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Suggestions for balking/bucking?

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  • Suggestions for balking/bucking?

    Hi all,

    I have a 6 year old OTTB, adopted a year ago. I'm 53, riding again for 2 years after 4 successful local hunter/jumper show years in my teens & playing polo in college. (meaning:I'm a solid rider but not the bravest of us...) Currently riding my boy under a good trainer 3-5 days a week.

    My challenge with Worthy is bucking and balking. For those who do Parelli, he's a clear Left Brain Introvert. He is slow/sluggish at the start of a ride (better if I lunge him first), and is fine/forward moving when we're jumping (loves it!) or on the trail, but apt to react to a cue to trot or canter with pinned ears and/or a buck when asked to move forward on the flat. He's willing to move forward after doing tight circles (the easy way out) and I am continuing to do Parelli level 1 games with him.

    Does anyone have good suggestions as to how to minimize the bucking and balking? His teeth are fine, no back pain, no other health issues.

    Thanks for any assistance!

  • #2
    My first question would have been saddle fit. I know more than a few horses that will buck if a saddle doesn't fit them properly and causes back pain.

    What kind of cue are you using for trot and canter? I've ridden sensitive horses who will react like this if they preceive the aid to be "too loud". Does your horse only do this with you or does he do it with your trainer as well? Has your horse always exhibited this behavior or is it only recent?

    Comment


    • #3
      I'll let some of the other COTHers who are more knowledgeable in health issues tackle what you should check physically, as there is always a possibility that a physical issue has a hand in the matter.

      But, assuming it is not physical and is just him being a little opinionated and/or naughty, I would first check to be sure you aren't asking too loudly, as SnickelFritz suggested. I say this from experience - I am an adult re-rider who learned to ride again on a saint of a horse who didn't fault me for my loud, obtrusive aids. Then, a couple years later when I got my first OTTB, she said, "What the fudge, Lady?!?!" She, thankfully, didn't buck or bolt - she would warn me in other ways that I was being loud (like giving me WAY MORE bend than I wanted whilst pinning her ears or swishing her tail, etc.) and I was thankfully in tune with her enough to "get it" and lighten up. She's taught me to be much more quiet and precise with my aids.

      Now, if that is not the case, or if that doesn't fix the issue, then you may just need to carry a good, old-fashioned crop. Because, frankly, the whole sour-attitude and bucking thing is NOT called for and you should show him that it is unacceptable. You don't need much - my OTTB mare used to try to head-toss sometimes when I would ask her to trot (even after I quieted my aids). My trainer helped me to realize this could be the start of much worse behavior if I did not nip it in the bud. So, everytime she tossed her head, she quickly received one solid whack on the shoulder. It didn't take Pretty-Pants long to realize her new Mommy didn't like that. And she stopped.

      Again, this is all assuming it isn't caused by physical pain.

      Best of luck to you! Please keep us posted!
      ~*~*~*~Founding member of the Spotted Saddlebred Pals Clique~*~*~*~

      The equine love of my life: Gabriel
      4/6/1993 - 8/23/2015 ...RIP my big, beautiful boy <3

      Comment


      • #4
        My best guess is he is lazy and this is how he is getting out of work. You need to convince him when you add leg, he goes forward, period, the end. He is balking/bucking to convince you that maybe you should go on his lazy agenda rather than your agenda. The more he convinces you of this, the worse this behavior will get and with time and practice on his part, can lead to stopping at jumps, etc. Let him get loose at the walk and trot. If you feel like he is warmed up enough to do tight circles, he is certainly warm enough to canter. Ask to canter normally, if he resists add spur, if he still fusses or doesn't go forward, he gets a prompt spanking. If he gallops off let him go for a few steps before you bring him back. As long as he is disagreeing with you about going forward, he is getting punished. Once he goes forward, his reward is to be left alone.

        He needs to hear the message loud and clear that moving forward is non-negotiable (and will likely need to hear this message a few times).

        Comment


        • #5
          Does he do this bucking etc with your trainer?

          If all physical issues have been eliminated – I would say he just has your number. You said that you are not the most confident of rider, and he is testing you.

          If I were riding this horse, and he bucked in reaction to my leg asking for more forward, my immediate reaction would be to DEMAND MORE FORWARD NOW!!!!! Leg followed by a pop behind the heel with a crop (I like the wide, loud ones). He needs to learn a buck doesn’t get him out of work, in fact, it causes him to have to do MORE WORK. As soon as he is forward, reward – good boy! YES that is what I want – Soon as his bulks – NOPE FORWARD NOW!!! And I MEAN IT!

