View Full Version : Need ideas for fixing a bucking horse

Mar. 9, 2012, 10:27 AM

Mar. 9, 2012, 10:31 AM
Have you had a vet look at him?

Mar. 9, 2012, 10:38 AM
Yes, the vet looked at him when she checked his teeth to see if he needed a float or anything else. She did not find anything wrong with him from an examination, but did not do any blood testing or anything else.

Mar. 9, 2012, 10:44 AM
well if he has had his back looked at and any possible saddle fitting issues eliminated, i would check for ulcers as well, and also see if he is foot sore. if he is sulky and nipping at your leg, his belly might hurt (ulcers). if those don't provide you with any answers, i would think maybe he's just a little ring sour...

do you always ride him in a ring? maybe he needs a different routine with a trail ride or hacking in large field once a week. maybe he just needs a week or two off to recharge and start over.

good luck

Mar. 9, 2012, 11:19 AM
If everything checked out with the vet, hocks, stiffles, back, etc, my next question would be if he only bucks with you or if he bucks with everyone. Also, what happens when he bucks? Do you stop? Get off? Discipline him?

If he only bucks with you , I would see about getting someone else to ride him for a bit.

If he bucks with everyone, I agree he might be ring sour if he doesn't get out much.

If you are in an area where Lyme disease is prevelant, that would be something to check as well.

Mar. 9, 2012, 11:31 AM

Mar. 9, 2012, 11:35 AM
A lot horses will eat all of their food but still have ulcers. depending on the severity of the ulcers it will take a full Ulcergard, gastrogard, what have you to help heal them up. Also, to prevent them we use Ranititine at horse shows-10 tablets crushed up for a couple days. perhaps starting a preventive regimen of that would help, if indeed ulcers are the problem.

Mar. 9, 2012, 11:50 AM
ranititine- yes, that's what we're using now! Couldn't remember the name. We just started a couple days ago, though.

Mar. 9, 2012, 12:01 PM
I see this mostly with school horses and unfortunately, it can be several things. Since you've ruled out most medical problems (ulcers can still be a source it seems), it seems to me that he is bored and becoming sour. Is your riding routine the same? You appear to be confined to the ring but do you do the same thing every day or can you vary your riding regimen? Sometimes, the best thing to do is give him a vacation and when he comes back, try to mix up your routine. I suggest the vacation because you said that you don't simply put him away as soon as he bucks. If that isn't the case, then he's training you and you either have to power through this period and insist he work or get someone else to do it for you. Horses are very adept at training people and often times, we don't even realize we're being trained!

Mar. 9, 2012, 12:20 PM
about 2.5 months ago. He started bucking only at canter transitions, but recently he has started bucking at the walk and trot as well. He also is pinning his ears and tail-swishing, and he recently started turning to bite my right boot.

This sounds like pain.

Ulcers, you need to scope to rule them out BUT this may cost $$ - $$$$ so many people choose to treat with Gastroguard as it is a drug that does no apparant harm.
Depending on the severity of your horses ulcers (which is why scoping is a good idea) treatment protocol varies, also you want to step down the medication at the end of treatment rather than just stopping on Day 21 or 31 etc.
If you do a search here, best reviews go to the Merial product (they've spent a ton of money on research & having their particular formulation proved effective/safe etc), the "Canadian Omeprazole" & the "Blue Pop Rocks".

Ranititine gets mixed reviews (works for some, doesn't work for many) so if you don't seen much improvement with this, don't rule out ulcers.

Also consider your vet's level of specialization in equine medicine & whether you need a second opinion.
There are many conditions which cannot be ruled out without Xrays, Ultrasound etc (eg, broken withers).

Mar. 9, 2012, 01:19 PM
Also consider the possibility of mild EPSM/PSSM... it's more common than folks think. Get thee to www.ruralheritage.com (http://www.ruralheritage.com) - and enter The Vet Clinic to read up on it. Feel free to email Dr. Beth Valentine for diet assistance, as well. She's a gem!

Mar. 9, 2012, 01:58 PM
ChocoMare- oh gosh, I am making a slight connection here. Last fall, he went off to a trainer for a month and came back better-behaved (this was BEFORE the bucking started though), even while I was riding him at her barn during that time. It wasn't just with her. it was not long after that he started the bucking fits. And it turns out she feeds LOW CARB feed. That kind of diet would make a PSSM horse feel better, wouldn't it?

Mar. 9, 2012, 02:08 PM
Ahyup... So analyze his current diet and remove what needs to go: Starch & Sugar. Then increase the fat content. Tweak the diet over time to meet his needs ;)

I TRULY hope this helps!! :yes:

Mar. 9, 2012, 02:12 PM
What you have described sounds like hock pain to me. Has a vet flexed him? Taken radiographs? Even if he appears sound, he could still be having hock pain.

