How to Stop a Horse That Tries to Buck

Two Parts:Regaining Control of Your HorsePreventing Your Horse From Bucking

When your horse bucks, he is often doing it as a defense mechanism. Your horse may be feeling scared or trapped when he tries to buck or he may use it as a way to resist you as his rider.[1] As a rider, you can try to correct a horse who is bucking by focusing on regaining control of your horse. You should also learn how to prevent your horse from bucking so he is not prone to this bad habit.

Part 1
Regaining Control of Your Horse

  1. Image titled Calm Your Horse Down Quickly Step 2
    Breathe deeply and speak quietly to your horse. Though you may find it difficult to take a breathe and be calm when your horse tries to buck, panicking will shut down your ability to process and react properly. Try to take a deep breathe and speak quietly to your horse by saying “whoa” or “calm”.[2]
    • You should also focus on keeping your legs long on your horse and your heels down when you are in the saddle. Sit deep in your pockets and keep your lower back soft. This will help you stay on the horse even when he is trying to buck.
    • Do not grip the horse tightly with your legs or squeeze him with your legs as this will just tell your horse to buck more and throw your center of gravity off balance.
  2. Image titled Understand Horse Communication Step 7
    Flex his head by shortening the reins. When your horse bucks, he stiffens his forelegs and his body. Getting him to flex his head allows you to regain control of him and relax him. You will need to use the reins to flex his head.[3]
    • Keep both hands on the reins at all times when you ride your horse. When he begins to buck, shorten one rein until you can see the side of your horse’s face. This will turn his head and force him to stop bucking.
    • Do not pull backward on both reins as this can throw off the horse’s balance and your balance. In fact, pulling backward on the reins will only encourage him to keep bucking.
  3. Image titled Find and Train a Barrel Horse Step 6
    Have your horse change direction. Once you have regained control on your horse by getting him to flex his head, you should then have your horse change direction. This will help to rebalance your horse and allow you to continue the ride.[4][5]
    • Do this by asking your horse to step inside of a sharp turn. Lift and open the inside rein, which is the rein closest to the direction your horse’s head is flexing. This will lead him into the turn and help him rebalance. This will also put less weight on his forehand and more weight on his hindquarters, making it more likely he will keep his back feet on the ground.
    • You may need to make him change direction several times by doing a series of sharp turns. Stopping and changing directions will force him to focus on your commands and distract him from bucking.
  4. Image titled Build a Better Bond with Your Horse Step 6
    Move your horse forward by putting pressure on his body. Another option is to try getting your horse to move forward so he stops bucking. This can be useful if your horse is energetic and likes to gain momentum on rides.[6]
    • First, shorten the inside rein and get your horse to flex his head. Then, hold the rein in the “open” position away from his neck. This will get your horse to move his shoulders and rebalance himself.
    • Apply rhythmic pressure on both sides of his body with your legs to get him to move forward. He should understand this cue and propel forward, moving onward with the ride.
  5. Image titled Hold a Horse's Reins Step 3
    Use a pulley rein if all else fails. If your horse is really freaked out and needs to be calmed for the safety of the rider and the horse, you may want to try the pulley rein technique. This is an emergency technique and should only be used when all else fails, as it can be hard on the horse.[7]
    • Start by shortening both reins. Hold one rein taut, but not too tight, and brace your hand against your horse’s neck or his saddle horn. Raise the other rein up and back. Then, sit deep in the saddle. Make small pulses of pressure with the rein to encourage your horse to shift his weight back to his hind legs and raise his head.
    • Once your horse raises his head, you can try using other techniques like the direction change or pressure on the body. Sometimes horses can react negatively to the pulley rein technique so it may end up cutting your ride short.

Part 2
Preventing Your Horse From Bucking

  1. Image titled Tame a Horse or Pony Step 4
    Do ground work to gain the horse’s respect. If your horse is not willing to let you regain control or is still defying you, you may need to go back to doing ground work with him. This will allow you to bond with your horse and teach him that he needs to respect you. You will need a rope halter and a lead rope to do ground work.[8]
    • On the ground, pull his lead rope until he flexes his neck. His nose should be pulled toward his stomach. Practice this on both sides, pulling the lead rope so he flexes his neck.
    • You can also stand in front of your horse and walk toward him, keeping the lead rope up. He should step back, away from you. If he does not do this, shake the lead rope until he steps back.
    • You can try lunge lessons, where he learns how to move softly and quietly around you, with no pulling. He should also be able to respond properly to verbal cues for trot, walk, canter, and whoa.
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    Desensitize him to frightening objects or obstacles. Some horses buck because they are frightened or spooked by certain objects. You should try to desensitize him to these objects during your training so he is not afraid and does not buck when he comes across them. You can do this by integrating different objects into your ground work sessions with him.[9]
    • You may have one person hold tarps, plastic bags, umbrellas, or poles near him while you train him so he gets used to their presence and can become more comfortable around them. He is less likely to buck at strange objects if he has been exposed to them previously.
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    Let him get his energy out in a round pen before riding him. Some younger horses tend to buck as soon as they get out of their stalls, as they are full of pent up energy. To avoid getting bucked while riding a young horse, you may want to let him trot around a round pen or enclosed area before you ride him. Giving him some activity on his own can help to calm him down for the ride.[10][11]
    • Keep in mind this option is best if you are a recreational rider and do not have the skills to try to stop him from bucking during a ride. If you want to be a serious rider or a competitive rider, you should try to learn the skills necessary for controlling your horse during a ride and regaining control of him if he starts to buck.

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Categories: Riding