          You also have to be ready and able to ride out any bucks he throws at you in protest.

          Its all about making the wrong choice hard (bucking means work! Right that moment!) and answering the question correctly – more leg – response forward – results in reward (a scritch on the withers, a good boy – leg comes off so that it is not a nagging leg).

          I am not a fan of Parelli in any way (I think he is just like a smart horse – learns the rider’s weaknesses and uses those to his advantage). I don’t think this horse needs more ground work – if he is physically fine – he needs an assertive rider.
          APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman

          Comment


          • #6
            Great answers above. Have to add that the more parelli horses I see they tend to have these type of issues. Idk why but that's what I see. I'd lay off the parelli and get a good trainer that can help you through this. If there is no pain issues and the saddle fits correctly it typically is a horse that knows what he can do to make his rider nervous and get his way. Carry a whip and ask lightly and easy for forward. If no response ask a little louder if no response back up with the whip. Be ready for a possible fight at first but he has to learn to respect your leg and what your asking for. Also timing of the corrections are key! You have to be quick and assertive, no lag time, if the timing is not right on the corrections then it may confuse the horse more and make him worse.
            Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

            Comment


            • #7
              LOVE the answers you are getting here, especially from Appsolute who sums it up "he's got your number"! I am smiling because this was exactly my situation two years ago when I adopted my OTTB gelding right off the track at age 7 after a long racing career. I was just back to riding after 20 years off!

              He quickly learned that a buck scared me....until I realized what he was doing and learned to sit through them and ask for more. Then it just stopped. But Appsolute is right: you need to be willing to sit through the bucks. I found they stopped after he realized they were more work than they were worth. Same for the balking, more leg and the crop if needed. Like you horse, mine also enjoys jumping and trails and only seems to try this behavior early in a workout session, just to see if it might lead to him going back outside to graze. Since I learned to be aggressive and consistent he doesn't do it anymore...maybe VERY rarely just to see if I've weakened.

              Before I realized it was behavioral I did saddle fitting, teeth, and an ulcer treatment. No harm in treating for ulcers in an OTTB.

              Good luck and go show him who's boss!
              "I am still under the impression there is nothing alive quite so beautiful
              as a thoroughbred horse."

              -JOHN GALSWORTHY

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by rabicon View Post
                Great answers above. Have to add that the more parelli horses I see they tend to have these type of issues. Idk why but that's what I see.
                I have noticed this too, but don't know enough about the method to figure it out. I don't mean to derail, but I thought maybe I was the only one who saw this! Interesting to read your observation.

                I think the horse has your number as well--does he do it to the trainer?
                DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  You've got some great responses here and I agree that this horse has YOUR number! Please STOP playing these 7 games with him...he's a horse NOT a family pet. He has to learn to respect you and when you ask him to do something he knows it means "now". Sorry, but Parelli's "punishment game" is just, well, stupid. To say a horse doesn't understand punishment and reward is just asking for trouble. You can bet your undies that all of my horses know exactly the right and wrong way to do something and that rewards are GOOD things!!
                  Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SaratogaTB View Post
                    LOVE the answers you are getting here, especially from Appsolute who sums it up "he's got your number"! I am smiling because this was exactly my situation two years ago when I adopted my OTTB gelding right off the track at age 7 after a long racing career. I was just back to riding after 20 years off!

                    He quickly learned that a buck scared me....until I realized what he was doing and learned to sit through them and ask for more. Then it just stopped. But Appsolute is right: you need to be willing to sit through the bucks. I found they stopped after he realized they were more work than they were worth. Same for the balking, more leg and the crop if needed. Like you horse, mine also enjoys jumping and trails and only seems to try this behavior early in a workout session, just to see if it might lead to him going back outside to graze. Since I learned to be aggressive and consistent he doesn't do it anymore...maybe VERY rarely just to see if I've weakened.

                    Before I realized it was behavioral I did saddle fitting, teeth, and an ulcer treatment. No harm in treating for ulcers in an OTTB.

