as I expected. Satin's not quite 2.

Me, on the other hand, I have 7-ish years of consistent experience, on and off I've been riding my whole life bar 4 years so [I'm 18] I have approximately 14 years of experience all up... but like I said it's been quite inconsistent. And I can be pretty nervous... I don't like rushers or bolters [but Ben doesn't bolt, or take off, and he's easy to pull up when he rushes], I've had 3 taker-offers in a row and have gotten a LOT of scares... incidentally all 3 of them buck/ed [but bucking doesn't scare me, probably because of all the times I've been ditched by a bucking horse I've managed to land on my feet for most of them]... and rearing doesn't scare me but I don't much like the idea of being toppled over on.

I definitely don't consider myself either good enough OR experienced enough to be working with "problem" horses at this point in time, but I have a very experienced mother, and because he's her horse she'll be watching [assuming of course she lets me be jockey]. Plus my boss is an awesome coach/trainer so we can always go to her for help., what a change from this time last year... lol! This time last year I would have been all gung-ho I'm the best rider on the planet if I can't ride it no one can. Mmmm I think I've learned a lot in the past year?!

Docs 12-16-2012 01:09 PM

Oh, my misunderstanding! Sounds like youre lucky to have your mother there to teach you, I wish my mother had that much experience! You'll probably learn a lot from watching her! I'm not a big fan of the bolters by first horse was a pretty little green broke 8 yro grey mare. Beautiful horse, and smart- but what a booger (her name was definitely Hell Bitch for a reason!) First show I ever did with her someone let a paper slip and hit my mare right on the bum, sent her bolting and bucking towards the highway! I was scared straight, I've been riding for maybe over 4 years and after owning that little mare for 8 months I traded her out for the 18 yro mare i've had since! And first year riding I was cocky now not so much!

blue eyed pony 12-16-2012 01:32 PM

Yeah I'm so lucky I've got Mum! [she actually says knowledge-wise I'm ahead of her now but that's bull, especially regarding training... sure she's been a pleasure rider all her riding life but she's trained a LOT more horses!] My boss is pretty awesome too, and if she's about when I'm finished work for the day it's nice to chat with her about things. She has a few horses in for training that have foibles that are applicable to my guys, and I can learn a heap from her about things that aren't a problem for me at the moment, which all adds to my knowledge. I couldn't ride a 2nd level dressage test... maybe 1st, on a horse that knows its laterals [my gelding is sticky with his laterals and up until a couple of months ago I've been wondering if he even knew them], but probably not 2nd. I'm not a dressage person... yet...

I have a lot of theory knowledge [non-dressage mainly but I do know what you're supposed to aim for in that regard... just haven't got a clue how to get most of it!] because I spend a lot of time on forums and reading books, talking to crazy experienced people, etc, but it's really hard sometimes to put that theory into practice, especially when I haven't really had super-educated horses. Monty's my first "schoolmaster" and he's more of a jumping schoolmaster. I've learned a ton from him, can see my spot now and don't just point and hang on... but dressage wise while he is ok at it, he's pretty rusty, and dressage is something you really need a good horse AND a good coach for. I'm 99% self-taught. Or rather, horse-taught.

Ben's going to be an amazing allrounder. He has the BEST jog [WP... ohmygoddd], so he could turn himself to a few Western classes, but he naturally moves more like a dressage horse, is MADE to jump, light enough that he could event, pretty enough for show hack classes, solid enough for show hunter, big and strong enough to carry a heavy rider... he could basically do anything with the right training. I seriously need to convince Mum he's too dangerous for her and that she should give him to me :P

rookie 12-16-2012 03:26 PM

My only thought comes from my experience with my gelding who was in my opinion really tightly wound when I got him. He wanted to race off when you got on and when asked to stop had no problems rearing. He did not know how to just stand still. I noticed a huge difference between him standing in the cross ties and him standing in the cross ties saddled. The saddle came on and he got ants in his pants. So, I spent the first week or two just going out saddling him and then taking the saddle off. I tried to break the cycle that "we put the saddle on then we run around", to we put the saddle on and stand here. I just wondering if this boy has a similar mind set.

