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Need advice with new horse please!!

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  • Need advice with new horse please!!

    Sorry, this is going to be a bit long! 3 months ago I bought an 6 year old ISH gelding hoping to event with him. We had a bit of a rocky start, he was very nervous upon arrival (understandable given a long trip from the UK!) and had a sore back which, according to the vet who did the stage 5 vetting including 28 x-rays, was not the case pre-travel. I had the chiropractor/saddle fitter out and spent a lot of time building a bond with him and didn't ride until his back wasn't sore. He was less nervous at this point but still anxious with the saddle on his back, he also bucked me off 2x's, once after we cantered up a hill and the second time after a ~2'3" jump (he has a rather nasty buck!). I had the vet come out and scope him and turns out he had gastric ulcers, so he has been on gastroguard for almost a month now and has been making a lot of progress in the meantime. We've been working on the basics and focusing on him relaxing and seeking contact on the flat as well as building up his topline. (Just for a bit of background, he was bought in Ireland by a re-seller in the UK who jumped 1.15m courses and 1.4m single jumps and showed him successfully at 1m and in dressage but he is quite green and we have a lot to work on to improve the basics ). At any rate, I thought the bucking was behind us after the ulcer treatment, until yesterday where he let out a big buck after a fence (that admittedly I rode poorly) and I came off. At this point I'm feeling very discouraged, I really don't want to put myself in a dangerous situation and don't have a medical excuse for bucking (not ulcers, kissing spine, arthritis, saddle fit at least...). He's such a sweet horse and I was feeling really good about our partnership until yesterday. I've been riding 30+ years and have a 27 year old mare that I've owned for 19 years- I've fallen off of her less after 19 years than this guy after 3 months! I've been working with a trainer who thinks the bucks are excitement related. Is it unreasonable to expect that we can work through this or will this always be something I have to deal with? Once a bucker, always a bucker? I wouldn't mind if they were playful bucks but these are meant to get me off (and are successful!). Any advice you have would be really appreciated!

  • #2
    If you're trainer thinks they are excitement related, s/he is probably right. It sounds like you have done good work on the ulcers, chiro, etc treatment, but he has figured out he can "get away" with some silliness and it intimidates you.

    I don't really believe in "once a bucker, always a bucker". I DO believe in a nervous rider causing nervous energy and unintentionally setting a horse off!

    I would have the trainer ride him for you several times, partly so you can see how he goes with her/him, and also so the horse, if he is indeed playing around, can be prevented from doing so.

    Comment


    • #3
      get a different horse. So hard to be confident jumping when a buck OFF is possible
      Forward...go forward

      Comment


      • #4
        If this were a 10 or 12 year old, I'd be concerned about the bucking... but he's only 6. This sounds more like "WWweeeee look what I just did jumping that big jump so good!" kind of buck. I think getting some training rides is a very good idea. I also think maybe he needs to go back to basics on beginner jumping - lots of ground pole/cavaletti work and work on gymnastic lines with bounces, one and two stride to keep his attention and focus.

        Some breeds/horses just mentally mature at a slower rate. He may just need a bit more time to be a solid citizen.
        ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~

        Comment


        • #5
          Given how much money you've already spent, I think that it makes sense to put him in a month of full pro training and see what happens before you make the decision to sell.

          Comment


          • #6
            It would be a good idea to have the trainer work with him, particularly o/f. But I thin you need to be riding him as well, primarily on the flat, until he's push button. Three months is not a long time to have him gain confidence in you. It sounds as though the reseller essentially overfaced him but got away with him because of the rider's mileage. Now you have to get him to believe in you, and be relaxed going over fences.

            Then when you do start o/f start low very low. Do grids to start with.
            Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

            Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

            Comment


            • #7
              Remember that there is a widely held opinion that Irish horses don't always get the best basics in training. Why not give him the basics of flatwork from the very beginning before jumping?

              Have you any idea of how long the UK person had him and what basics s/he put on him?

              Comment


              • #8
                Yes...probably something you will have to deal with but it should get better with more miles and experience......unless you keep getting bucked off....then he could get more established as his go to move.

                A LOT of younger horses buck with excitement when jumping. Our job is to stay on and ride through it...and teach them focus. This is hard to do when you fall off. No one likes to fall off or be bucked off...so you do need to do what you can so he can’t get you off (if they get their head low....any rider will be doomed to come off).