My horse was what some would have called sound (though actually slightly off), but he suddenly started refusing to pick up the right lead canter. Very sticky about it, and then would bronc when I demanded that he go forward. Had vet out. Horse flexed mildly positive (had been 7 months since last hock injections...so fairly recent). Injected him and the problem eventually went away, though it took some time. I think he was anticipating pain and/or had decided that we always buck into the right lead canter now.

What you describe about your horse really, really sounds like pain to me.

Mar. 9, 2012, 02:19 PM
I'm with FINEALREADY, when I read your post my first thought was hock pain.

Mar. 9, 2012, 02:29 PM
It also wouldn't hurt to test for Lyme.

It does sound like it's pain related rather than just attitude.

Mar. 9, 2012, 02:34 PM
omg this sounds like my OTTB. lol
i had the chiro work done. saddle fit done. treated with ulcer meds. Just had a huge lameness eval done. NOTHING conclusive. injected stifles and are starting there to see if he gets better. that and a course of robaxin..let me know if your horse is getting better!

Mar. 9, 2012, 02:40 PM

Mar. 9, 2012, 03:21 PM
Good for you for listening to what your horse is telling you and trusting your gut! :)

IMHO, trainers are always far too quick to say that x,y, or x behavior is an "attitude" problem. Every time I have thought a behavior issue with my horse has been pain, I have been right. Every time I have listened to whatever trainer I was with at the time who said that it was an attitude problem, I have regretted it. On a few occasions, my horse has paid a very high price for me not listening to my gut. We have to remember that we are the ONLY true advocates for our horses. Most trainers - even the good, well-intentioned trainers - are in it to make money, not to look out for our horses. They deal with so many horses every day that they do not have the time or one-on-one relationship with the horse to really assess pain vs. attitude.

So, keep at it and you will find the answer! Your horse is lucky to have you as his advocate.

Mar. 9, 2012, 03:31 PM
I would have the vet do a full lameness workup, as in 'pre-purchase' style. Not a stone unturned to see if you can find pain anywhere.

Mar. 9, 2012, 04:17 PM
i'll be damned- checked with his former owner about what his feed was, and it was a low-starch feed too after I looked it up!! he was an angel the first month I had him, so this is lending even more credence to PSSM.

Mar. 9, 2012, 05:31 PM
Does he gallop around of his own voilition in the paddock, which would indicate that he was feeling fine, or just when ridden?

I'm one of those who believe horses do not lie - good for you to be trying to understand him. There are, of course, those horses who do not respect authority and in fact are sticking the middle finger at you, too.

Mar. 9, 2012, 05:37 PM
He doesn't often tear around the pasture- he is most often parked at the hay bales or trying to mount his girlfriend, LOL. he will run away from his nemesis when he's bothering him, though, and sometimes trot somewhere.

Mar. 9, 2012, 05:52 PM

Mar. 9, 2012, 06:31 PM
Here is some info on PSSM that may be worth checking out, published at the University of Minnesota (well known for their research into muscular myopathies):


Mar. 9, 2012, 07:33 PM
I've only read your first paragraph but that much screams EPSM/PSSM. Please go to ruralheritage.com. Pay your $20.00 and discuss with Dr. Valentine. Also get him on a LOW starch/zero carbs/zero sugar HIGH fat diet.
Been there, done this. You CAN fix him but it is a LOT of work and dedication. Good luck.

Mar. 9, 2012, 07:38 PM
Good luck, sounds like you are on the right track with your thoughts.

Another issue I have seen lead to bucking is stifle pain (besides the more common hock issues that is).

Mar. 10, 2012, 10:55 AM
My horse started bucking a few months ago. He's 11 and has never bucked. Ever. He also started hopping, switching leads behind, stopping at jumps. He would always crash straight through a jump before he'd stop. So I knew it had to be serious.

I suspected a catching stifle, he's always had a bit of a hitch on the right. You'd have to really be looking for it to see it.

Had the vet out yesterday. She found no pain anywhere on palpation, full range of motion in all joints, he trotted and cantered on a lunge line perfectly sound, trotted out 100% on flexion. The vet was about to declare him good to go for the show season. However, when her helper was turning him to trot him back down the arena, his stifle locked. Then again turning him to go back. :)

If you can have someone video your ride that might help figure it out. Try to see exactly what is happening before he bucks. Video is a great tool because you can slow it down.

Mar. 10, 2012, 03:16 PM
Horses don't have "attitude problems"; some horses challenge more than others, say, "make me/what's in it for me?" more than others, but this isn't properly looked at as "flipping one off/disrespect". The horse is just being a horse, with its innate "horsenality", & the proper way to deal with it is to learn what'll cause the horse to start to enjoy his time with his humans. You can either do that or see how "getting on him" works for you.

