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  1. #1
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    Mar. 9, 2016
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    Default Bucking.

    So I have a conundrum.

    My 5 year old gelding really seems to enjoy hunting. (Hunted most of last season, a mix of first, second and third fields.)

    He never stress sweats, loves watching the hounds, is a great little jumper or will stay back in third field and walk trot, or even lead the third field. He's easy to stop, stands quietly at checks, crosses anything, great walk/trot... but get a good canter where someone flies up, past or just takes off in front of him and he lets loose with some pretty good bucking. (And whomever said they can't buck and run didn't have an agile 14.2 gelding...)

    Other riders have hunted him. I'm smallish, and my taller, heavier friend didn't have the bucking problem, she rode in a very upright weight in his back way. Another friend just sat through them and has the guts that the odd bit of excitement doesn't rattle her.

    WWYD to stop this? I can sit them (right up until I can't, which has only happened once) but I'd rather he didn't do it. I'm a bit of a weenie as a rider, and frankly I don't have the guts to deal with it, I start to feel nervous and scared, which doesn't help either of us! By the end of last season he was getting better, but at hound exercise (first of the season) today it was right back to the beginning.

    He's quiet at home, at hacks, in clinics, in busy warmup rings with people flying by in every direction. He was very quiet even today until the hounds arrived... and then he knew it was hunting and that was it, I took him for a canter in the little arena there and immediately he was thinking of bucking, when not 5 minutes before he was all ho-hum.

    If I thought he hated hunting I'd throw in the towel, but every other indication from him other than the bucking (maybe including the bucking?) says he likes it to me?



  2. #2
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    He probably doesn't know that he's not supposed to do that. That's good that he's not so intent that your (heavier/braver) friends can keep his feet on the floor, but he now knows that he can do it with you and that's a problem.

    How have you tried to stop it? Sit hard? Yank upwards with one rein? yell no? Make him whoa yesterday? Can you lift his head and kick him forward?

    If you can sort of feel it coming on, can you react quickly enough to keep him from doing it by keeping his head up, or slowing to a trot?

    Maybe your brave friend can take him out a couple of times and let him buck but correct him.

    Also, cut his food before exciting days. He can recoup his calories afterwards but a reduction in grain can do wonders for keeping the fizzies at bay.


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  3. #3
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    Mar. 9, 2016
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hilary View Post
    He probably doesn't know that he's not supposed to do that. That's good that he's not so intent that your (heavier/braver) friends can keep his feet on the floor, but he now knows that he can do it with you and that's a problem.

    How have you tried to stop it? Sit hard? Yank upwards with one rein? yell no? Make him whoa yesterday? Can you lift his head and kick him forward?

    If you can sort of feel it coming on, can you react quickly enough to keep him from doing it by keeping his head up, or slowing to a trot?

    Maybe your brave friend can take him out a couple of times and let him buck but correct him.

    Also, cut his food before exciting days. He can recoup his calories afterwards but a reduction in grain can do wonders for keeping the fizzies at bay.
    I yell at him and pull his head up. If his head is up (already up or when pulled up) he just leaps straight up like a deer, instead of bucking. If I happen to know its coming and sit deep, keep his head up, etc I can keep his feet on the floor, but sometimes things happen and someone gets up and goes and I'm not ready, or he decides a particular departure is extra exciting.

    Today I made him stop, leave the field (small field of 4) and let them gallop away. We held back and did our own thing W/T with one or two short canters (with no bucking) and he was fine. He doesn't really care that much about the other horses, when it comes down to it. He tosses his head and jigs a little as they leave and while held away from the field, but he's not bad.

    After the hound exercise was over, I asked our Master (and the landowner of the fixture) if I could take him back out for a few minutes to canter solo to let him know that he can't be an idiot, get to take it easy and then just go home. He thought briefly about bucking but then cantered quietly.

    He's not on an appreciable amount of grain (1 cup, once a day, just so he thinks he gets something), so cutting his grain isn't an option!



  4. #4
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    Feb. 19, 2013
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    It sounds like he's overly excited and not really being dirty about it. Schooling him is the best thing you can do, I think he knows he can get away with it for you so he doesn't try other riders like he will try you.

