If your horse rears, there is a risk that you will dismount, fall, or be struck by the horse, and the horse can lose balance, fall, and injure itself. A horse that gives way while attached to a carriage can fall on the driver and passengers, injure itself and destroy surrounding equipment and objects.
Once the horse has learned this behavior to avoid work or to express frustration, it is difficult to stop. If you are a novice rider, it would be very dangerous to try to solve this problem yourself. Instead, you should contact a professional who can help you.
Why do Horses Rear?
It is important to understand why your horse gives in before attempting to eliminate this behavior. Before considering other causes, consider the possibility of physical problems. Pain caused by an ill-fitting saddle or harness and overgrowth of teeth is common problems that can cause a horse to buck.
- Belts: Improperly adjusted or too tight belts or girths can make your horse restless.
- Health problems: A veterinarian can help you find physical problems.
- Dental or vision problems: Have your horse checked by a professional for painful dental problems and vision problems. A horse whose teeth hurt or who can’t see well may rear up to express panic.
- Poor training: After making sure that the equipment is comfortable and that there is no physical reason for your horse to flare up, check to see if there are any gaps in your horse’s training that may be causing him to become frustrated, confused, or overwhelmed by what you are asking him to do.
- Lack of or too much stimulation: Is your horse eating too much grain and not getting enough exercise to burn off energy? A horse that spends most of its time in the pasture is less likely to let off steam by rearing, bolting, or bucking. A horse that is bored with its routine may also become agitated.
What to do if your horse goes into heat?
Most of the time, a horse will give a signal that he is rearing up, such as bucking, which will give you a few seconds to plan his next move.
If horse bucks while you are riding him, keep your weight forward and centered and try to lean on the horse’s neck to keep your balance above the horse’s center of gravity when he is standing on two legs. Do not pull on the reins because you could pull the horse’s head back even further, causing him to lose his balance and fall backward.
Alternatively, you can dismount. An emergency dismount is appropriate if you feel unsure. However, you must move away quickly so that the horse does not hit you when you dismount. The disadvantage is that if you dismount every time your horse rears, he will quickly learn that he can get you off his back this way.
How to prevent rearing
Only try to deal with a bucking horse while riding or driving if you know how to handle it properly. Here’s what you need to know:
- How to work a horse “long and low” by avoiding training that keeps the horse framed and collected.
- How to actively move a horse forward.
- How to tense (and release) the horse’s hindquarters.
- How to use your hands gently.
- How to sense if a horse tends to sit on its hindquarters and how to recognize behaviors and triggers that lead to backing up.
- How to effectively train a horse and give him 100% of your attention.
- How to keep a cool head at all times.
- Which parts can help and which can make the problem worse?
On the ground, don’t be tempted to pull hard on the horse’s head as punishment, as this can make the situation worse. Any training where the horse pulls back or lifts its head is counterproductive. Recognize what triggers the recoil and take steps to prevent it.
Any punishment that involves hitting, yelling, pulling on the leash, raising the arms, or brandishing the whip can make the situation worse. Punishment rarely helps eliminate a behavior problem.
Get professional help
If you are a beginner or even an advanced rider, you will feel more confident if you get help from a professional trainer.
Ask for references and check them out. Are the horses that come from this trainer well trained from the ground and under saddle or harness? Are the owners happy with the results and are they having success with their horses, whether they are pleasure or performance horses? Some trainers don’t want to work with a horse that flips out.
Should you buy or keep an unruly horse?
If you are toying with the idea of buying a horse and it rears while you watch it ride or test it, don’t buy it. Regardless of how attractive the horse is, rearing should be a deciding factor. If you have a horse that rears, assume that it is not the right horse for you.