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Bucking when mounting...

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  • Bucking when mounting...

    Help! I need ideas!

    A clients horse launched into a bucking spree as she was mounting yesterday. Basically as soon as her butt hit the saddle he was set off, and she had little hope of staying on. He continued bucking for about 20 meters before stopping.

    No idea what set it off. She didn't bump him with her foot, land heavy, or poke him with a whip or spurs (she had neither). Possibly saddle fit as she is borrowing my saddle while hers gets refitted for him....but he had been ok with the saddle before. he had had 5 days off, but he is usually ok with that (he is out with buddies during the day, so can move about).

    After she came off, she was hurt so couldn't get on, and I was not dressed to ride, so I lunged him for about 20 minutes. He was tense, and scooted off a bit, but no more buck. He seemed happy enough by the time she took him back to the barn

    So today, she wanted me to get on him. She lunged him first (in a different saddle) and he seemed mellow, but as soon as my foot was in the stirrup, he tensed, and popped sideways. So worked on getting him to relax about that. THen went to pull myself up to just lay on his back, but he leaped forward, and I couldn't stay up.

    Spent a while trying to progress through the steps of mounting and he was obviously nervous (to the point of shaking). Sometimes he would move forward, sometimes back.

    Ended with him finally standing relaxed while I got myself just barely leaning over the saddle.

    It doesn't help that he is 17hands plus, without much for withers...and I am not the most agile person!

    I was trying to think of ways to trigger the tension without putting myself in danger, but I couldn't. My usually trick of taking an empty shavings back and attatching it to the front of the saddle so it billows up while lunging didn't even trigger a raised head. Waving my arms behind his head, and across him bum while standing on the mounting block, also didn't phase him. He is too tall for me to jump up and lean on his back without using a stirrup.

    The only other time he has bucked since she has had him (he came in March), is when he started to break from canter, and instead of rebalancing and trying again, she flailed at him, and he bronc'ed and she came off. That time I lunged him a bit to help him settle and she got back on and was fine.

    Things that do seem to bother him: being stroked under his neck with a pool noodle and the "good boy" slap on the neck.

    He is 4 years old, and had about 120 days training when she got him. He is a worrier by nature. he has had an issue with stepping sideways when she gets on, or maybe a few steps forward, but had been improving.

    Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Either fix ideas, or just an idea of what is going on in his head so I can conjur up a fix.
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

  • #2
    Start him all over again....

    Check teeth, check saddle and check back before so doing.

    Do a lot of work with a good trainer who can assess the horse's movement and response under long reins and only when that going well, start to introduce light weight first by putting pressure on the stirrup and then by lying across the saddle.

    Use a mounting block!


    • #3
      Personally, I would have a good chiro assess this horse ASAP! I would also do tons of groundwork, and not even attempt to remount this horse until he has calmed down, and is not so bothered. Agree with a total restart, and use of a mounting block.......you can lay across MUCH easier, and with minimal danger, plus, if it IS a sore back, much less stress to the horse!

      Unfortunatly, at this point, horse has learned how to lose his owner, and not be remounted......
      "The only easy day was yesterday" USN SEALs
      courtesy of LCDR K.R.W, USN (ret) RIP, 4/10/09


      • #4
        I had a horse that did something very similar. Found out the saddle was pinching his withers.
        Moving on doesn't mean you forget about things. It just means you have to accept what happended and continue living.


        • #5
          I will be stoned for this, but once you have eliminated physical issues--make sure you have enough bit in the mouth to get his head up-my observation is if they cannot get their head down --they can not buck you off.

          I have used a tom thumb happy mouth pelham with double reins--if I did not need to use curb it was not used--mine went on the snaffle part--but when needed -the curb eliminated the head disappearing between the legs wihout drama or fuss. For mine -he actually went forward more easily as he was no longer trying to figure out how to get his head down to buck me off. Many will disagree -maybe your horse will hate it--maybe it will not be right for you--maybe some cannot ride in a pelham w two reins--but it worked for me and I was pulling my hair out--and it worked immediately-no more nonsense-and the horse likes the bit and is very happy and so am I. (I lounged first with it so mine knew it was there when he put head down to buck/play.) But my guy just wanted to run the show--so it worked for him.