    Have you tried giving him a smack with a whip when he does it? I've had luck with getting my mares attention by occasionally giving a little whack behind my leg, it's just a reminder that I'm the one in charge. Sometimes you really need to get his attention. Are you always pulling him back and slowing down when he does it? If so it may benefit him to move forward when he does it, or thinks he is going to do it. Regardless you need to make him slightly uncomfortable to break the habit now. It is downright dangerous to have a rider over-mounted in the hunt field and it sounds like you teeter that line.

    I've ridden a lot of bucking horses and every time I've tried to correct the situation by slowing down or stopping it has only made it worse. Every time I made them move their feet or go forward in a working frame it has helped work through the issue.


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  5. #5
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    .
    Last edited by Huntin' Pony; Apr. 13, 2016 at 06:19 PM. Reason: correction



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernYankee View Post
    I've ridden a lot of bucking horses and every time I've tried to correct the situation by slowing down or stopping it has only made it worse. Every time I made them move their feet or go forward in a working frame it has helped work through the issue.
    This is so true. I had a horse that bucked while hunting, and I think it escalated because I started hanging on his face. Will could buck like a bronco, so I could never stick. I had my event trainer hunt him a few times, while I rode my other horse. She has a reputation for being "extra sticky". We were making good progress, and I had hunted him myself a couple of times, when he tore up his stifle (while running around his paddock bucking like a maniac. He was very athletic!) and I had to retire him.

    We also would hack out together, and she would gallop him behind me to simulate the situation when he bucked hunting. That was helpful as well.

    Good luck! I was (and still am) devastated by Will's injury, but the horse I bought after him is such a joy to hunt. It makes a huge difference riding a horse you can trust.
    Delaware Park Canter Volunteer
    http://www.canterusa.org/



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernYankee View Post
    It sounds like he's overly excited and not really being dirty about it. Schooling him is the best thing you can do, I think he knows he can get away with it for you so he doesn't try other riders like he will try you.

    Have you tried giving him a smack with a whip when he does it? I've had luck with getting my mares attention by occasionally giving a little whack behind my leg, it's just a reminder that I'm the one in charge. Sometimes you really need to get his attention. Are you always pulling him back and slowing down when he does it? If so it may benefit him to move forward when he does it, or thinks he is going to do it. Regardless you need to make him slightly uncomfortable to break the habit now. It is downright dangerous to have a rider over-mounted in the hunt field and it sounds like you teeter that line.

    I've ridden a lot of bucking horses and every time I've tried to correct the situation by slowing down or stopping it has only made it worse. Every time I made them move their feet or go forward in a working frame it has helped work through the issue.
    Agree with this - any time I have ever corrected a buck, I made it worse - sometimes to the point where the reaction to the correction was massively out of proportion - ex. once, I corrected a client's (non-green) horse who gave me a BIG dirty buck right after a fence by a smack on the rump and he took off, bucking a storm for nearly two laps.

    However, the older and more experienced I get, the more I find chronic bucking is related to soreness somewhere in the back. One or two bucks in the field is normal - but if you're getting bucking (especially when you first start cantering) that is a big red flag. IME, bucking is usually closely related to saddle fit - when you cue the canter are you sitting deeper? The fact one of the other riders rode lightly above the saddle and got no bucks, to me, is the smoking gun -- that this horse prefers no pressure over his back likely due to pain or discomfort caused by the saddle.

    A horse knows what a buck is - they know it is meant to get what is on their back off -- so I rarely look at a buck as jolly good fun if there is more than one.. some horses do it when the saddle presses down uncomfortably somewhere and have learned the buck shifts the saddle.. others do it because they're in pain and bucking gets the rider off.
    Forward is Good.. Progress is Better: BlunderBlog
    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


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  8. #8
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    I ride him 4-5 days a week and he ONLY bucks in the hunt field. *Except if I give him a month off and try to get on him without lungeing, he bucks then too, to be fair.

    He's done it with multiple saddles (I took him out in his Western on Wednesday, in fact, the same saddle he was ridden in the day before, was wearing for an all day clinic with tons of horses where he was a star a week ago..) and has been recently checked by a chiropractor/vet, and saddle fitter. Its not back soreness in this case, it was an issue I had considered. He's also had his teeth checked.