                I think you have to decide if you want to work to get better to keep from getting bucked off and to teach him that isn’t an acceptable response......or not. And also to be careful that you don’t lose more confidence riding this horse or learn bad habits because you anticipate his buck. It doesn’t sound like you have had him long enough to really make an informed decision.

                ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yessss, flat work redo basics and when you restart jumping do low grids! A nice bounce grid makes the horse go forward, then add a few 1, or occasional 2, stride(s) between. Ride straight ahead and stop. Stand there and pat well done, keep standing and pat again. Then walk off in a quiet circle. Keep at that until that lesson is learned.
                  The cue card kid just held up an empty cue card. For a minute there I thought I had lost my sense of humor. --- Red Skelton

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Did you ride him prior to purchase? what was he like then. What is his feed regime? Do you know what they were giving him over there? Maybe cut back on grain, give more hay?

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thanks all, really appreciate the advice! To answer the questions asked- the previous owner had him for about 8 months, I don't know how much they did with regards to basics but his musculature was quite weak. I spoke with the breeder and they said they backed him at 4 and turned him out for a year and didn't do too much with him so I'm guessing the reseller pushed him quite a bit if he was jumping that high to sell him quickly. Definitely agree that we need to almost start over. He was going quite well and, although we weren't jumping anything high or often so this feels like quite the setback. For feed, I was told he was getting a handful of Alfa-A (Alfa Supreme is the US equivalent) which is basically chopped alfalfa with molasses. He lost a lot of weight though, probably from the ulcers and the stress of coming over, plus that seems like very little for a big horse so now he's getting alfa a (a lot more than a handful) and a quart of trotter twice a day, plus hay at night and grass for 4-5 hours/day. He's not a high energy horse though, in fact he's been the opposite lately though it has been hot and humid in Massachusetts so that likely has something to do with it! Again, thank you for the advice, am feeling a bit more hopeful we can work through this

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Maybe talk to an equine nutritionist, if such a creature is available to you? Feeding is an art/science that needs more than guessing how much he should have 'because he is a big horse'. Feed will influence his excessive youthful enthusiasm over fences.
                        "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I’m not familiar with that feed...but while alfalfa is good for ulcers...it makes some horses a bit crazy. I second getting a nutritionist’s advice.

                          Excited bucking can come with a pole on the ground for some young horses. Since he has gotten you off....I would put him in full training with a good rider who is similar in body type to you. IME, it does little good for a man trainer to “fix” a horse to be ridden by a smaller woman. You want someone who rides better than you but still similar if the idea is for you to ride this horse (if it’s to get him sold...different story). Good luck with him.
                          Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Jul. 9, 2019, 07:34 AM.
                          ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            OK so - Given that no one can save you during a buck as well as you can save yourself, if you keep this horse, you have got to learn to ride out a buck or two. Most people who can jump ***can*** learn to do that.

                            Whatever you decide, don't continue to get pitched by this horse, because he's going to learn to do it as a habit. And he's going to become better at it. Someone who can ride it out has to work through this with him.

                            What kind of buck is he doing? This is important. Just porpoising and/or crowhops? Easy to ride if you can ride jumps. Hopefully he hasn't become a wicked bucker. But if he continues to get you off, he will learn other bucks and get better at unloading riders.

                            If your balance tends to shift forward, in front of his motion, you are not only encouraging a horse with a buck in him to buck, but you are putting yourself in position to get pitched. Leaning forward even slightly puts your balance where you'll go right off over the horse's shoulder. Curling forward when the bucking starts is especially dangerous in a fall.

                            Sit up, sit back in the saddle, shoulders *way* back and *lean* back, legs long with heels down and feet somewhat in front of you. Head up, look ahead as you do at a jump. That is, riding fundamentals: sit up with shoulders back and heels down. Your balance and position comes first, but second is getting the horse's head up. The horse cannot buck unless he can put his head down, so learn how to haul up the head *to the side*, using tack to help you anchor a rein if necessary. It usually doesn't help much to try to bring his head straight up, need to pull it up to one side and that's the stronger position in any case.

                            You are already learning when he's inclined to buck, so you know when to be ready with shoulders back and heels down, with feet somewhat forward. If the instructor objects to this 'chair' position, then have the instructor get on and ride him over the buck-prone jump. You can also keep more control of the head and stop him from getting a buck started by preventing him from putting his head down. If you let him put his head down when he wants to buck, you are inviting the buck.

