neighiseigh asked in PetsHorses · 1 decade ago

Retraining a bucking bronco?

Okay, so she's not a bucking bronco, but seriously all she does is buck! She's a probably 9 or 10 year old thoroughbred mare who used to have back problems which caused her pain when she was ridden. This pain led to her bucking whenever anyone got on her. Now, my trainer has given me this mare as a project because now her spine is aligned correctly and she is no longer lame. This past weekend was my first time working with her, and she was amazing on the lunge line (w/t/c/halt to voice commands no problem). I lunged for about 45 minutes both directions, and then got on, very carefully of course! Started walking her around the arena in 2-point and she started hopping with her back legs like it hurt her...after probably 15 minutes of this she calmed down enough so i could have her on a longer rein and i could sit normally in the saddle. All we did was walk on a 20m circle, both directions, quietly and without bucking/hopping, and then i got off. I'm pretty sure she's not in pain, because she doesn't look off at all in either direction, and I made sure the saddle fit correctly and that there was enough padding underneath. Perhaps she just thinks it's going to hurt?

My question to you is, have you ever had a problem before with horses like this? What did you do to fix it?

Oh p.s. I had a standing martingale on her at first, but she just reacted worse to that, so i detached it and she was somewhat better. She's being ridden english with a copper full cheek snaffle. no spurs or crops.


About the martingale: my instructor told me to use a standing martingale. i hate martingales but i stuck one on the horse to make my instructor happy. i started to attach it to the noseband after lunging, but quickly decided against using it because it obviously would not help me control her bucking at all. it stayed unattached the entire time, both while doing ground work and under saddle.

and yes, the vet and chiro have both declared her fit and sound. also, before i tack up, i always check the horse's spine and surrounding muscles for tension and misalignment.

i'll try and keep you guys updated if i have any more problems!

7 Answers

  • Greg B
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Actually, what you are describing is exactly the way I would go about this. Short, slow rides often with lots of praise when she does right. No gizmos. I think you are correct in that she is expecting it to hurt and the bucking has become an ingrained behavior. I think you should keep working just about the same way. As she progresses can will go more willingly and without bucking, you can start increasing the riding time and decreasing the lunging time. I would also do a lot of stretching exercises both on the ground and under saddle.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Parnel
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    first, this would get more answers on the horse area. second, check if its pain. Pain in the back legs, barrel, or back could be causing irritation. If needed call a vet or chiropractor or if its back pain a saddle fitting may be needed to stop the pain. third, I have had to ride a horse that did little bucks. He is a lesson horse and was believed to be doing it to get you off. I'm not sure how your handling it, but you should lean back and sit to it. After wards immediately get him to do what you want. (Without getting harsh like with harsh whips or spurs, or overworking the horse) This way he will learn that he can't get away with it. Always end on a good note and don't push it until he gets over bucking. There are other reasons, and I have a book with troubleshooting, but I can't find it. These two solutions are from personal experience, though. EDIT- if its bucking bronco, you still need to ride through it and make him move forward. If its just a habit, if handled correctly, he should work out of it. I never delt with bucking bronco so I can't say as much but Im trying to help.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    In your case it seems your horse is expecting pain. I had a horse that was lame for months on his right front and would never pick up his right lead in canter, even when the vet and farrier delcared him fit. They can be just like humans. If you were to touch a hot stove and get burned, you would think twice about touching it again, even if it was off.

    You said she was ok for lunging but began "hopping" when you got on her? Even if you think your saddle fits it can still be pinching. Was it only your trainer who told you she was back to normal health or did the vet/chiropractor etc. tell you?

    I would recommend investing in a trainer. Not meaning you need to send her away to one but perhaps have one come to you. Any trainer with experience can check to make sure your saddle fits well both when you are mounted and on the ground. Also I suggest you have the vet come and give her the once over. It may not even be her back thats an issue at this time.

    Until then stick to light riding. Continue to lunged her before a session to warm up and stretch out muscles. Even use some side reins to allow her to stretch out her back muscles. When you start to ride, keep it to a 1/2 hour max. or even shorter if you feel she is not right.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Finley
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    I'm working with a horse right now who used to be bucked out til she hurt herself so badly, that she needed physical therapy. She has mild arthritis now in her lower back because of this, but has been cleared by a specialist for ground work and riding. She's 5 years old. Got hurt 3 years ago.

    When I first started working with her, she would buck and leap on the lunge line. After a few lessons, she stopped doing that and now I'm riding her.

    I started working with her slow, and she's still getting a monthly check up from a chiropractor/acupuncturist.

    1) Continue to get a massage tharapist or a chiropractor to check up and do some work on your horse, at least once a month.

    2) don't use any kind of martingale. these are dangerous as they don't allow you to get lateral bending...your salvation to "curing" a bucking horse. They are also not necessary. Use your timing and rein and leg cues to get the horse to break at the poll and give to the bit. It's easier on the horse. I only use a full cheek snaffle bit

    3) do a lot of flexing and hip disengagements on the ground and in then saddle to loosen her up and keep her body soft and relaxed. THIS is her real problem. She resists pressure and therefore she bucks. That's it.

    I'm already riding the horse I'm talking about and the only time she offered anything was on the first ride. She squealed and popped up her hind end when I was about to mount up. She thought "here comes the pain!" but with lots of repetitions....she decided, that I wasn't going to hurt her, so she relaxed. She only resisted a couple of times when I was on her and asking her to flex and disengage (hind feet to cross) and that was it. She squealed and shook her head a couple of times. That's it.

    Now I'm starting to ask her to trot under saddle and she's doing great. Staying relaxed. We do a lot of flexing and disengaging of the hips. One side and the other.

    That's what I'd recommend.

    This is a short video of her: (do the flex/disengagement exercises that you see me doing on the ground)

    Youtube thumbnail

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    Her back may still be hurting her. Get a vet to check her again and to check the fit of your saddle.

    It may just be a habit she's gotten into. She may expect her back to hurt whenever someone gets on her.

    One of the things that has made my horse move better and have a better relationship with her is giving her a massage. It may help your horses back or anything else that might be hurting her. When i was massaging my horse i was suprised at how many KNOTS she had! Exactly like human knots. All in her back. Now she moves perfectly, i give her a massage about once a week.

    Heres a really helpful website on how to do a massage:

    If your vet says her back is fine, just keep slowly and carefully working with her. Make sure when you start trotting that you post very carefully, and when you canter you may want to canter in a half-seat or two-point to keep the weight off of her back.

    Good luck!

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    What kind of back problems did she have? Are they from an old injury? What was done to correct them, and how has it been confirmed that she is now "fixed"?

    Keep the martingale off her, for starters. I also wouldn't be quick to assume she's not in pain anymore. Just because she doesn't look off or lame doesn't mean she isn't hurting somewhere. It might not even be her back - it could be her poll or shoulder.

    I would apply firm pressure with two fingertips all over her spine, neck, hips, withers, chest, neck, etc. and watch her very carefully for a reaction to pain. I'd be willing to bet you will get one.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    Depending on how long she was being abused with a painful saddle, she needs time, love, and lots and lots of patience. As long as you can prove to her over time that your saddle and or methods will not cause her back pain, eventually she will come to realize that it doesn't hurt. The big thing you have to do, is every time she even tries to crow-hop or buck correct her right away... That is what will prove to her that she doesn't hurt, and that she is trying to get away with what used to be a painful habit. Good Luck

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.