wikiHow to Stop a Horse Rearing

Rearing is serious, and if not dealt with serious injuries may occur for both rider and horse. Remember to always wear a hard hat (helmet) if you know your horse rears. Always wear suitable shoes such as hard boots or riding boots and never wear shoes with little heal or ridges in the sole.


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    Figure out the reasons for rearing. A horse will rear for numerous reasons, but for the most part this can be linked to fear. A horse will rarely show its underbelly, the main situation they would do this in the wild is when stallions fight for a mate. In general kicking out and bucking is more common, and when young horses are backed, this is the natural reaction. If a horse is rearing there may be a serious reason, maybe it was taught to by previous mishandling or poor riding, for example. Figuring out why your horse is rearing is the first step to stopping it. Pure punishment for its behaviour is unlikely to work. Staying calm and patient will. It is also important to remember that it is very unlikely that you will fall off from a rear and throwing you off is unlikely to be the aim in your horse rearing, they might be telling you something else is wrong.
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    Stay calm. Your horse may rear out of pure fear so always keep yourself calm and never scream or yell because this may scare the horse more. When your horse rears be sure to check his gear, is it painful, for example.
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    Watch out for the signs. In preparation for a rear, the horse will put its head in the air, and you can feel it become lighter on the forehand, it might even make a few mini-hops with its front feet. Take stock of these sorts of signs in order to help you prepare yourself, and take preventative measures.
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    Make circles. The biggest danger with rearing is if a horse goes up so high it falls over backwards. This will damage the horse, tack and more importantly, you. A good way to manage rearing is to make circles. When you start to feel the horse prepare itself for a rear, with one leg, press so that it must move to the side, and open the opposite hand. For example, you decide to move it to the left so you press with the right leg, and open your left hand to bring the head around. If a horse is moving sideways, it can't go up. Additionally, by bending the head round, you have gained some control over where it is, you have stopped the head from move upwards, and instead, the head is now to the side. If a horse can't get it's head in the air, it cannot rear either. Make sure you don't simply pull back with one rein, opening your hand is also important and give the horse a space to move into.
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    Keep it moving forwards. If a horse is moving laterally forwards, it can't go up. May sure you ride with long reins. This might seem counter intuitive as you are scared and want to keep control. This will make things worse, if you shorten the reins, your horse will raise its head, eventually its whole body. Make sure it has enough room to keep moving forwards. Press it on, and give it its head. Your reins do not have to look like washing lines, but they must allow your horse space.
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    Stop the rearing altogether with circles. One good technique to get your horse out of the habit altogether is to use circles again. This time, when you feel your horse starting to go vertical, make a small, tight, fast circle in one direction, and then quickly spin him round the other. Then ask them to 'woah'. This whole process should be calm. Undoubtedly, after spinning in two directions, your horse may be a bit flummoxed, this is okay, you have rattled their cage a little bit without any aggression. Once they stand calmly, praise them. If they don't want to stand but decide to walk, it if it calm, that is also okay. The main thing is to praise calmness.
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    Stop the rearing altogether by bonking their head. This should not be done in an aggressive manner and must be used with caution. If you can, once in a rear, use your fist to bonk the horse between the ears will confuse them somewhat and might bring them down and make them think twice about doing it again. This has worked in the past but should not be done by an amateur.
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    Lunging. From rearing and being ridden with its head in the air, your horse may have built up a lot of muscle on the underside of its neck, and not so much along its back. This actually means that moving in any other way is uncomfortable. There will no doubt be psychological issues to deal with too, but dealing with the physical ones might be easier, and will pave the way for dealing with the psychological ones. Before getting on it, lunge it enough so that it is used to working with its head down, and get it round and building its topline. This way you are not fighting a myriad of problems once on its back and things might be a lot safer. This will not always work, if your horse rears while being lead as well, this might not be an appropriate approach, but there is no harm in trying. On the lunge, when they rear, just push them forwards and once they and moving calmly, praise and stop the session and give them lots of fuss.
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    Seek professional help. If in doubt, call a trainer out. Get one that uses a calm, steady, kind approach. No doubt the horse rears already out of fear or from aggressive riding. More of the same will not solve the issue. Kindness does not mean they will let the horse get away with it, it just means they will treat it with compassion and understanding, rather than aggression and more fear.


  • Call vet if condition persists.
  • Consult a horse trainer if you're not sure what you might be doing wrongly.
  • Figure out why your horse is rearing
  • Remember that every horse works at its own pace, don't get impatient.
  • Always end on a good note. If you get a point where your horse is moving calmly, end the session there, even if you would like to carry on.
  • Ride with long stirrups.
  • When in a rear, push your hands forwards so you do not pull the horse back and over and lean forwards so that you can use your weight to encourage your horse to go back down. But don't go too far, once they land you must be back in an upright position. Simultaneously squeeze/kick him forwards. If they are moving forwards, it can no longer stay upright for very long.
  • Remember that moving forwards is key. If they are walking and you feel them about to rear and kick them on and they trot, this is okay, they are doing what you asked i.e. moving forwards. If they are in trot and they start to rear and you kick them on and they start to canter, this is the same. The main point is that they are moving forwards.
  • Remember to give them room to move forwards in the first place. Think of a horse as having a series of doors, one on the left side, one on the right, one behind it and one in front. You want to, in this case, close the right, left and behind doors, and push it through the front one by kicking the horse on. If you close the front door (by holding the reins too tight), your horse will get stressed and will likely just go upwards as it has nowhere else to go.
  • Remember that you are unlikely to fall off from a rear, the real danger is your horse rearing too high and falling backwards on top of you. This is in itself rare as a horse will try it's hardest to never end up on it's back, as this is a vulnerable place to be for a prey animal. Your real aim is to stop the behaviour so that both you and your horse can be happier.


  • If your horse is out in the field when he rears, he could be either doing it out of happiness or he could be doing it to show the pecking order to another horse. This is okay behaviour, let them have their fun.
  • If your horse does rear, be sure to back away slowly. If you're a child, tell an adult.
  • Never walk in front of a rearing horse as you lead them. Always walk at its shoulder, this way if it goes up, you are not in danger of being kicked by their front legs, which stretch out when they rear.

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Categories: Horse Care