                            There is a former Olympic eventer who points out that most people come off to the front of the horse and almost no one ever falls off backward. So sitting back is the safe place to be, and that's true of bucking as well as other jeopardies. I don't know if she is still offering $100 to anyone who can manage to fall off over the back of the saddle, but if that is happening to you, you might look into that.

                            My last horse wasn't really "a bucker" but he definitely had a buck in him in certain circumstances that sound a lot like your horse. Landing a jump, especially one of the first jumps of the day, was likely to land bucking. Or, if I asked him to slow down before a fence he'd almost certainly buck in protest on landing. There were also what I thought of as "penalty bucks" when he was asked to slow down cross-country just when he was enjoying a good gallop. He wasn't a fierce bucker, just porpoising. He never got me off, and I was able to convince him that the bucking had to stop. It did.

                            As long as your horse is not a confirmed mad bucking fool, you should be able to get in control of this. But you'll have to be very pro-active to do it.

                            If overcoming this bucking horse is not your thing then don't allow yourself to be on him when he may buck. Get him with someone who can work him through it before he learns to get everyone off.

                            It is frustrating when people decide to push horses past their training and education to show how well they can jump. A good ISH is going to be able to jump, no doubt, so it isn't necessary to push to prove it. IMO

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              He sounds like an immature Irish horse who has had his world turned upside down. Hopefully this is just a time and training thing, I’d echo getting some pro schooling to help.

                              Id also try removing the Alfa completely - it really can send some absolutely nuts, he probably isn’t used to much bucket feed either.

                              What bloodlines is he? Some Irish horses are predictably sharper than others

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by headbrickwall View Post
                                He sounds like an immature Irish horse who has had his world turned upside down. Hopefully this is just a time and training thing, I’d echo getting some pro schooling to help.

                                Id also try removing the Alfa completely - it really can send some absolutely nuts, he probably isn’t used to much bucket feed either.

                                What bloodlines is he? Some Irish horses are predictably sharper than others
                                I'll say the same, as I know many people with little sweeties (or big ones) and mine can be bottled lightning... unpredictable. Lovely, talented, gorgeous, but inconsistent and easily offended.
                                COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                                "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                                  OK so - Given that no one can save you during a buck as well as you can save yourself, if you keep this horse, you have got to learn to ride out a buck or two. Most people who can jump ***can*** learn to do that.

                                  Whatever you decide, don't continue to get pitched by this horse, because he's going to learn to do it as a habit. And he's going to become better at it. Someone who can ride it out has to work through this with him.

                                  What kind of buck is he doing? This is important. Just porpoising and/or crowhops? Easy to ride if you can ride jumps. Hopefully he hasn't become a wicked bucker. But if he continues to get you off, he will learn other bucks and get better at unloading riders.

                                  If your balance tends to shift forward, in front of his motion, you are not only encouraging a horse with a buck in him to buck, but you are putting yourself in position to get pitched. Leaning forward even slightly puts your balance where you'll go right off over the horse's shoulder. Curling forward when the bucking starts is especially dangerous in a fall.

                                  Sit up, sit back in the saddle, shoulders *way* back and *lean* back, legs long with heels down and feet somewhat in front of you. Head up, look ahead as you do at a jump. That is, riding fundamentals: sit up with shoulders back and heels down. Your balance and position comes first, but second is getting the horse's head up. The horse cannot buck unless he can put his head down, so learn how to haul up the head *to the side*, using tack to help you anchor a rein if necessary. It usually doesn't help much to try to bring his head straight up, need to pull it up to one side and that's the stronger position in any case.

                                  You are already learning when he's inclined to buck, so you know when to be ready with shoulders back and heels down, with feet somewhat forward. If the instructor objects to this 'chair' position, then have the instructor get on and ride him over the buck-prone jump. You can also keep more control of the head and stop him from getting a buck started by preventing him from putting his head down. If you let him put his head down when he wants to buck, you are inviting the buck.

                                  There is a former Olympic eventer who points out that most people come off to the front of the horse and almost no one ever falls off backward. So sitting back is the safe place to be, and that's true of bucking as well as other jeopardies. I don't know if she is still offering $100 to anyone who can manage to fall off over the back of the saddle, but if that is happening to you, you might look into that.

                                  My last horse wasn't really "a bucker" but he definitely had a buck in him in certain circumstances that sound a lot like your horse. Landing a jump, especially one of the first jumps of the day, was likely to land bucking. Or, if I asked him to slow down before a fence he'd almost certainly buck in protest on landing. There were also what I thought of as "penalty bucks" when he was asked to slow down cross-country just when he was enjoying a good gallop. He wasn't a fierce bucker, just porpoising. He never got me off, and I was able to convince him that the bucking had to stop. It did.