          • #6
            You said he's a big boy....how tall is the mounting block?
            I wasn't always a Smurf
            Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
            "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
            The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


            • #7
              If this problem was nonexistent until she started borrowing your saddle, then I think that's your answer. If someone is brave enough, try getting on him bareback from a TALL mounting block where you can simply lower yourself gently onto his back. My mare gets cranky if I land hard on her back or have to crawl up onto her from mounting on the ground or a too-low mounting block.
              Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


              • #8
                Just curious, but is this horse a fairly new purchase? If so, the timing suggests that he may have been drugged for the sale and the drugs have worn off. Any chance she had blood pulled if this was a recent purchase?
                Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                • #9
                  after eliminating all the excellent suggestions such as saddle fit, physical issues, drug test, etc, I'd suggest approaching the horse as if he had never been backed before. Could be there are mild signs of tension as far back as placing the saddle pad on the back, which are being suppressed and erupting for whatever reason when the rider hit's the saddle. If the horse is totally calm and relaxed for tacking up and lunging at all three gaits WITH stirrups flapping, then I'd say start to think about climbing back on again. If you encounter tension before that, work through it the way you would if you were backing an unbacked horse. If you don't know how to do that, get a good trainer with lots of experience doing this to help.


                  • #10
                    oh yeah, and when you DO decide to try getting back on, have someone experienced on the ground holding a lunge line attached to the horse, and preferably in an enclosed space!


                    • #11
                      omare, I had a horse that could buck with his head up. At a dead run. But I didn't lounge with him first so maybe that would have been the key, get out the lawn chairs, lay back, pop a couple of Coronas and reeeeeeeelax.
                      ; - )

                      OP, in addition to saddle fit consider kissing spine. Pressure on the base of the neck on horses with this can result in bucking (with or without a saddle, BTW, so be careful.) It sounds like this horse is protective of his neck; the saddle change could be coincidental or it could be putting pressure on a condition that is gradually worsening so that you are now getting a pain response.


                      • #12
                        In the previous 120 days training, did the horse ever offer to buck? Are you sure this is a "new" issue and not the continuation of a pattern?

                        To be frank, you've both made a mistake in how this horse is handled during mounting. He should never have been ridden until he could stand perfectly still to be mounted regardless of his past training. So many riders take for granted that all their horse will do is walk off, but if you have a bolter or bucker, those few steps are all the horse needs to adjust his balance for launch. Given the vulnerability of a rider while mounting, it's just not worth the risk to tolerate movement. Your friend's injuries are a terrible lesson learned with regard to this behavior.

                        In addition to the various health checks (particularly spine and saddle fit), I'd start this horse over and expect him to be a perfect gentleman every step of the way. I would not get on him again without a longe line and ground control. And I certainly wouldn't try to throw a leg over until he was all but sleeping through banging stirrups, taking foot in and out of stirrup, bouncing in stirrup, leaning over, etc. If he's still going to take off bucking, he's better to do it when you're balanced in the saddle and capable of directing your bailout than if you're precariously hanging off the side in mid-mount.
                        "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh


                        • #13
                          "omare, I had a horse that could buck with his head up." ---

                          oh my goodness-glad I have not met him/her--mine only tried by gettting head down first--and trying really to get the rider off by having a disappearing head/neck and pitching rider forward. Can I say generally if they cannot get head down--they can not buck you off? :-)


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by omare View Post
                            I will be stoned for this, but once you have eliminated physical issues--make sure you have enough bit in the mouth to get his head up-my observation is if they cannot get their head down --they can not buck you off.
                            In general, correct. In specific cases, however, it can be wrong -as I discovered with my youngster. Forward, head up - if you can accomplish it - will minimize the bucking in most horses, but if you pull my youngster's head up...he will keep going - UP. Not fun. (FWIW, I had no problem bring his head up in a french snaffle - just "up" turned out to be not all that desirable!)

