Monday, June 15, 2009

Came off my Bucking Horse, should I get back on?

It has been my experience that when a horse develops a bucking
habit, it is usually because there were shortcuts taken in his starting process. Although there are many competitions that showcase horses being broke within a few hours, that is really not the best way to create a reliable and safe mount. I am not adverse to top horsemen showcasing their skills in this way, but if you were to ask them if that is how they would recommend a horse be started, they would all say no. Although gentling a wild horse to be ridden in a few hours is certainly impressive, the real trick is to make the horse a great mount for the rest of his life. Many classical schools will take as long as a year to back a horse. During that year, the horse is taught everything he needs to know as a reliable mount so that by the time he is ridden, there is nothing the rider can do, that the horse has not already experienced.

So now what to do if you are bucked off? Many might say that if you fall off a horse you should get right back on. This can be true for the most part if you fell off because the horse spooked, you were not paying attention, or the horse refused a jump. A rider can fall off a horse for any one of these reasons and when he does, he should get back on the horse and continue his ride. But there are occasions when I do not recommend a rider get back on.

After pondering it a bit, I have decided that after a fall, you should only get back on a horse under the following conditions:

1. Your are not injured or hurt
2. The horse is not injured or hurt
3. The reason you came off is NOT the direct result of the horse trying to get you off

If you are injured or hurt, do NOT get back on. Further physical activity may worsen your injuries. There will always be another day, another horse, and even another sport.

If the horse is injured, do NOT get back on. Further physical activity may worsen your horse's injury and possibly make him detest your presence on his back.

If the reason you fell off is because the horse engaged in actions specifically to unhorse you, then do NOT get back on. If he did it once, he will do it again. And the second time, you might not be lucky enough to escape injury. Furthermore, you will solidify yourself as someone whom he can easily dislodge and the bucking can become a habit.

If the horse develops a bucking problem, then the following are your options:

1. Train the horse to stop bucking and resign yourself to the time and effort it will take. Your horse has bucking as a habit and thus breaking the habit will be extremely difficult and time consuming. But if you are willing to do it, then it can be done, but be prepared to be in for the long haul. (and also be prepared to fail for that may happen too)

2. Pay a professional to take your horse for a couple of months. The advantage of this is that you are not endangered during the process. The disadvantage is it may be difficult to find someone who really can do it. They may just take your money for a few months and give you back a horse that bucks.

3. Get rid of the horse and get a horse that does not have a bucking problem. This is my personal recommendation. People often feel like they are giving up when they get rid of a horse, but that is not the case. Doing so does not make you a quitter. And this is not the vehicle to assert your fortitude. If you are not a professional trainer, you should not be expected to act like one just because you own a horse. As an experienced trainer I often get too wrapped up in myself and tend to think that everyone should be like me. I forget that if everyone was like me, I would be out of a job. You may have a separate professional and personal life apart from horses where you can engage in courageous, and dedicated behavior. So unless you want to be a professional horse trainer, or some kind of professional equestrian athlete on the show circuit, you should not be expected to take unnecessary risks.


Anonymous said...

You cover it all..sounds like a rocky marriage..
get a divorce LOL..

Tracey said...

Very good advice. Each horse is different from the next and some just don't respond to cookie cutter training and you need to go back and find the hole(s) that you left unfilled. And it's an absolute must to be honest with potential trainers so that they don't get hurt further in the process.

Mighty Murphy said...

My first horse was a bucker, we bought him in New Mexico and brought him home to AZ. It took about a month to figure out bucking was his habit and not spooking. I learned to ride it out extremely well, but it came at the cost that others couldn't ride him.

I think it's a good thing to ask before purchasing a horse... "Have you ever been bucked off by this horse or know of someone who had?" & "Does this horse spook?"

Thanks Robin for the post :-)

Geneva said...

Some people think a marriage should be a be a bigger commitment than a horse :)

Anyway, Robin is right
-- if your plumbing has a leak, you call a plumber
-- if your car breaks down, you take it to a mechanic
-- if your PC gets a habit of freezing, you get rid of it and get a Mac.

Live smart.

The Natural Horse Vet said...

Common sense & the ability & capability = R.S.

The Natural Horse Vet said...

Common sense,ability & capability =R.S.

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