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Bucking.


There is no one answer to the question how to stop bucking, but let's look at a few thoughts.

 Tension signs:

Very often horses start bucking because they are started too quickly, and not given the time to relax doing the things they are being taught.  The root to most bucking is tension of some kind.  Later, a horse can buck because it has learned this is a good way to get rid of the rider, but that is not (I beleive) the primary cause to the first bucking in a horse.  Very often bucking is not naughtiness, but a reflex becuse of tension.

So, if a horse is given enough time to get used to all the orders, and most of all, get used to having this silly saddle on it's back, and this more silly croup under it's tail, that helps.  Train the horses many times with just the saddle on, not a rider.

If you feel a lot of tension behind the front leg (between the front leg and the girth) this horse might be to tense to carry a rider without bucking.

If the horse tenses up when you rub it's belly, especially in the girth area, this horse might be to tense to carry a rider without bucking.

If the horse "shoots the back up", gets humpbacked, and stands all stiff when it is saddled or mounted, it might be to tense to carry a rider without bucking.

If the horse lowers it's rump, and/or holds it's tail stiff and unflappable down when you try to lift/rotate it, it might be to tense to carry a rider without bucking.

If the horse is very tense in other ways, for example very spooky, or carrying it's neck straight up with a scared look, it might be to tense to carry a rider without bucking.

Prevention and cure:

So, as preparation for carrying a rider, it is good to try to do all you can to let a horse showing these signs relax.  Ttouches help.  Rub the horse's belly and let it get accustomed to being touched all over, be very alert to all signs of stiffness and try to "rub them out".  I strongly reccomend learning Ttouches to help a tense horse, but so this paragraph won't be to long, I'll only name a few:  Mouthwork, rotating the tail, lick of the cow's tongue (especially on the belly), earwork, lowering the neck, an all sorts of tail and leg exersises help.

The first time you mount a horse, have a helper hold it if you have one, or tie the horse to a strong pole with an emergency knot.  Mount the horse many times from both sides, be careful, relaxed, and mount slowly without "bumping" down on the saddle.  Give the horse treats if it stands quietly.  Mount the horse maybe 5-6 times per day for as many days as needed untill it thinks this is no big deal.  It is best to let the horse work a bit before mounting it each day, so it has used some mental and physical energy first, and is thus more relaxed to receive the mounting.

When the horse stands still when you mount, you can let it walk a bit with you on it's back.
That can be done by having a good helper lead the horse, ready to stop and relax the horse if it starts being tense.  A helper can also encourage a horse that has stopped because it doesn't know what to do.  If a horse stops, and gets kicked in the stomach to get it moving, it can result in the horse shooting up the back, which can result in bucking.
Also by tying the horse with an emergency knot to a strong pole with a 2 feet long free rope, and let the horse walk back and forth by the pole.  Then it has a limit if it starts bucking and you are more likely to hang on.  Pet the horse every time it takes a step.

When the horse manages this without all the tension signs (with a loose tail, no tenseness in front of the girth etc.) you can let the horse loose, and ride it in a pen.  Before doing that, the horse has to know all your signs for going forward, so you don't have to hit it to get it moving.

If you have a helper with enough knowledge, you can have him longe the horse with you on back, or tie it on to a ponying-girth on a horse that is ponied.  That way, if the horse starts bucking, it can't go so far, it only has a certain perimeter to buck in, so it is easier to sit on it.  This needs only to be done if you have a real problem horse, you don't need to do this with every horse that is started.

Other reasons for a horse bucking can for example be:
Sore back (check the saddlefit, put a thick pad under it, try riding bareback, see if the horse is overworked etc.).
Sore mouth (have a vet check the teeth).
Sore feet (have the farrier check the soles).
A scar because of the gelding (have a vet check the gelding-scar).
Mares can have ovary problems.
Horses buck because people feed them too much, leave them in their stalls and expect them to be dead quiet when they get them out to ride.

So if a horse starts bucking, check the horse out, have horsey friends check it out, have the vet check it out if possible, check if the horse needs chiropractic adjustment.
Too much energy (try riding the horse more often, and sometimes 2-3 days in a row, or give it less grain and such high-energy feed).

If a horse bucks you off for just one time, this is propably some "accident" and the horse does not see instantly the connection between the bucking and you flying off.  Usually the horse is even frightened because you made this sudden, unprepared and scary move of flying : )  So, hurry back on the horse and ride it for 1-2 minutes before going home and licking your bruises, and then this is very likely to never happen again - if the horse isn't showing the tension signs.

If you feel the horse shooting up the back (preparing to buck) or the horse is starting to buck and you still hang on, try to turn the horse quickly before the buck starts, and that sometimes releases the tension.
Or try to turn the horse into a corner, many horses stop there.
Or if the horse is difficult, try to grab the reins upwards, thus preventing the horse to throw the head down, the horse has to throw the head down to be able to buck.

If you suspect a horse to possibly buck, train it in a pen, so you have some control, at least over how far the horse will go.

Remember, that with every problem, a prevention is easier and more reliable than curing.
Most horses that show all the tension signs when you are starting their training, never buck if the training is done carefully and easy enough, with enough attention on tension.

The real problem horses:

Horses that have a long history of bucking, are not very easy to stop.  Some rare horses are also simply with a very bad temperament, and buck out of pure stubborness.  They are though very rare, and before you go into taking stricter measures, be sure that nothing is bothering the horse.

All the measured described above can be used, but because the stubborness or nervousness has maybe become second nature to these horses, the bucking won't just stop by a miracle.  Be ready to have to sit out the bucks, or to be thrown to the ground.  Riding in snow is one way to be sure to get a softer fall.  Riding in marches (wet enough so the horse has a hard time bucking, dry enough so it won't get stuck) is one way to help the horse getting accustomed to carrying a rider while not being able to buck very well, or even buck at all.  If you have your pen partly filled with 2-3 feet of snow in the wintertime, you can let the horse buck into that pile of snow, and many of the horses will quit... for a while.

A good old way to cure the real problem horse is to have a helper with enough knowledge, you can have him longe the horse with you on back, or tie it on to a ponying-girth on a horse that is ponied.  That way, if the horse starts bucking, it can't go so far, it only has a certain perimeter to buck in, so it is easier to sit on it.  If the horse starts bucking, or try to stop, hit it with a crop or your heels, desentisize it to the crop so it won't buck if you use the crop, only go faster (as it should).  When the horse has completely stopped bucking, you can release it, and ride it for a few meters, and then step down.  The next day, repeat the whole procedure, the horse should relax sooner, and you be able to ride it a bit longer.

Bottom line:

When training youngsters, keep the warning signs in mind, and try to prevent bucking happening at all.  If your youngster bucks, think, and try to prevent bucking ever happening again.  If you start riding a horse with a history of bucking, think, whether you can handle it safely, look for ways to find if something is bothering the horse, and don't start unless you're determined of winning over the stubborn horse.


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