Can't Stop Horse When Spooked/Bucking
I have a 5 yr old TB that I've ridden on trail and in arena for a year. 200 rides, and really no trouble. I was riding abt 4 or 5 days a week, an hr each time, sometimes a 2 hr trail ride. Then my kids got off for summer break and I had to skip some riding days, and when I got on one time (in a bareback pad, I knew I was taking a chance), he was feeling frisky and started bucking like crazy. I was so startled, I tried to stop but it was like my reins did nothing, he didn't feel them at all (he's normally very good) then fell off and hurt my tailbone, landing on cement. Got better after 3 wks and started riding again, and was cautious, so stayed in arena and made sure to lunge or turn him out each day, or have someone else ride if i couldn't... Anyway, was walk/trotting him over lightweight poles in arena (bad idea), then cantered him over them for first time and the pole popped up and hit him in the stomach, he started bucking and running, I pulled SO HARD determined not to fall that I broke my own finger. And then fell off. Now it is 3 wks later, I have 2 pins in my finger for 3 more weeks, having to do physical therapy on my poor finger, and I just feel like an uneducated rider. I obviously haven't trained him one-rein stop (thought I had), or whoa. He's 16.2, really not a runner or a bucker til these last 2 experiences (he only bucked twice the first month I had him, when learning the right lead canter). I'm feeling like I'm 47, I should maybe have a short, seasoned trail horse that already knows how to do everything. Plus I have kids I'd like to get riding, and he's not a horse for them. I can't afford to fall off. He's just the sweetest horse, should I keep working with him for the next few years as he matures? Should I lease him out, should I try and take some lessons? I'm feeling lost, and I miss riding! My neighbor says harsher bit, the pony club trainer girl who has helped me from time to time says no harsh bit, amd I just feel scared not having the control I thought I had. Is it the whoa? I have 3 wks to work from the ground, would love advice for what I should do. He was not raced or race trained. He's just a doof. I probably need lessons, I only had them when I was 9, I've just been riding ever since, trail. Rode lots of difft horses, but never had bucking horses so I'm new to it, no skills in that dept (except knowing to sit deep, pull their head up, etc) but I'm not very good at it apparently and don't enjoy it! Did I mention I love the horse? He just stands next to me whenever I go out to the barn. He's a loverboy. I just feel old!!
Had a horse once who did the same thing, called Famous.
What I did and I believe you need to do as well, is actually to tell your horse who the boss is. Which is you!! Highly often you can feel it in how they walk, if they are up for being goofheads now or if they are up for being good co-operative animals.
When your horse starts to run off, you are NOT to pull back in the leashes and demand it to stop because you wont any success there as the horse has already taken over. What you are to do though, is to pull the horse to walk in the opposite direction than it is walking/running in. If your horse runs off towards the right, pull it to the left, and the other way around. The horse's mind are focussed on "Let's run THAT way", and when you tell it to run the other way that it's focussed on running in, you pull it out of it's focus and that way you're able to stop it cause you pull the focus and concentration away from itself and say I'M in charge here!
Secondly, if you ride inside a hall you can use the corners of also. Guide it in towards the corner, where there aren't any possibilities of running off further.
When it comes to bucking. When your horse begins to buck and be goofy with that, use a sound or a Word with a harsh tone of voice as NO. Stop the horse up entirely so it stands still and wait with continuing till he has stopped the bucking around. If he then Begins Again, stop Again. Remember to praise it with a soft tone of voice, when he behaves.
Most importantly, don't give in and don't give up cause if you do that you are telling the horse, "You win".
Btw. Just so you know. The age of horses 5 - 7 is the horse's teenage years in mentality.
What kind of bite are you using? The horse is young, and it sounds like there are some holes in his training. He now knows that bucking is a way to get you off and get out of work. The first time may have been just a freak thing, the second he was startled by the pole, the next time no telling what is going to set him off. When he goes to bucking the reactive side of his brain has taken over and you need to get him thinking fast. Obviously the best option is he does not start bucking in the first place, but since he has gotten you off twice it is likely he will do it again. I highly recommend you go back to ground work with him and do lots of desensitizing. A little jump or scoot if something like a pole hits him is acceptable, going into a full out bucking, running spree is not. You need to be able do the one rein stop and disengage his hind quarters, so if he goes to buck you can stop him. If you don't feel confident to do the ground work, and teach him to be soft and and responsive then get someone to help. While I generally don't think a stronger bit is the answer, a different bit may be. Be safe.