                                  As long as your horse is not a confirmed mad bucking fool, you should be able to get in control of this. But you'll have to be very pro-active to do it.

                                  If overcoming this bucking horse is not your thing then don't allow yourself to be on him when he may buck. Get him with someone who can work him through it before he learns to get everyone off.

                                  It is frustrating when people decide to push horses past their training and education to show how well they can jump. A good ISH is going to be able to jump, no doubt, so it isn't necessary to push to prove it. IMO
                                  I love how educational this post is. Thanks OverandOnward!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Horsegirl's Mom View Post

                                    I love how educational this post is. Thanks OverandOnward!
                                    Thank you. Believe me it was a hard-won education.

                                    I wish more people understood that a horse's bucking skills and jumping skills are learned the same way - by repetition. And getting thrown off the same horse a few times is like having a little bit of ebola - get help now, or risk serious, even life-threatening, consequences, for both rider and horse.

                                    In high school I had friends (country ranch types) who thought their horses' tendency to buck in high spirits was funny (well it is to some extent). The friends could ride it out when it started, and a little bucking shouldn't be a big deal to a well-schooled rider. But these friends would play around with doing nothing to stop it when it started, while laughing, and within days those horses were much better at bucking with a purpose. And it became harder to get the horses' heads up and stop the bucking as the horses figured out how to defeat that as well. This change to serious bucking would occur in the course of *just a few* bucking incidents that weren't corrected in the moment they happened. Those kids were solid riders, but they were over their heads in no time. Soon the horses thought it was funny to unload riders at will.

                                    Those kids pretty much 'ruined' their horses for anyone else to ride first by not correcting the bucking, and then by getting bucked off a few times. The horses got in the habit of throwing a truly meaningful buck at any random moment from a lope or canter or while jumping. Or transitioning to a lope or canter. Or *coming to the top of a hill* - for some reason that is a bucking point. If the horse was repeatedly successful at unloading riders, eventually they'd buck whenever they were asked to do anything they'd rather not do. Or whenever they decided to go back to the barn. Etc. If bucking was allowed to continue over a long term, eventually it would become the horse's go-to move.

                                    People can be seriously injured falling from a buck - forgot to include that part. Bucking can also ruin a horse's future, as it will put a horse on a sad progression through hard trainers and hard owners. And maybe eventually the auction, or worse. IMO it is criminal for riders to allow bucking to continue because of the danger of eventual serious consequences for both riders and horses.

                                    Buckers *do not* start out as confirmed buckers. A horse's first bucks are just porpoising, maybe crowhopping, nothing radical. They learn fiercer bucking by repetition from riders who can't ride out the bucks and who keep repeating the same mistakes and getting thrown off. That's what I learned through observation.

                                    It is very frustrating to me to see riders with courage continue to put themselves in the position of being bucked off because I know that the horse is more likely to suffer more long-term consequences than the rider. Both horse and rider can be seriously harmed, one way or another.

                                    For the sake of the horse's future, as well as their own safety, a rider ***has to*** ***has to*** ***has to*** ride it out, or get someone who can. ***Do not keep getting thrown off the same horse, because it teaches bucking behavior, at the risk of the horse's future as well as the risk of an injured rider.*** Learn to ride out a small buck, it's not that hard and can save a lot of lives in more ways than one. Immediately get good help any time you're repeatedly getting bucked off.

                                    Sorry for the preachiness, but the consequences can be serious. That's what I learned.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thank you all! Agreed I can't let him get away with bucking me (or anyone!) off. I actually had him rescoped today and turns out the gastrogard didn't work and he still has ulcers.... so turns out I do still have a medical excuse for the bucking. Poor guy. Also got feeding advice from the vet who did his masters in equine nutrition. Hopefully diet and sucralfate will do what gastrogard couldn't. On the plus side I am learning a lot both on and off this guy!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Ditto to all already stated. FWIW I had a young bugger who also would slam head down and buck- My theory is it is hard for a horse to buck you off if their head is up and not buried between their front legs so I got rid of the nice rubber snaffle and put a two rein pelham (no converter) on him--I rode on the snaffle but if he slammed his head down to buck the curb automatically came into play without me even moving my hands and it worked as he seemed to almost be punishing himself.

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