Your trainer saying it's an attitude problem is scary, imo.

NH is right when it says to see it from the horse's point of view: how would you like being your horse, with what he's asked/told to do? If all you've got is the arena, that's pitiable for the horse, but at least mix it up with FUN for the horse! New games, new challenges, new neurons resulting, for a calmer, braver, more athletic horse. Sessions with you on the ground also offer a whole new dimension to your together-time.

Mar. 10, 2012, 07:26 PM
Seems to me this horse owner is trying very hard to figure out what is upsetting her horse - be it physical or mentally tough.

Mar. 11, 2012, 11:17 AM
I have read through all the responses so far, and would like to say that I am a trainer, and your horse is in pain.

The bucking will become habitual if you don't find the source. I have some comments/ examples for you for you.

I have a Morgan school horse with mild EPSM, he BITES we he doesn't feel good, and he subluxates his rear pasterns from time to time. When he is on the wrong food, he shivers and looks ataxic, is very crabby, and has a NASTY bite. His former owner used to beat him for it, and never took the halter off; it wore massive sores in his head. He has a two inch wide halter scar to this day, and I have owned him for 5 years. His former owner thought he was mean and stupid. He is the most forgiving lesson horse, and very dependable. He is managed exclusively with food.

I would investigate his front feet. He is a Paint, Paint are directly related to Quater Horses. Quater Horses have a long long history of having problems with their feet. I have a client who bought a lovely QH on thier own, did not do a prepurchase becaue they bought it at a hoighty toighty annual sale we have here locally. Shortly after they owned it it started bucking, and BITING THE GIRLS FOOT. He has problems with his feet.

I have a 4 year old POA/Welsch cross large pony in training, over the last year he has flared up some splints, we let them cool each time they get bothersome, and then resume training. The do not appear to bother his suspensory, but will make him trip, and guess what? Nose or bite at his young riders foot. The nosing the foot is the first sign they're coming.

I wouldn't rule yet what some others posters have mentioned. I am a little concerned that your vet didn't flex or jog him, or put him on the line and evaluate his way of going. I am also concerned that your trainer is passing it off on attitude. We create behavior problems in horses, in several ways. With poor riding, and pain, being the top two.

Mar. 11, 2012, 10:20 PM

Mar. 11, 2012, 10:29 PM
Since he's only been under saddle for 4 years, maybe he's having somewhat of a "baby" stage? His mind set could be "I'm not doing anything that I don't HAVE to do." And not cantering your normal amount could be sending him the message that if he bucks, he doesn't have to. I went through it with my four year old, started with canter transitions and then progressed to the trot too.
Try having someone else hop on him who can sit the bucks and doesn't mind riding through them. Have them walk, trot, canter, etc.. do his regular routine, and when he bucks, keep pushing him forward. That way he'll see that bucking doesn't in fact get him his way, and he'll still have to work when he does it.

Mar. 11, 2012, 10:58 PM
I dunno, if this is a horse that JUST started this, it does not sound like just silliness.

I think most pissiness probably at some point stems from pain.

Good on you for finding the cause. It really does sound pain-related, and you've gotten a lot of really great advice.

Mar. 11, 2012, 11:01 PM

Mar. 12, 2012, 02:26 AM
Id definitely try to rule out pain as much as possible which it sounds like you're doing. I had one that we thought just had an "attitude" problem and by the time we realized it was pain he was too sour to bring back. He went from being in pain to always anticipating pain. Couldn't get him over it even when we fixed his back and saddle issues.

Mar. 12, 2012, 07:44 AM
dont' foget about HYPP! You said tying up... If he is a registered Paint he's Quater Horse stock.

Hang in there, and listen to your horse. If your barnmates/ trainer don't believe you, it might be time to move on. It's your horse and your money.

Mar. 12, 2012, 08:11 AM
I recently had my big hunter's hips injected -- he was bucking after fences and was just generally crabby, as you described. We did a lameness exam after *I* thought it was his hocks; my vet determined it was higher and after working on the longe for several minutes, when she ran her fingers down his spine over his hips - it nearly dropped him.

The change has been phenomenal.

One thing I do want to point out though, is that your trainer is the one who knows you and knows your horse. You've been riding for a while, so if you're with her she's obviously not a complete moron - you obviously do trust her opinion if you're paying her money.

While it may be a pain issue, if she's saying that you need to be a little more assertive with him -- I tend to go with the trainer. The horse may hurt, but it's not an excuse to be an ass and it's certainly not a good time to allow him to "get away" with things. I don't care how badly my horses hurt - they don't get to lash out and put me in danger. Likewise, I am completely sympathetic if your guy is in pain, but it doesn't mean that it's an EXCUSE to be a jerk. Be sure that your sympathy for your horse isn't impacting your handling of him.

Good luck!