Welcome to the board, OP!!!
I'm sure you are going to get lots of tips here. But in all honesty, I would seek out someone who could work with you and your horse together. First evaluate where you both are as far as training and experience. It's amazing how many years one can ride thinking we are doing okay and then along comes a horse who shows you in short order how much you DON'T know, and I speak from personal experience.
I would keep the kids off the horse at this point. This breed is generally not known to be the calmest, most laid-back group but it's what you have. And you like him. But I would seek help and get some of these issues corrected as soon as you can before it becomes an even more serious issue.
Good luck to you and keep us posted.
Thanks, everyone, for the advice! I did start desensitizing him to a bunch of stuff since I'm only able to do groundwork for now, especially things hitting his feet and legs (walking and trotting through sticks that move, crossing tarps, balloons, hula hoops, touching him with pool noodles and other scary objects). Started him free jumping over small jumps to see if he can get used to hitting and knocking over poles. And started ground driving him and trying to put a good verbal WHOA in him. I am learning that maybe I don't trust/use my seat and legs enough, so I'll be working on that when I get back in the saddle. He is a teenager, I know! Gotta get his attention faster when he spooks and I'll hopefully have better luck keeping his head up. I'm thinking of using a Kimberwick bit (since I ride with very light contact) so there's a little curb action in case I need it in emergencies. But I'm hoping to relearn better control with lower body to help in general teach him to be a well mannered boy, even in spooky situations. Any other advice or ideas people have, I would appreciate! It has been really fun, actually, to teach him to trust during the desensitizing! I am learning to be the leader, more, and learning how the horse's brain works, so I'm a better partner. I do have a pony club girl who is an excellent helper guiding me, but I only get to see her about once a month!
All the desensitizing and ground work will translate in the saddle when you ride again. That is great you are aware that you need to work on your seat and legs. When you do go back to riding get your one rein stop down so it is second nature for both of you, as soon as you pick up a rein your horse should be ready to give to the pressure. That one rein stop will be what you do if he spooks, goes to bucking or gets worried etc.. So long as you use a jointed kimberwick I imagine it will be effective for lateral flexion which is what you will need when you start riding. Glad your enjoying the ground work and having fun with your horse, that is how it is supposed to be.
I wouldn't get back on the horse until he is soft as butter side to side and you have a flawless emergency stop at the walk.
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"" I pulled SO HARD determined not to fall that I broke my own finger. And then fell off. Now it is 3 wks later, I have 2 pins in my finger for 3 more weeks, having to do physical therapy on my poor finger, and I just feel like an uneducated rider. I obviously haven't trained him one-rein stop (thought I had), or whoa""
I see this as a main problem. Never pull back on a bucking or bolting horse and always employ a one rein stop. If you had been able to reach down and pull his head around you could have shut him down. The key to one rein stops is to PRACTICE. You CANNOT just teach a horse to flex under saddle, do some stops at the walk and think he knows what a one rein stop is. He needs to be soft on the ground and under saddle. He needs to KNOW what a one rein stop is at a walk and it wouldn't hurt to get it down at the trot and canter as well. And I mean practice. Not just 10 times at each gate and be done. Make it instinctive. If you are riding a horse that bucks and bolts, I believe a good, solid one rein stop is just as important (maybe even more important) than a helmet.
My advice to you would be to do some one rein stop work in the arena along with ground work.
As for the pole hitting him in the belly - I believe most 5 year olds would have reacted similarly and he just needs more desensitizing.
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I ride scads of OTTB'S fresh off the track, and the key is circles. a great one rein stop, and lots and lots of circles.
When a rider asks me for help, the first thing I do I get them to do a good session working on flexing and the one rein stop, at a walk and trot. Then I take away a rein. People get it in their head that "pull means stop", and only having one rein takes away that ability. If the horse goes too fast, circle till they slow down, if the rider wants to stop, they have to one rein stop. It gets the message across pretty quick.
I don't agree with beating the one rein stop to death, but you should do it enough that your horse is thoroughly familiar with it and it becomes second nature to you. As soon as the horse spooks or bucks, you ask for a one rein stop, which disengages the hindquarters and stops the misbehaviour immediately
I don't think you need to switch bits, you need to switch tactics. Get him flexing, responding very well to the bride on the ground, and quiet and respectful. then you can move on to under saddle work.
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