If you enjoy horses and spend time around them, then you have probably come across a horse that bucks. I don’t know anyone in their right mind who would knowingly go out and look to purchase a horse that has a hidden talent like bucking, yet we end up with one in our pasture at one time or another (of course, this does not include rodeo promoters).
What can you do when you find you have a bucking horse? Fix it, or forget it. Passing a confirmed bucking horse onto an unsuspecting buyer is unethical and dangerous. I urge anyone with such a horse to be honest with the buyer. If you choose to say nothing and someone gets hurt, it is on you.
A horse will buck for various reasons. There are some video’s and articles on the internet that place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the handler, but this is far from true. The author insists that if your horse bucks it is your fault. This is complete rubbish. I have been breeding, raising, and showing horses for forty years. I have also owned my fair share of bucking horses, through no fault of my own.
A horse will buck simply out of habit, it may buck when asked to do something it doesn’t care to do, I’ve witnessed a horse that would buck if you rode it down the rode and came upon a telephone pole! The telephone pole was this horse’s cue to buck! Very odd.
How the bucking is dealt with is a different story. Dealing with bucking is in the hands of the handler, just like any other issue a horse has, the handler needs to handle it! Causing the buck, well that is not always the handler’s doing.
Bucking can be caused by handlers and by outside factors. The following are some first step checkpoints when dealing with a bucking horse:
- Is any of the tack your using Ill-fitting?
- Check for burs stuck in the saddle pad, or any other pokey object stuck in the fuzz.
- Check your second cinch, is it too tight? A tight second cinch is how the rodeo’s make a horse buck! Don’t do it to your pleasure riding horse! Look at the second cinch in the photo’s. Tight for buck.
- Is the horse experiencing back pain. You should be able to run your fingers along the horses spine from the pole (just behind the ears) all the way to his tail without the horse flinching at all. A sore spot will cause the back to dip away from your hand, even slightly matters, or the horse will move away from you, or he may swing his head towards you in an aggressive manner. If your hand causes a reaction of any sort just imagine what a saddle would do to that tender spot!
- When you clean the hooves pay attention to the heat coming off of the hoof as you hold it. Is it hotter than usual? Is there a foreign object wedged into the hoof or frog? Is there any damage to the soft flesh or bony edges?
- Is the bridle fit correctly? How about the bit? Does the horse have wolf teeth still? Is the bit pinching the sides of his lips?
- Is the rider an inexperienced pain in the ass yanking on the reins for no reason? Kicking the horse for no reason? Generally irritating the horse?
- Does this horse have a bad attitude from years of incorrect training, riding or abuse?
This list is just a starting point. The list of reasons can go on and on!
What I want to share with you here is a preventative measure that may reduce or eliminate bucking in a horse once all outside factors have been eliminated.
This is something I came up with after years of contemplating how to stop a horse from bucking. I’ve tried the usual tricks: sit it out, push the horse forward, spin the horse, put a 100 lb bucking saddle with weights attached until he can’t buck (this one actually worked for a pony, but we used a 50 lb saddle and a large rider). I found this set-up to be successful for the occasional bucking horse:
- Find a 6′ piece of heavy cord, like 550 lb. military paracord type III. It needs to be thin yet strong (Below you’ll find the kind I used.).
- Either with the bridle on the horse or just holding it, pass one end of the cord through the lowest part of the shank of the bit.
- Take it up to where there’s a hole at the point where the bit enters the horse’s mouth. From the outside, pass the cord through the hole.
- Bring the cord up to the brow band and slide it through the inside of the brow band.
- Pull the cord up and over the poll (top of horses head) making sure the cord is touching the horses poll and NOT sitting on top of the leather bridle.
- Now bring the cord down the opposite side passing through the same slots as you did on the first side: inside of brow band down to the bit where it enters the mouth (inside to outside on this side), through the bottom of the shank.
- Pull the cord through until both cords are the same length. Bring them back to the saddle like you would with reins, one on each side.
- At the horn of the saddle, tie the cords together in a quick release knot so they will reach the horn. Depending on how much control you want, you shorten the knot up the cord.
- Now, pull the cord over the saddle horn.
There it is!