    Its definitely excitement.

    He was nice, calm, cool and collected yesterday, until the hounds arrived. He hunted all last season (Spring by the more confident friend, Fall with mostly me), and by the end of the season, he was hunting without any bucking. Its a new season and we seemed to be back at where we started and it is frustrating.

    I won't say its wrong to say I'm teetering on over mounted - at least confidence wise. Riding wise I'm not lacking, I can sit just about anything he can dish out... but I don't like riding through it and it definitely rattles me for the rest of the ride. Wish he'd get strong or spook or something... bucking bothers me the most, related to a past riding accident (not with him.)

    In every other respect other than the bucking, I'd say he's a lovely hunt horse. I've never passed anyone I didn't intend to pass, run into anyone or put either of us into a spot where he was a danger to anyone bucking or no. I do my best not to hang on his face - he definitely doesn't need it, and outside of hunting he's mainly a Western horse, so he is accustomed to light contact and I try to maintain that as best I can while in the field.

    Nobody has expressed any concern about us as a pair to me and I have received compliments on his behaviour generally, in the field. Other than those bucks, he's just very nice (and a lot of people miss the bucking, when it happens, unless they hear me yell at him...)
    Last edited by fallenupright; Apr. 14, 2016 at 01:23 PM. Reason: qualifying statement


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  9. #9
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    Then he needs to learn that's not ok - like biting people is not ok and kicking the farrier is not ok.

    I think the easy going geldings can learn this pretty well. They don't tend to get offended and pissy when reprimanded.

    I had a naughty mare prone to leaping and bucking and Lucinda Green told me that I needed to make that behavior uncomfortable - one or 2 sharp yanks in the teeth, and then you proceed with life. It took 2 tries and and even that reactive mare accepted it. She never totally quit but it made a dramatic and nearly instant improvement.


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  10. #10
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    Maybe try an exercise that my old trainer called Hunter Pass or I have also heard it called Leap Frog. Get a few of your riding buddies to help you. Start walking in a line single file. The horse in the rear moves to the side, and does an extended walk until in front and then gets back in line. Each rider does this. Increase pace when horse is behaving. So next would be walking and rear horse moves over and trots past to front of line. Then trotting and extended trot to front of line, etc. Continue this thru all the gaits and maybe you can make it not so exciting for horses to come up from behind and pass at different speeds.


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  11. #11
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    I've had pleasure horses we broke of spooking while being passed by ponying in crowded warm up arena. I'd try the hunter pass. Also,kick forward rather than pull back,counter intuitive as it is.
    I had a bad bucket his first couple of years hunting but he finally became an excellent horse.


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  12. #12
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    Any chance you could get him leg yielding a little bit during those canters, to the L and then to the R, so as to displace his hind legs and keep him from putting them up in the air?

    Doesn't have to be classic leg yield -- just a shifting those hind legs at your command to the left and right. It would, in theory, give you more control over his body. Actually, any lateral movement initiated by you that gets him listening to you instead of listening to his excitement would be serve same end.

    Hope this helps...


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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simbalism View Post
    Maybe try an exercise that my old trainer called Hunter Pass or I have also heard it called Leap Frog. Get a few of your riding buddies to help you. Start walking in a line single file. The horse in the rear moves to the side, and does an extended walk until in front and then gets back in line. Each rider does this. Increase pace when horse is behaving. So next would be walking and rear horse moves over and trots past to front of line. Then trotting and extended trot to front of line, etc. Continue this thru all the gaits and maybe you can make it not so exciting for horses to come up from behind and pass at different speeds.
    This is a great exercise!

    It is something I've done with him in the past (before I ever took him out in the field). He's great about it... at home. I do wish I had a boarder with something drafty (the most exciting to have pass us, I suppose because they make so much noise coming up behind him) but he's generally good about having all his regular riding buddies pass him at any speed.

    But maybe its time for a review the next time I can manage to find someone to hack with other other than the dog. (He's also great when the dog passes him, even when she decides its appropriate to leap at his face in joy while doing so... hah)


    The leg yielding is also something we did a lot of last season when he was generally just "up" and not paying attention. Lots of two steps left, two steps right, while trotting. He does leg yield at the canter too, hmm, not sure if I can make that work in a way to prevent the bucking, but definitely worth a try.

