View Full Version : Horse lands bucking after jumps when following another horse on trails/XC

Jun. 26, 2011, 09:13 AM
Also posted this on the Eventing board, but thought I could capture a wider audience posting here as well:

When following another horse on trails or XC schooling, my horse will land bucking when he thinks the other horse is leaving him. He does not do this when the other horse stops right after the jump, or when we are by ourselves, but only when the other horse is still moving as we are jumping, or down a ways from the jump. It seems to be only when he thinks he's being left. Also when the other horse we're riding with goes around a bend and mine can't see him anymore, he gets upset.

I ride some with one rider/very experienced trail/XC horse, and with another who is also a little green. The rider of the experienced horse says it's ok to do whatever I need to do in order to fix it, as her horse won't get upset if we move away from him, etc.

So do you have any suggestions on how I can work on this problem? I want to do some hunter paces in the fall, and have a more enjoyable ride out in the fields/trails with other horses. One suggestion was to turn him around and go away from the other horse when he bucks, so that bucking will equal going away from the horse he wants to catch up to.

Background - 7 yr old Appendix Gelding, has been ridden outside of the ring (moved from hunter to eventing barn with 300 acres!) for about 7 weeks now. He's very comfortable out in the fields and trails (except for the instances I described) and the rest of the time is a very mellow, well behaved horse! Previously we did occasional trail rides.

Thanks for any suggestions!

Jun. 26, 2011, 04:39 PM
You might also try posting on the Hunting board as they probably deal with this specific training issue (herd bound x fences) the most.

I would just suggest working the issue out minus the fences first. In endurance you may be riding with someone, but then for whatever reason have to part ways. Meawhile you have horses passing you and you passing horses all day. It's advisable, then, to get some experience riding alone, with groups, and splitting off from a group to prepare for those first competitions. And then pace yourself in the early competitions (go slow) to compensate for the horse's nerves. Most of them get the idea that they are with YOU, and how you's guys respond to all that's going on around you is the rider's decision.

Stopping or turning around when the horse starts on his own agenda may be helpful, but could backfire if he's too nervous or frustrated. He may start spinning or rearing on you. If you can, find loops, however small, to move away from and back toward the other horses. If he starts acting up, or better yet, before he does, turn or circle back and form a loop where you are not tracking directly with or away from his buddies. If you can, try looping so that you end up ahead of them, not always right with them or behind. Also spend time trail riding alone, and with him in the lead the whole time, which is a confidence building spot. Then ask your buddy horse/s to loop away whle you keep going. Hopefully, this will help him get the idea that other horses can be coming and going around him, away from him, ahead of him, whatever, and all will end well.

If he's being steady on the flat, then I would guess the excitment of the fence ups his adrenaline and heightens his primative horsey emotions. I think the basic concepts/excersizes I described would still apply. I might try walking after the fences to slow the brain down a bit. Your friend jumps ahead of you and tracks left and slows to a walk. You jump, bucky-buck, walk, track right. Think "I'm happy, calm, and in control! I have all day." The two of you make your way back towards each other, but without coming too close to each other. Everytime your guy looks longingly at his buddy, half-halt and get his attention back on you. Your the one he's with. Also, how is he if your friend goes over a fence, but you don't? They can get excited just watching jumping, so maybe let him see that without having to do it and worry about getting left behind. Maybe ride around on the flat in the same general area as your friend while she jumps.

I dunno, something like that?

He's had a big lifestyle change, so sounds like he's actually a pretty nice guy.

Jun. 26, 2011, 07:36 PM
7 is young in my book and 7 weeks experience outside the arena is nothing. So I would very much encourage the mindset that you need to explain to him what is expected- you aren't so much correcting malicious behavior as saying hey fella, bucking is always unacceptable, here is what I want you to do. And then work in one of many ways on the separation anxiety issue- start slow and build up.

I would agree that first you should work the problem xc w/o fences- with willing friends, go somewhere where you can play leap frog, have people pass or move away at different speeds, etc. And you can also reinforce what you want 'in' the arena- play hunt teams with some friends and jump in a group, one after the other, in first, second, third position. He bucks, you correct swiftly and definitively. (Same goes for xc bucking- got to nip it in the bud!).

Actually, the ideal correction for bucking, if you can set it up, is kick on through the buck and get him into a long and tiring gallop. As in, til he cries uncle, and then about another quarter to half mile. In other words, bucking equals a whole lot more work than you had in mind. Now, sometimes it's appropriate to shut them down to end the bucking jag and then kick on- but you sure don't want a horse to get the idea that bucking equals oh, goody, we get to stop working now.

Lisa Preston
Jul. 11, 2011, 07:09 PM
Well, you're right to address the bucking now. It's a lousy bad habit. Does sound like an excitement thing, so he might gain a great deal of confidence with short searations out hacking. If you have a short fork in a trail and can leave, then rejoin, a riding partner, it's a great way to begin separating while on the trail. We did this with the babies and it really helped. They'd scream, get over it. They had to respond to get what they wanted. We also used a small loop and road in opposite directions, so we kept coming to each other and leaving again.

Taking away the jumping will reduce the excitement factor and let you work just on the separation/confidence issue. Once he gains this confidence, add the xc.