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Landing bucking when following another horse o/f on trails & in the field

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  • Landing bucking when following another horse o/f on trails & in the field

    Someone on the eventing board suggested I post this 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!
    "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse..." ~Revelation 19:11

  • #2
    Playing leap frog and riding circles around one another, riding away and back to each other. Begin all of these exercises at whatever pace/distance your horse has the confidence for. Don't get greedy and try for too much in a day.

    When jumping, do you jump a course or do you work over one jump several times? Have you played with what's his happy distance? He probably just needs you to slow down a bit and get a chance to learn what's ok and what's not.

    Is the bucking one stride after the jump, how many times??

    Being ready with a hard job immediately after the jump may also prove a good deterrent to bad behavior. Work on what will engage is mind and move his feet in a way that makes bucking harder for him to do. Get him to reliably do this movement without stress and then use it when he misbehaves along with a strong growl.

    You may have to work on his confidence in general before jumping in a group situation again.

    Along with the added work and growl, if he does a great job, END AT ONCE, and heap lots of praise on him.

    I'm sure others will chime in too, best of luck.


    • #3
      I'll second what jawa wrote, except I'd say hold off on jumping until he's improved on the flat - then add in jumping, repeating the leap frogging exercises over fences.

      Take it one step at a time.
      Start out each session/ride with a plan. If you are going out with just one horse, just leap frog with that one horse - do it at a walk or at a trot. Relax relax relax. Make it no big deal. The entire ride/exercise should be easy peasy, relaxed, loose or light contact, and safe.

      If it means that your riding buddy takes 10 steps forward, that's fine. If it's 4, that's fine too. The goal is that your horse is settled and calm, and walks quietly to catch up to his buddy. Calm, focused, relaxed.

      Next time, you take a few steps ahead of the other horse. The goal being that your horse is quiet and allows his buddy to catch up, without fidgeting or getting worried.

      As the horse gets used to the notion that he's not going to get eaten by a tiger if he's left... add another horse into the equation. You two stay behind, one horse goes ahead a little. Same exercise. Then you catch up. Then your buddy catches up. Then you go ahead, then your buddy catches up, then the other buddy catches up. Then two of you move off, one buddy catches up. One or two move ahead, then you catch up.

      Eventually what you want to have happen is that horses can go ahead of him, gallop pass him and come up from behind him without him getting pissed, anxious or frightened.

      All this is done on the flat, and the leap frogging exercises can be done with two horses or twenty. Doesn't matter.

      Once you are both confident, then you can add in a little hop over a log. Same exercises, same leapfrogging, but now it's over obstacles. Build on that.

      The goal is developing confidence and obedience. Distinguish between fear/anxiousness, and true disobedience. I'd not punish fear or fretting - I'd only punish a true disobedience. You know the horse best.

      Another exercise that might help is to try and give the horse something to do instead of standing still. Woods are good for this, as you can walk between and around trees quietly, to keep the horse's mind on doing something rather than trying to insist he remain still.

      So if he's doing better about being left (no bucking or other dangerous behavior) but he's fretting a little, weaving in and out of trees might keep his mind off things - give a chance to stand still - but the moment he frets start weaving around the trees again.

      Eventually a light will go off and he'll figure out that standing quietly is much easier than being made to work.

      He'll also figure out that maybe there is no boogey man or tiger hiding in the bushes. Really.

      I hope that makes sense - and I hope it helps.
      Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
      Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
      -Rudyard Kipling


      • Original Poster

        Thanks so much for the suggestions!

        We had a pretty good learning day yesterday - started out in the fields and then on the trails swapping out on which horse leads, separated on the trail and came back together several times, let some space come between the two horses so that the buddy horse would be out of sight around a bend.

        Walked over tiny jumps calmly as the horse ahead cantered over them. He was great with all of that, lots of pats and praises. No issues at all.

        Worked up to trotting and cantering a couple of jumps while following his buddy, and only had 1 bucking episode. I made him keep moving forward through the bucking with a growl, whap and kick, and worked in a circle in a nearby clearing immediately after the bucking, then did the "line" of jumps (small logs) through again, and no bucking!

        Will continue with the leading/following/veering away from each other exercises! After reading your posts it made me realize we've just been following the leader every time out.
        "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse..." ~Revelation 19:11


        • #5
          just my simple 2 cents!!

          Mind you I'm not a good rider but....in my humble experience...sometimes they buck on landing if you're clutching too much for them and they wanna go on fast and you're trying to control them some. Had one that'd shake his head and buck if I was holding onto his mouth too much. Kinda like "Get off my mouth and let me go on!!" He was "enthusiastic" about moving on afterwards and I felt outa control and didn't like it....had to compromise. He started rushing some too in anticipation of being held up on the other side.....I dunno but sometimes they get less anxious and go on calmly when we leave them alone to do their job. OH...and shorten up a hole or 2 so you can ride them out.!!!