    ...

    Miss hunting my mare, all I had to worry about with her was the massive leaps she took over anything watery and smaller than a river.



  14. #14
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    I generally don’t like to comment, make recommendations without seeing what’s going on. Body language of horse and rider speaks volumes to me. By your own admission you can get a bit intimidated when he acts up. So that kind of “sets the mood” for you and the horse. Me I’m used to it because I work with young horses, start horses out hunting, gallop racehorses, steeplechase horses etc. I rather they NOT do it but I have learned to deal with and sort it out.

    I have been around plenty of VERY good riders that have not had to deal with nonsense and or have never been on any horses that never acted up other than the odd mild buck or two. They’re don’t much like it either and don’t always deal with it well. So you are in good company if that is of any help. I also know it sucks because it’s kind of like being on a “known stopper”. Kind of makes for a nervous filled days hunting.

    If you don’t already you should always go out with yoke (an oh sh*t grab). I prefer a yoke over a neck strap, pretty much always stays in place and easy to grab for when needed. On these types of horses I keep a finger or two in the “loop”. Or I tell my riders to do the same. I also ride a tad shorter so as to be able to get up and out of the saddle quickly so as not to get “buck seated off” and or out off balance. Grabbing for the yoke will keep/help you from hitting him in the mouth.

    I am with others keep and get him moving forward. A light smack with your stick increasing pressure when needed. I have never found it necessary to really get into them just let them know for negative action there is going to be an equal response. Wearing spurs is a good thing also. But it is necessary to have the skills and presence of mind to use both correctly, appropriately and timing is very important.

    The majority of horses generally do not over react when be sticked. I pretty much always use it on the shoulder. But if they are being real jerks a smack or 2 to the butt can send a stronger message. Be prepared for an undesired reaction and deal with it appropriately. The horse may continue to buck for a couple of strides you just have to ride it out. But it really sucks and is a bit challenging if you are going downhill. As others have said you must get the message across as soon possible that you are top dog. Inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated. Pretty much all of them get the message sooner or later.
    Though I have a first flight horse that almost always started out the day with some serious bucks. Great horse other than that. It was rhythmic and easy to deal with. He put on a pretty good show and the kids always looked forward to seeing it.

    I know hunts can and do have different ways of going about things, starting out. The ones I go out with it is easy to let the hounds and first field get some distance before second, third field if there is one starts off. So if you can just start out as far back as you can hopefully with some friends that are on steady eddies. Ease him into the day for a while.

    I also have no problem giving a cc of Ace to start out with. This is SOP for lots of people I have hunted with. I know there is some controversy about this but I really don’t give a rat’s behind. We laugh at people who thing otherwise and or question our skills and or training abilities. Self-serving nonsense. The hunts I have gone out with are not sissy hunts, lots of jumps, tricky jumps and terrain. A touch of Ace is not going to effect the horse’s ability to handle what will be asked of him. To each their own on this.

    The above is not necessarily advice because I have not seen the horse in action, ridden him or know you as a rider. Just stuff to think about and or try. It may or may not be the best course of action for your fella.

    Keep in mind not all horses are cut out for hunting. They may start out OK as newbies but figure out it's not something they want to do.


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  15. #15
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    Thanks gumtree (and everyone else who replied)!

    I do definitely know people who Ace them before hunts (either the whole season, or just early season hunts) and I did Ace him before his first hunter pace, and he was awesome with that, so its an idea... just not a particularly budget friendly one!

    His bucking like you former horse is not that hard to deal with. He's the smoothest little horse - 90% of his bucks are very easy to sit. (Yes, bucking downhill is definitely the most unpleasant, though I am impressed at his balance to be able to canter, buck and make it down a hill all at once...) It just unnerves me.

    I came off my first hunt as a member, and ended up with a T-12 Compression Fracture. I was back hunting 8 weeks later on the horse who did it (and yes, it was a buck, but it was out of character - her hocks were really sore and I didn't know, she's a very stoic mare, we took a jump and she was game but jumped awkwardly due to the soreness, I got half unseated, ended up on her neck, threw her off balance... and end result was a visit to the urgent care for x-rays.)

