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Bucking during Barrels, problem!

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Story time..
At a show last weekend, he behaved exceptionally well for the pleasure classes. He listened, never offered to do anything bad, and was just a great pony during those classes. We actually won 4 out of 7 of them!
Then it came time for the 'Fun & Games' at the end of the day.
We went in to do our run for barrels. He felt a little excited, but overall I wasn't nervous because he had been so good before.
So first barrel; perfect, but right between the 1st and 2nd barrels, he started bucking like a rodeo horse. He bucked about twice, maybe 3 times, but I rode it out, turned his head around the second barrel, and finished our run. It was SCARY because I thought I was a goner, but I held him back for the rest of the run because I didn't trust him at that moment.
Then we had poles. We knocked a pole, but other than that he was pretty good, excited a little, though.
Then it came time for speed dash (the one barrel in the arena.)
I felt kind of confident, so I let him go full out (which he LOVES).
Got around the barrel and were on our way home, he starts bucking like a rodeo horse again. It felt the same as the first time, but we were going faster so it was scarier/harder to ride out. I didn't fall off, and I 1-rein stopped him and trotted him accross the finish line, but I was really caught off guard.
So I proceeded to the next game. Keyhole. He did is so well, we got 2nd. He was perfect. No buck, just doing his job. Same with Egg & Spoon.. All the rest of the games he was great! But just those 2 classes, and it just happens to be the only 2 that include barrels.
What is it about barrels that he always bucks at? Whenever we practice at home, he's fine. The reason I don't think it's a saddle/pain/injury problem is because he was fine for all the other events, plus my dad and I checked him all over for swelling, or anything abnormal.
Why would he be doing this? It's so weird! :-|
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If he doesn't do it at home under the same riding speed and conditions then you can probably rule out pain. Are the barrels oin the course different? Height, color, etc. Or maybe he just gets excited during speed trials at shows? Just guessing. Good luck with it. That is a quick way to lose confidence so I hope you get it worked out soon.
 

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Sounds like a pain issue to me... A horse uses different muscles of their body in those different events, especially the pleasure and running events. There are even quite the differences in running barrels and poles. When running barrels you're asking for more of a full stretch and a higher speed. This uses the full extent of his body and performance ability. It just makes me suspicious that he does fine in the other events but when asked to give it all he gets uncomfortable and starts to buck. Maybe it's time for a vet check?
 

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How old is he? This sounds like what a friends horse was doing when it started having navicular changes. You may want to have that checked... as well as ringbone. It could explain why some of the Pleasure and other events are fine and yet he bucks with the stress of going full out. It puts more pressure on the joints and bones in the leg and the extra concussion on his feet from going faster may just push him over the edge.
 

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My lease horse that I rode for 8 years did that as well. Only with barrels but only with a bit. Moved to a hack and no more bucking. He was strictly an english horse but we did the yearly gymkhana for fun. He loved running but for whatever reason would buck like mad if he had a bit in his mouth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
He's 12 y/o, in good health otherwise. Just had a vet check on the 28th of June (for shots and stuff) and he said he was healthy, but that was before this... I was thinking maybe the rear cinch was too loose and it was flapping around and spooking him? Does that happen?
I can kind of tell when he's in pain, and he didn't seem like it to me. And it was weird because I let him run full out in poles and keyhole, and he didn't buck... :-|
But I could be wrong about the pain! aaaand now I'm worried... I'm definitely considering another vet check.. but it always pains me to have my parents pay $100 for a check when I'm not all the way sure that he needs it...
My parents seem to think it's behavioural, but they don't know a whole lot about horses. They know a bit, but not a lot about them. :lol:
Hmmm...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
How old is he? This sounds like what a friends horse was doing when it started having navicular changes. You may want to have that checked... as well as ringbone. It could explain why some of the Pleasure and other events are fine and yet he bucks with the stress of going full out. It puts more pressure on the joints and bones in the leg and the extra concussion on his feet from going faster may just push him over the edge.
That freaks me out.. :-( I really hope he doesn't have Navicular or Ring Bone! I'm a somewhat paranoid horse owner, so I often feel around their pastern area to check if I feel any bumps :-| Not that I would be able to really tell, anyway! Gotta do some thinking to decide whether or not I think I need the vet out... Leaning towards yes now.. :?
 

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Curious, is he afraid of trash cans? I had a horse that was unafraid of darn near everything - not spooky at all, except trash cans. No matter how I pushed him to listen to me, he would snort and come unglued at them. I'm noticing other rider friends report their horses being spooked by trash cans.

Just find it interesting and wondering aloud. I could be way off base.
 

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Whenever we practice at home, he's fine.
Why would the horse be in pain at a show but not at home? Have you done barrels at home since then? Did he buck?

