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Canter: Bucks when asked while lunging, throws head when asked under saddle

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  • Canter: Bucks when asked while lunging, throws head when asked under saddle

    I have an 8 yr old appendix gelding, and he has had a year's vacation... Now back to work (for about a month) he will throw his head and pin his ears when I ask him to canter under saddle, and on the lunge line he will throw a big buck or two when I ask him to canter, and then canter quietly after.

    Before I go trying to just work it out of him as a behavioral problem, I was wondering if anyone had any idea if it could be caused by something physical.

    I'm going to have the vet out for spring shots soon so he'll get looked over then and I want to be able to ask her things to consider.

    His teeth with also be done soon (could it be his teeth? Im not sure), and I want to have a chiropractor out for him (although his back doesn't seem to be bothering him).. I'm pretty sore from our year off as well, so I was just thinking maybe he is too?

    Any ideas?! Thanks!

  • #2
    SI maybe.


    • #3
      Does he do it in both directions, or just one? If it's just one, look at the opposite hind leg (weight loading leg for the opposite side canter lead).


      • #4
        If you've had this horse for a long time, long enough to know him well, and this is uncharacteristic for him, then it could be something physical bothering him that a vet/experienced trainer, may need to look at.

        However, it's not all that unusual in general, for certain healthy horses to let out a few bucks when coming back into work. But they will usually calm down once they are in regular work.

        Horses can also undergo physical changes as they age that may benefit from supplements or joint injections.

        Feeds can also make horses hot and feeding programs may need to be reevaluated for appropriateness.

        I've known a few TB's who needed tactfully planned warmup routines to get their minds focused, and body's acclimated, before any work could be started. With those types, bending, leg yield, and just getting off their backs in a canter while staying out of their face, could loosen them up and help them focus. The canter transitions need to be asked for with light aids, and the "speed bumps" (small bucks), are just ridden through with out making any fuss until the horse settles.

        But if the horse is showing signs of lameness, uncharacteristic resistance, non-uniformity of the gaits, with significant protests to introductory work. A professional evaluation may be in order.

        These are thing that an experienced ride can usually "feel" out as they ride. But for any rider who doesn't have that level of experience, it may be a more prudent choice to enlist the help of someone who knows how to evaluate such issues.

        If you don't know, it's probably better to be safe and seek assistance, than to chance aggravating any condition you may be unaware of, that could be effecting the horse.


        • #5
          I'd have the vet and chiropractor check him out. I know my mare gets grouchy at the canter if her shoulder or pelvis is out of alignment. She doesn't buck but pins her ears and will toss her head under saddle. Once pain is ruled out it could be just a little extra energy or him just expressing displeasure at having to work again after vacation.


          • #6
            Is he well warmed up when you ask for the canter or are you still fairly early in your session?

            Be sure to really work walk and trot before asking for canter so both mind and body are ready. That's kind of tough on the lunge and another reason you get more out of riding them. Too many small circles is no help with either too mich energy or minor joint issues as well.

            Hard to guess whether its physical or he is just being a bit of a fresh brat, either way warm up properly and quit the small circles.

            At his age, tread wear usually starts showing up in the joints and management needs to be evaluated. Ask your vet.
            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


            • #7
              jonsey2, if you are sore after being off for a year he probably is too.


              • #8
                Bucks when asked

                Nice to have one that bucks on command. (Sorry, the English Major in me couldn't help myself).
                The truth is always in the middle.


                • #9
                  Are you sure your saddle still fits after a year off?
                  "On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."


                  • Original Poster

                    Mar. 21, 2013, 02:47 PMThoroughbred1201
                    Bucks when asked

                    Nice to have one that bucks on command. (Sorry, the English Major in me couldn't help myself).
                    That's why there's a "canter:" before the "bucks when asked" so I didn't have to write "bucks when asked to canter on the lunge, throws head when asked to canter under saddle". For an english major, I'm not sure if you read that very well. LOL


                    When lunging its fairly early, as I don't lunge him for more than 20 minutes twice a week. It's more just an I like to look at him moving and that's the only way to. It's only if I over emphasize asking him to trot he'll throw a few massive bucks and then smoothly canter off. Otherwise I don't even canter him lunging. If that makes sense. Just worries me that he pins his ears/ throws head when asked to canter AND bucks before cantering when lunged. Not sure if coincidence or related so I mentioned it.


                    • #11
                      Could be just excess energy for the time off. Anytime I lunge a horse if they are gonna buck, it's gonna be in the canter transition. And that same thing goes for canter transitions under saddle. If they have excess energy that's where you will see it first in my experience.