wikiHow to Get a Horse Under Control

Some horses don't listen to you, and others just get plain out of control. A crazy horse can hurt not only himself but also his rider, and the behavior must be dealt with immediately.

If a horse is so out of control that you feel you are in danger of getting hurt before you can get him back in control, do not hesitate do do an emergency dismount.


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    Relax if your horse is acting up while you are riding. Horses can sense nervousness and tension, and it will affect their performance. Even if you are nervous, scared, or tense, try not to let the horse know it.
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    Check your riding position. Are you clenching the horse with your heels? This may cause him to go faster. Are you yanking on his mouth or holding your reins high and tight? Both of these things may confuse and/or agitate your horse. If you are doing something like this, fix it.
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    Try riding him in a tight circle or a figure eight if your horse is still jumpy. Show him that you are the boss, but don't haul on his head. If you are riding in a group, get your instructor's permission to let you use the whole arena for a minute so you can get your horse under control.
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    Think about why your horse is misbehaving. Is it storming or about to storm? Is something nearby making a loud noise? Is another horse crowding him? If none of these things are happening, keep reading.
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    Inspect the horse's tack. If you find any of the following defects in the tack, replace it immediately. Check for:
    • Worn-out leather that might rub
    • Pieces of tack that are too tight or too loose
    • Sharp objects embedded in or rough edges on the saddle
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    Consider that the girth may be rubbing. Try a different type of girth and see if his behavior improves. If he is wearing a breast collar, see if it is too tight (it may be pinching him) or too loose (it may be bouncing around and annoying or rubbing on him). Ideally, you should be able to fit about four fingers under the breast collar. The bit may also be pinching his mouth or too strong for him. If you have a gently curb or snaffle bit, stick with it, but if you have a stronger curb, kimberwick, or gag, consider switching to a gentler bit.
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    Check your horse's feet for any foreign bodies or for any swelling or bruising/ulcers. These can cause the horse to not want to move for you.
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    Try changing the way you are controlling the horse. Remember, every horse is different. If you usually ride a horse that needs strong cues and you have gotten in the habit of practically kicking to make him speed up, consider that this horse may not need such an aggressive kick. Try using softer aids and don't pull so hard on his mouth.
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    Take off a crop, double bridle, or spurs if you're using them. They may scare the horse, annoy him, or he just may dislike them. The horse may not need artificial aids.
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    Consult your veterinarian if the tack fits and you're riding well but the bad behavior continues. Maybe the horse has a sore back or other physical problem, especially if this behavior is out of character for him.
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    Spin the horse in a tight circle if you ever feel like you are out of control on a horse. Don't panic! Just make sure your actions are clear to him and that what he is doing will not get him anywhere.


  • Do not leave your horse to get away with bad behaviour. If you let him he, will only continue to do so the next time.
  • Try to give a horse something to do other than the undesired behavior. For example, if your horse is thinking about spooking, just squeeze hard with your legs to tell him, "Forward!"
  • Sometimes horses will disrespect you because they do not know you. Take some time to sit near your horse and pat him. Feed him some carrots and groom him. Try to get used to him and form a stronger bond.
  • If the horse you are riding is a stallion, especially if there are mares around. Try getting a new location, or somehow blocking the stallion from view or scent of mares. For example don't ride a mature stallion in an area where there were mares around. It might make him frisky and unpredictable!
  • Some horses will respond with almost no aids. Just shift your weight and bring your hands forward, and see if he responds.
  • If you are worried about being injured but can't switch horses, use peacock (safety) stirrups, wear a helmet, and remember not to ride in tennis shoes. Always wear boots. Gloves are also a good idea, because they give you a better grip on the reins.
  • Maybe part of the problem is that you are moving against the horse and not with him. When you are riding, sway with the horse.
  • Get control by kind of making him or forcing him by taking your two reins and tug or tap gently. After he moves the way you want, keep turning him that way to get your horse use to that way. Then after about ten turns try the other way.
  • Do not struggle against your horse. If you are able to ride your horse in the trot without breaking into canter, wear him out so that his only option is to listen to you.
  • If your horse bucks/kicks/pigroots each time they do it give them a small tap on the bum with a crop. Only do it if there are no health issues.
  • With spooky horses (mostly youngsters) when they get scared when riding or doing something in-hand, talk in a nice calm voice and tell them it's okay. If you talk in a firm voice it might concern the horse even more.
  • If a horse acts up on you it is important not to get angry and hurt your horse as this will make things harder. Instead dismount and calm him down by walking with him around the paddock (where your riding) or you can try lunging before you ride.
  • Always reward your horse if he does something correct .
  • Lunge your horse before you ride. This will get out all the excess energy, and by making the horse move, you are showing them that you are in control.


  • Do not get angry with your horse, because anger can only lead to problems.
  • If your tack is the cause of the problem, replace it immediately. The defect will only get worse over time.
  • If your horse is injuring you, or you feel as if your horse is trying to, contact a pro. to help. Avoiding these behaviors can make them worse or very hard to get rid of. Behaviors could include biting at hands or arms when around or touching horse, when riding the horse turns its head to bite at your legs, when riding the horse will purposely lean or ram into a fence on its side smashing your leg(big one)!
  • A rearing problem can be dangerous if you don't know what you are doing. Get an experienced rider to school a rearing horse.

Things You'll Need

  • Riding skills
  • Soft hands
  • Unclenched heels
  • Helmet
  • Tack (saddle pad, saddle, bridle, and maybe a halter just in case you fall)
  • and of course, a horse!

Article Info

Categories: Horse Training | Riding