It sounds like excitement to me. Your body position is most likely different in the saddle during barrels than pleasure.

I had a dog that could go into the conformation ring and never flinch a muscle out of place and compete at the same show in obedience to a score of 199. She was a therapy dog. THe calmest most obedient dog you have ever seen.

BUt OMG. Agility was her achille's heel. She ran around the agility ring like a wild banshee without any control at all. Twice I was asked to leash her and remove her from the ring because she wouldn't listen and was running around the ring at out of control doing obstacles at will. :-|

(On one hand I was very happy and proud. The other hand wanted to kill her)

My 5 yr will buck and act like a wild guy in the field when he is happy and relaxed and fresh. Maybe your horse is just unable to control the excitement at the full blown out excitement of barrels? Especially if you are beyond the intitial training phase and his confidence is up?
 

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There is a big different in running at home and running at a show. The environment and stress level is completely different and it can completely change the horse's attitude. They also give more at a show performance wise than they would at home..Meaning the horse is probably running harder which can definitely cause pain to flare at a show rather than at home.

OP, have you ever had your horse adjusted? It can do wonders, especially for a horse that age. It just wouldn't hurt to have the vet check and do a lameness exam. There just can be so many things that trigger this behavior that it's best to cover all bases before just saying it's a behavioral or something related to that. A horse can't verbally tell you when something's wrong so they show you, and most of the time when it's pain related the "showing you" is through bucking, rearing, or these type of behaviors. It can't just be ruled out as a horse acting out, especially if the horse is just now developing this problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Curious, is he afraid of trash cans? I had a horse that was unafraid of darn near everything - not spooky at all, except trash cans. No matter how I pushed him to listen to me, he would snort and come unglued at them. I'm noticing other rider friends report their horses being spooked by trash cans.

Just find it interesting and wondering aloud. I could be way off base.
He isn't necessarily afraid of trash cans, but he is the type of horse to just find something completely random and spook at it, and then come by a 100x spookier object and not even flinch... He's just got that type of mind. He has spooked at trash cans before, but he doesn't all the time.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Why would the horse be in pain at a show but not at home? Have you done barrels at home since then? Did he buck?

It sounds like excitement to me. Your body position is most likely different in the saddle during barrels than pleasure.

My 5 yr will buck and act like a wild guy in the field when he is happy and relaxed and fresh. Maybe your horse is just unable to control the excitement at the full blown out excitement of barrels? Especially if you are beyond the intitial training phase and his confidence is up?
I don't really know! It seems like he runs them fine at home and even at other fun days/rodeos. 3 weeks ago at a fun day we went to, he ran the pattern perfect. No offering to buck, and he ran as hard as he always does. He has only acted out during a barrel run one other time, and that was 2 years ago at this same arena (maybe just a coincidence?).

There is a big different in running at home and running at a show. The environment and stress level is completely different and it can completely change the horse's attitude. They also give more at a show performance wise than they would at home..Meaning the horse is probably running harder which can definitely cause pain to flare at a show rather than at home.

OP, have you ever had your horse adjusted? It can do wonders, especially for a horse that age. It just wouldn't hurt to have the vet check and do a lameness exam. There just can be so many things that trigger this behavior that it's best to cover all bases before just saying it's a behavioral or something related to that. A horse can't verbally tell you when something's wrong so they show you, and most of the time when it's pain related the "showing you" is through bucking, rearing, or these type of behaviors. It can't just be ruled out as a horse acting out, especially if the horse is just now developing this problem.
I completely agree! I get excited, he gets excited, people are cheering, clapping, there's so much more stimulation that would make him push himself harder. I just find it weird that he does it here and not at other fun days and local rodeos in different places.
No, I have never had him adjusted. I'm all for it, but ultimately my parents make the decisions. If they agree that it's what he needs, I'm sure they'll let me go through with it. I'd never want to have my guy in pain! :-(
 

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and spook at it, and then come by a 100x spookier object and not even flinch... He's just got that type of mind.
I completely get this. The horse terrified of trash cans? One day a carload of teen boys threw lit firecrackers at me and my horse on the side of a rural road. They went off, I had that "life before your eyes" moment expecting the worse and he didn't even flinch.

I literally said out loud to him "really? and trash cans are scary??" LOL
 

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Do you use spurs or a whip? I see this SO often in barrel racing, and quite frankly I attribute it to 90% of kids and women having an inability to keep their darn hinny in the saddle. They yank the horse down into a sharp turn, then kick the bejesus out of him to run again.

I ALWAYS see horses bucking during barrels and yet not during keyhole or poles or flag races. I really think it has a ton to do with the "stop and go" mentality for horses. They get frustrated quickly. I'm NOT saying you're abusing your horse with spurs and a quirt, but even just kicking or kissing or urging him on. I think barrels tend to be one of the most frustrating and aggravating sports for a horse. It's like let me run or let me stop, MAKE UP YOUR DANG MIND HOOMAN.