    So the bucking makes me particularly worried, over anything else. Not to mention the one time I did come off him... it was because he spooked and bucked... at the jump I broke my back at, as I went around. *headdesk*

    I don't think he'll over-react to being hit with a crop, I carry one and he's familiar with the concept. I'll give it a shot. I've avoided really pushing him on just cause I'm a) a chicken and b) know he can buck and move out just fine so I wasn't sure if it would help.

    Pictures of us going: (hope they work)
    Trot
    Canter

    (Ignore the badly fitted martingale, its no longer part of our hunting getup, I've switched him to a Kimberwicke on the top slot and no martingale.)



  16. #16
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    I agree with gumtree's post.
    My $0.02 is that you MUST punish bucking--it's 100% unacceptable behavior. I pretty much never let a buck go by without a punishment. It might be a tap with the crop, a jerk and a stern word on a sensitive young horse that is just testing the waters, or it might be a solid thwack with a dressage whip. And if the bucker bucks again in response to the punishment, they get thwacked again. I think this is one of those situations in training young horses where you need the confidence to make a correction with some authority. Otherwise, you end up negotiating with the horse over something that is not negotiable. IMO, it's unacceptable to just "ride through" a bucking episode without punishing it--that's pretty much saying "oh, that's fine, just buck whenever you want."

    Would it be a possibility to have a stronger rider work with him in a situation that is likely to set him off, a rider who understands that he needs to be corrected for the bucking and is willing/confident enough to do so? If he's not being evil (and I don't see any indication that he is) he will likely get it fairly quickly that bucking = a spanking and quit bothering with it. I don't think it necessarily needs to be out hunting--can you set up a group cross country ride and practice, in a controlled manner, some of the things that set him off?

    A last thought--it's perfectly fine to punish a horse for thinking of bucking or getting light behind. If I feel a greenie getting a little "light behind" or feel them thinking about bucking I'll go ahead and start making corrections--get the head up, tap with the stick, verbal reprimand, etc. You don't have to wait until the horse actually bucks. You and the horse both know what the horse is planning to do and it's okay to say "NO" before the plan is carried out.

    ETA: We were posting at the same time, but Ace is actually pretty inexpensive and I also agree a VERY reasonable part of your solution to this problem. I really sympathize with your confidence issues, I had a bad fall years ago and my confidence was shaken for a LONG time and it was hard work to rebuild it. Do what you have to do, there's absolutely nothing wrong with giving some ace to a young horse before hunting.



  17. #17
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    Well as you are smallish I like a pelham on a horse that can buck. You can ride on the snaffle--all day--but if they put their head down to buck (which I think a horse has to do to buck) they are going to punish themselves with the curb faster than you can without an extreme effort on your part (like your pinky). Being small, it is hard to correct as fast and as firmly with a plain snaffle/rubber bit etc.)

    I realize that it is counter too many others than insist you need to go forward with a buck and dont worry about the head --but it is harder to fall off if the head is not between the knees (sorry I am not that good) and I have not found a horse overreacting to the curb--they just stopped trying to bury their head for a buck because they knew the curb would get them. (It can also be good for duckers.)



  18. #18
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    I have never hunted, so take this with a bag of salt. I used to event, so XC is the closest I have gotten to hunting. Well, now I ride hunters, but I feel like XC relates a little more to hunting for some odd reason...

    So, I am super against the idea of acing a horse to ride. It's just not safe. Perhaps I am in the minority when I am at a hunter show thinking that a chemically calmed, or even physically exhausted horse, is appropriate. Both I think are dangerous to ride, but changing hunter judging standards is not the issue on this thread, so.

    If your horse was bucking, as some do, in response to you adding leg, or asking him to move forward or off it in general, I would agree that getting him to go forward is absolutely imperative. That would be a lazy horse trying to reject your direction and the fastest way to fix it is to teach the horse if they don't move forward or away from your leg at the moment you ask, or have some objection to it, they will be working much harder. I don't think that applies to this situation.