                            I had this "butt in the saddle - horse takes off bucking" happen with him several times. No back soreness, no saddle fit problems. Just young hottish horse "what can I get away with." Took him back to colt starter. She supervised, but after an initial bit of work with him, made me do the work. Mostly, it was not mounting until after doing at least 5-10 mins. of ground work - walk-stop-back-up-"disengaged the hindquarters" to get his attention and his mind focused on work. Then I mounted, prepared to INSTANTLY bring his head around and "disengage, etc." when mounted. It stopped him cold - but my reflexes had to be quick enough.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by omare View Post
                              Can I say generally if they cannot get head down--they can not buck you off? :-)
                              Theoretically speaking, yes. But you know what they say about theories.

                              I would say it's probably better to keep the horses nose up or pulled to the side in an effort to disengage the hind quarters. However, I can tell you from first hand experience that a horse with its nose glued to its elbow can still buck ferociously... in a circle. I have a scar to prove it.
                              "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh


                              • #16
                                spent a week in the hospital after a similar incident on Oct 26, 2001...still have flashbacks and confidence issues today. used a walker for several weeks, couldn't ride for months and still today have pain management issues.

                                horse had a tumor below the muscle just behind the shoulder blade that met with my saddle that fateful night. about the size of my pinky finger. didn't figure it out for several months and lots of $$$$$ ruling out everything else.

                                be careful and work to figure it out one step at a time. a horse just does not buck like that out of the blue....there is a pain issue somewhere. this can very quickly move to a behaviorial issue that you may never resolve so work diligently and carefully.


                                • Original Poster

                                  I am quite sure the horse was not drugged by the seller as he was bought sight unseen...the lady bought him and THEN went to try him. He stayed in training with them for another 6 weeks before she brought him home. The seller did say in the last couple weeks he had started to drop his head to buck when cantering one way, but we didn't see that here when he came. I trust the seller.

                                  I think you may be right about it being a pain issue....so tonight when she comes out I will go over him carefully. He IS very short backed, which I know comes with its own share of issues. The saddles just end at the end of his thoracic.

                                  The mounting thing before, just seemed like a loss of balance. She would mount up, then he would take a step sideways into the mounting block, or a couple forward, but then stop.

                                  The mounting block I have been using isn't all that big. I am trying to imagine something big enough to help me just lean across him...the fence? The problem is, if he is going to buck, I want to be clear of any large objects so I don't land on them....

                                  The idea of a pelham or having someone hold him on a lunge line is fine, but I would rather figure out the trigger and fix it before I get on, rather than stop it once it starts. Plus...hard to find a 7' pelham.

                                  Interestingly a training client emailed me with a horse they have at home with this same issue...so maybe I will have two of the same to work with.

                                  Hopefully I learn something new tonight!
                                  Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                                  • #18
                                    Mom's handicapped access
                                    I wasn't always a Smurf
                                    Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                                    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by CHT View Post
                                      The mounting block I have been using isn't all that big. I am trying to imagine something big enough to help me just lean across him...the fence? The problem is, if he is going to buck, I want to be clear of any large objects so I don't land on them....

                                      Hopefully I learn something new tonight!
                                      If you don't have a tall enough mounting block, go buy one or get someone handy to build you one. I have one of the plastic step (3 steps) mounting blocks that Dover sells and it's plenty high enough to get on my friend's 17.2 hand horse. And if you are short, get one built that is sturdy. The last thing you need to do with a horse that has fear or pain issues is try to mount from an unsteady surface....do not even think about the fence That has wreck written all over it. And consider getting help on this. Having someone hold him as you are working with him would definately be helpful. Good luck with him.


                                      • #20
                                        I had one do this at 4. Backed him myself, had him going nice and sweet w/t, sent him to a pro to be sure we had it all 'right', and he was an absolute joy.

                                        A week after he came back from the trainer, he launched me. I was too injured to get back on, spent the night in the hospital, 2 CT scans later they let me go home with all my parts intact for a week of bed rest with a badly bruised spleen.

                                        I eventually sent him to another trainer, and she fixed him, thankfully, although he did have one last bucking fit at his first show a few years later. She said his problem seemed to be that he did not like leg contact, so she slowly desensitized him.

                                        My advice, send him to a pro that specializes in problem horses. It may be a green thing, but once they learn that they can get you off, you need the best you can get to fix them.

                                        The good news is, my guy turned out to be a solid citizen who was a joy to ride, so if you invest in it now, you'll save your client, yourself, and the horse a whole lot of misery.
                                        Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                                        Witherun Farm