                    Good luck and go show him who's boss!
                    Yes, this above and most of the other posters. I have one also. We are currently at the point where I am pushing him past the buck at a trot and starting to work on the canter. I call them attitude bucks. He is just not a very forward horse and has to be pushed hard sometimes. Once he realizes I mean business, he behaves wonderfully. But it sure is scary making him at first.
                    The worst part of this is that he does know who is on his back and will act accordingly, so no amount of training by anyone else will make a difference once I am up there.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I concur with the majority of these answers. Does the horse do this with his trainer, too? Does the trainer use the same saddle/tack you use? Once saddle fit/chiropractic problems have been ruled out, assume the horse is being a brat and push him through it with a lot of leg and a big crop. I actually like a flat popper instead of a crop/whip for tough horses, because it is loud and stings a bit, but won't really hurt if you need to get rough. The thing I am talking about is two pieces of leather sewn together over a stiff spine, with about four inches left loose at the end that make a loud noise when you smack it on something. I have two, one is older than I am and is still going strong. This might snap him into shape almost immediately, or it could result in a bit of a fight. Some horses really would rather fight to get out of work rather than buckle down. I had a mare who would occasionally rear if she wanted out of work; she was never the kind to just say "yes ma'am," though.

                      I firmly believe in an ask-insist-demand system once physical problems have been ruled out. Ask for more forward, then insist with a louder cue if he refuses; if he refuses and gives you attitude, demand for more forward (here's where the crop/popper comes in). You may need to really smack him once or twice. If a fight does start, there is no going back and you must stick it out or risk making him much worse than he was in the beginning! Basically, if a fight does start even if you've been doing everything right, you must win.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        So I am going to say something here that really exposes how partial I am to TBs. I think that our OTTBs do this because they are super intelligent. Someone told me before I got him that "OTTBS just love to work". For a while, I thought I had found the one who didnt! Then after insisting he consistently work when asked, buck or no buck, attitude or no attitude, I realized he DOES like to work, he just needs to RESPECT it.

                        Learning to be a more decisive and aggressive rider has made the work ethic more meaningful for my complex OTTB. And in turn I have become more courageous. I truly was afraid of his bucks two years ago. Now, even when he play bucks when warming up for a show, I embrace the energy and just "go for it". He smooths out 99% of the time and goes to work.

                        So, here is my latest dilemma, and I know some of you will cringe. His new way of testing me is trying to bop me on the shoulder when I walk by him on the cross-ties. Like he wants to knock me over. I look at him and his eye is saying "what, me???". What a smart alec. I growl at him and smack him on the shoulder if the timing is right. Is he just playing, or trying to dominate me?
                        "I am still under the impression there is nothing alive quite so beautiful
                        as a thoroughbred horse."

                        -JOHN GALSWORTHY

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Balking and bucking in the less experienced horses are usually related to attitude.

                          They are just telling you "NO, Not going to do it and you can't make me".

                          Your problem lies there. The answer is same as always-horse needs to be taught proper response to the aids and rider needs to be consistent. Right now, horse thinks obedience is optional.

                          Two things. First is another rider willing to work the horse through responding only if he feels like it. Second is Dressage lessons to teach horse and rider proper use of the aids.

                          IME this is where alot of the NH programs fail-when you get on them and ask them to do serious work.

                          Whoever said the smart ones will balk or buck? Right on that one, takes less energy on their part and very effectictive in scaring rider out of demanding obediance.

                          Always remember you are safer going forward then stopping. Even if you are scared (and thats OK, we all get scared), you HAVE to ask them to go forward and they have to answer "yes maam"-not "I don't feel like it"

                          Fix that and you will fix most of what is going on here.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Loved reading this thread. I'm working through the same issues with my 5 year old OTTB mare. She was an angel when she was 4, but had 2 months off at the begining of the summer for some mild lameness, now shes got the mindset of not working EVER. She likes to leap straight up in the air to scare me and if that doesn't work she threatens to rear. I'd take bucking over that, but we're getting through it.... Good luck with yours!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I was going through this too when I started riding my coach's old horse. I had a WB mare was young but VERY tolerant. She got injured so my coach offered me use of her semi-retired former 3* horse. The horse has TONS of training. He is also bomb-proof for beginners, as long as he's not really asked to do anything "hard."
                              My first few dressage lessons were DISASTERS! Horse started out resenting the heck out of my loud canter cue (my WB mare would take a good thump at times) and he quickly figured out that hopping around and acting silly made me pull him up (stop working). It was only by learning to ride through his attitude (send him forward) that he lost the attitude. Once he realized that it was easier to go along with what I wanted to do, he quit challenging me so frequently. He still checks to see if he can get away with something once in a while, but it is short lived and half hearted.
                              The rebel in the grey shirt

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