    When you have an excitable bucker, as many others have mentioned, first is to make sure the horse understands bucking is not an okay thing when under saddle. Doing this can be tricky. Personally, my horse is in the midst of rehabbing, and had decided cantering is hard work, and maybe it would be easier if he swapped leads, or maybe this is all just garbage and he should buck. We initially went with kicking him on, thinking he was getting lazy, whilst verbally giving him a "Nu-ah". In his defense, he did learn this quite well, as he started bucking, and then bolting. I am pretty sure the first time he did this he was quite proud of himself, as he gave me this, "Look Ma! I did it on my own!" kind of jig once I slowed him down. No matter what, you do not want the ride to end because they stop, you want it to end when they stop, and you are able to carry on.

    I don't think changing to a harsher bit to curb this problem (no pun intended) is the answer. Eventually, you would either have a horse with a harder mouth bucking, or a horse that sucked back, refusing to make rein contact, and potentially trying to go vertical. Changing tack is not the answer to fixing a behavior issue in most cases. A pelham, is also best used to help a horse lower their head, thus not something I would recommend in this situation. Plus the two reins will just give you more to manage. I flat my horse in a normal hunter dee, and jump him in a narrower hunter dee. We used to jump him in a pelham, and use the narrower hunter dee to flat, but as he has gotten fined tuned, we have been able to decrease the need to micromanage where his head is.

    If you feel confident enough to have a go at fixing the issue I would start where you feel the most comfortable. Arena? Smaller pasture? Do it on 'your' territory, where you are in control of the situation. Make sure you are very comfortable sitting down in a controlled canter. I would start by teaching him a one-rein halt. At a walk, loose contact on one rein, and use the other rein to turn his head to your knee. Once he stops and gives, release the pressure, give him a pat. Try this in both directions, at a walk first. Sometimes they will walk several circles before stopping the first couple tries. Once he understands the concept (if he doesn't already) try it at a trot, posting, and then sitting trot when you ask so you are off his forehand. A horse sure can move forward and buck, but turning and bucking is something they will be less inclined to do, as they will feel off balance. It is important to focus on just one rein at a time, you will have to put some slack in the other rein to accommodate this. You want him to come to a complete stop, and give a little, and then you can give him a pat. At the canter, you will give your abs a workout perfecting your deep-sitting canter. I emphasize the deep seat, because you want to make sure you aren't unintentionally putting weight on his forehand. Also, because if he knows that when you sit deep, you might be getting ready to pull him up, chances are he will start paying more attention to you as soon as you sit deep and stretch up. Assuming he hasn't started displaying this behavior, have a friend ride up, this helps keep you in control, because if you start to feel him get excited, you are more aware of his tells, and if you don't think you can handle it, you can call it quits before anything happens.

    Confidence is always an issue, even for the best of riders. All it takes is one fall, and you second guess what you can do. I commend you for not only taking on a daring sport (my horse would be the one running loose back towards the barn in terror at the sight of a pony and/or a plant) but for recognizing your limitations. There are far too many riders who put themselves (and others) in dangerous positions because they are simply unaware, or don't care, of the potential consequences. It is always best to play it safe. And, when I was horse shopping for my current horse (16.2 KWPN) I had a friend who rides western now on her 14.3 QH ask me why I would want to fall from something so tall. My reply? Because when he spooks and goes running off, I can feel it starting to happen before he does it. I have fallen off of more ponies and small horses than I care to remember. They are catty little things!



  19. #19
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    Don't rule out saddle fit because he only does it hunting. My QH only bucked when cantering in a group and since I rode alone 90% of the time, I thought it was excitement too. Turned out it was totally saddle fit.



  20. #20
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    My $0.02, for what it's worth, focuses on your description of your horse having hunted "most of last season". My experienced hunt friends have often pointed out to me that a horse who was a saint in year one will often get very excited and harder to handle in year 2 or 3...could that be the problem? If so, you have many suggestions here of how to get through it, but if you're nervous after a fall & injury, the best might be to have your more confident friend take him hunting a couple of times.
    I know my mare (14 hands, maybe it's even more a pony thing) was great in year 1, and pretty good in year 2. Year 3, we showed up for our first hunt of the season, she was a little up as we warmed up, no big deal, but as soon as the small field picked up speed & headed out she was running & bucking. Basically I felt like she was telling me she knew how much fun hunting is, and it would be even better without me!



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