I would also say if possible ride through the bucks or lunge him to the point where he does not want to buck before getting on him. Although I am not a fan of having a horse that has to be lunged in order to behave. He might have learned that he bucks a few good times and people get off and leave him alone.

How is he on the trail? If this is behavior that is demonstrated only in the arena thats different. I have a young gelding who bucks (usually just once in the right corner near the barn) in the arena. If I go on a trial ride he is fine, if I go hack, ring work, hack he is fine. If I go ringwork, hack he bucks. This horse is very stiff and HATES ringwork and circles (in part because he has to use his hind end and he is weak and has trouble bringing his hind end under him). This horse is also very smart, we trailer him to an arena and walk him through a section of fence and he will stop at that fence section and be a brat right by the "door". So, I am wondering if for all your horses talent if he is really smart, hates ring work and has found a way to get out of it. Also I wonder if he does better when has time to decompress his brain. If he is not safe on the trail then clearly then mixing it up is not an option.

blue eyed pony 12-16-2012 04:16 PM

Going on what his owner said he used to be safe on the trail then he started ditching her at home and she just stopped trail riding him. I don't think it's saddle = go because he's not badly rushy, he got a bit quick a couple of times but was very easy to re-establish rhythm on. He was ok with the saddle itself walking from the crossties to the round pen, going to mount was a scary thing though. And trot/canter with the flappy bits [latigo, and a dangly strap on the cinch that idk the name of] was a bit concerning, but he did eventually get over it.

We do a LOT of just sitting and chilling out at my place! Especially in company, it's nice to have a break and just sit and do nothing. So he'll learn that rider does not equal scary. Eventually. He did apparently race, but I don't know his racing name so I can't at this stage find out how many times he ran or how he did.

We haven't got Ben home yet, we pick him up Wednesday, so a lot of what you're asking we can't really answer. I just feel like it's combined fear and learned evasion, and a little bit of anticipation of pain. Based on ONE ride, but I'm more likely to blame everything but the horse for problems. So I believe he just needs to learn that it's ok to be ridden, it won't hurt, and bucking won't get him out of anything.

We wouldn't have taken him on if we thought this wasn't something a few soaked saddle pads will fix. Rode him in Mum's Western with an inch-thick felt pad and the pad was damp on the OUTSIDE when we were done! [and he was behaving just beautifully, though that DID take a while - I would've been in the saddle easy an hour and a half and Mum had some saddle time too]

He does seem very clever and I think he's done a lot of natural horsemanship at some stage. He knows things my gelding [who did extensive Parelli work with a previous owner] knows... things that are PNH things not "common sense" things. BUT... he was a school horse before his owner got him, and he was skinny when she bought him/was riding him. In and of itself that's a problem for a green horse. Then there's the fact that the lady who ran the school has a kind of dodgy reputation... and the fact that his owner is very much a beginner. I can't say I expect he's had much GOOD riding. We're told he went to a professional for a while and came back much improved but started ditching his owner again so she put him on the market... we're leasing him for a while actually to do her a favour then she's going to decide in 2 years' time whether she wants him back or not. If not he's ours.

Ben doesn't seem to understand flexion [not surprised, that's a green horse thing and especially an OTTB thing which he basically is except with some incorrect "retraining" and a bit of nice training that's been overridden] but he knows some basic lateral aids so it won't be hard to teach him, and as for engagement/roundness, I think that's going to come naturally to him. I think Mum's going to have a ton of fun with him as a dressage horse and won't want to let him go!

mad mardie 12-16-2012 08:35 PM

Hows Magic going??

blue eyed pony 12-16-2012 09:28 PM

Good now - still a bit thingy about her ears but getting much better. I can't work much more with her until her leg is healed... and until I have a bridle that fits her... but I don't see what that has to do with Ben?

Foxtail Ranch 12-16-2012 11:16 PM

Blue, I have a horse that bucks when she hasn't had regular work. I need to ride her at least twice a week or she crow hops straight up! After 15 minutes of trotting, she is fine.

Is it possible that Ben just needs regular work?
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