I would work on him a little more at home, doing the pattern at an easy jog and lope, maybe take him out for a few gallops on the straight away. I know a lot of horses who tend to buck going full out to because they rarely gallop and have lousy balance with a rider.
 

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Do you use spurs or a whip? I see this SO often in barrel racing, and quite frankly I attribute it to 90% of kids and women having an inability to keep their darn hinny in the saddle. They yank the horse down into a sharp turn, then kick the bejesus out of him to run again.
I agree with what your saying but the comment on kids and women was uncalled for. Out of the hundreds of horse people I know the best ones are women. Dont be so quick to judge cause we are young or female, if anything it's an advantage. I'm both and I guarantee my horse which I trained will walk through fire if I ask.
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I agree with what your saying but the comment on kids and women was uncalled for. Out of the hundreds of horse people I know the best ones are women. Dont be so quick to judge cause we are young or female, if anything it's an advantage. I'm both and I guarantee my horse which I trained will walk through fire if I ask.
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Not to make assumptions, but I would guess women and children were mentioned because those are the people that tend to compete in barrels at rodeos. You don't see a lot of men running barrels.
 

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Thank you equiniphile, that was my only point. Men really don't have a sport that involves them lifting their rear end two feet out of the saddle to spur as hard as they can in the presumption that that somehow creates more speed then just riding quietly. I love barrel racing but abhor a lot of the bad horsemanship associated with it. And that goes for any men as well who DO compete, they just really tend not to and when they do, they still don't seem to mimic a lot of the ladies way of riding.

I'm also a woman and agree 100% that there are just as many bad riders equally in men and women, but when you hang around lower key rodeos you see a LOT of seriously bad horsemanship in the barrel racing. I hate to say it, but it really does attract the yahoos because they figure it doesn't take any real training or experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Do you use spurs or a whip? I see this SO often in barrel racing, and quite frankly I attribute it to 90% of kids and women having an inability to keep their darn hinny in the saddle. They yank the horse down into a sharp turn, then kick the bejesus out of him to run again.

I ALWAYS see horses bucking during barrels and yet not during keyhole or poles or flag races. I really think it has a ton to do with the "stop and go" mentality for horses. They get frustrated quickly. I'm NOT saying you're abusing your horse with spurs and a quirt, but even just kicking or kissing or urging him on. I think barrels tend to be one of the most frustrating and aggravating sports for a horse. It's like let me run or let me stop, MAKE UP YOUR DANG MIND HOOMAN.

I would work on him a little more at home, doing the pattern at an easy jog and lope, maybe take him out for a few gallops on the straight away. I know a lot of horses who tend to buck going full out to because they rarely gallop and have lousy balance with a rider.
Nope! I've never used spurs or a whip.. But I do tend to make the kissy noise a lot... :lol:
Barrel racing's not my (or my pony's) niche, we're more into pleasure & horsemanship type stuff. I like to run barrels/games stuff and Putts likes to run (oddly, he's an ENERGETIC pleasure pony when I need him to be!) so we love to run barrels, poles, and other games on the side.
I don't think I flop around in the saddle. I've been working hard on my seat and my trainer says it's good! -proudface-
I will definitely do that! We often go on bareback gallops in his pasture when we can :) He doesn't buck then either, and that's when he really goes his fastest!! :p
This is getting off topic... sorry...
 

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Awesome, sounds like you're doing all the right things! I just really noticed at the rodeo this past weekend how many horses bucked in barrels but were totally fine for flag race and pole bending. I know my mare does NOT like barrel racing but adores pole bending. I just really don't think she gets OR likes the idea of cranking so hard around a barrel - she always blows wide and refuses to listen to my outside leg. We just "play" as well, she's a Dressage horse by day! But she LOVES the "forward" stuff like pole bending and flag race. It makes sense if you think about it! It's easier to transfer that forward motion from side to side and slow to faster then it is to basically SLAM to a stop and then BOLT to a gallop 3 times in like 15 seconds! I truly admire good barrel racers, we have a woman here on an amazing stud and she's literally my hero of barrel racing - so quiet and efficient and her horse is SO calm and well behaved, and they kick butt. And now his foals are kicking butt too!

LOL so off topic. :lol: Sorry!
 

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A different perspective here: When you're showing, you're not correcting. So, when he bucks, basically it's okay. Doesn't make him a bad horse, just a horse who is learning that he likes to buck under these circumstances. You may need to approach it from a training standpoint and correct at the time it's happening to change it. Otherwise, why would your horse decide to change that when he's the one deciding to do it. Since you keep going, maybe he even thinks you are enjoying it with him.
 
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