Bucking: personality quirk or serious problem?

This got a little long sorry.

For the past three years I’ve had the pleasure of owning a goofy, quirky, chestnut warmblood. From the time I’ve owned him he’s had this habit of plunging his head down and throwing a few little bucks after hitting a pole or getting a long spot. It used to be like a running joke that it was his way of telling me off when I did something wrong (ie hitting a pole, or taking a long spot, or asking him to counter canter- which to him is a big no no). It didn’t take long to learn to ride it out, and so I marked it down as just a quirk he had and never worried about it. Over time though, it progressed to happening not just because we hit a pole or got a long spot, but also whenever he was excited, or forward, or we cantered a circle, or we went past my trainers dog sitting by the fence, or we were in a flat class with other horses, or just whenever he felt like it. It was brought to my attention recently when I asked a few of my friends to come out and do a “pony swap” day (I’m the only one who’s ridden him in 3 years). While attempting to jump him, all three of them fell off. One of them twice. So now it’s got me thinking it’s an actual problem that I probably shouldn’t have ignored for so long. He’s not in any pain, his saddle fits fine, etc etc. You can tell he genuinely enjoys jumping, which is why I’m conflicted. Is this a behavioral problem that needs fixing…or just him enjoying himself and something he’ll always do?

Any help/advice is very much appreciated, thanks!!

In my opinion, horses only misbehave for one of three reasons, freshness, miscommunication, or pain.


This is a behavior that probably originated from pain and became a really bad habit.

You can ride it… but how unpleasant it is for everyone? Falling off is dangerous… 3 people just fell off your horse, what do you think it is teaching him?

Your horse sounds pretty insecure/anxious and it became his way of telling you so and get out of work.

How do you know it’s not pain? Acid reflux, foot pain, eye sight…


How do you know it isn’t pain? What measures have to taken to eliminate pain as a possibility?

If he is bucking after taking the long spot, hitting a pole or counter cantering, that sounds like he is uncomfortable. My first response would be to have a lameness expert out to evaluate him.


There are horses that will get into a habit–start it because they feel fresh, and then it just progresses. If there is no physical reason for it, I would get after him hard for bucking. He needs to know it is not acceptable.


x100. It is not a badge of honor “I am the only one that can ride this horse.” Yes, horses have unique personalities and likes and dislikes, however, a well trained, “biddable” horse is not going to buck “everyone else off”. Just no. If it isn’t pain related, it is a behavior problem. I have a horse that will play sometimes after a big fence or if I take a winger spot… but she doesn’t try to get me off, I don’t want her to be a zombie and it is so few and far between. I don’t necessarily “get after her” but I do push her forward and hold her so she knows that playing after every damn fence is not an option. A little playing after a moment of brilliance or a mommy error- eh.

Find out if it is physical and correct the problem. A more seasoned horse bucking after a ground pole, barring anything physical, is really not acceptable IMO.


In retrospect, you will probably come to see putting your friends on him was a big mistake and continuing to put them back on him FOUR times was an even bigger mistake.

Do you have anybody experienced helping you with this horse? Horses only know what we teach them, what did he learn dumping 3 of your friends, one twice?


If he is bucking all the time, I think he is probably hurting somewhere. My now retired TB was quite exuberant when jumping and would often buck and play in the corners if he was fresh. When he was prepped a bit more, such as at a show, he never did it. I, too, learned to ride it out when he did it at home on occasion. The difference is that the habit sounds pervasive with your horse. Another horse we owned was a bombproof, beginner friendly type until one day at a horse show he inexplicably began bucking all over the place. He was older at the time. He wanted his rider OFF, and behaved no better when a pro got on him. He wasn’t lame at that time, but it was apparent that he had to be in pain. He stepped down from jumping at that level. When he was only doing cross rails, the behavior didn’t reappear. I’ve seen many horses begin to buck at the long one, hitting a rail, etc. when they are getting to the point that they are either sore somewhere or they are ready to step down a level.

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Whether this problem is behavioral or pain related (or both) I think it is a serious problem. There are numerous places you could start as far as handling it.
-Get after him much more strongly for bucking.
-Have a pro trainer school him and get after him for bucking.
-Try giving him some bute and see how that affects whether he bucks or not, though at this point even if it is pain related it may also be a habit.
-After gathering information on how he responds to schooling and bute, schedule a vet appointment to check for physical issues.

No matter WHY a horse bucks under saddle, it is important to handle it in a very strict fashion. Habits like bucking, rearing, biting and kicking can be extremely dangerous to humans so ignoring those behaviors because you personally can deal with them is not a good course of action. If you feel that a horse is bucking due to pain, then you should stop riding it until the pain is resolved.


You have posted about bits for the green Large Pony you also own that gets excited and quick over fences with you? Correct? This WB you have owned for years has always bucked at a long spot and has started getting excited while jumping bucking more, dumping your 3 friends, one twice, as they jumped. Do you use the same saddle on both or have one for each?

Some honest self reflection might be beneficial here.


Hmmm…almost summer.


There seems to be a tendency on this board to jump down people’s throats a bit when they say their gut is telling them it’s not a pain issue. Before I get flamed, I absolutely agree that it’s ALWAYS a good idea to rule pain first… but I also think that a good chunk of behavioral issues aren’t necessarily rooted in pain. Bucking after a long spot or hitting a rail doesn’t really scream pain to me, I wouldn’t rule it out, but it sounds more like freshness. I had a jumper that would get super squirrely and bolt/buck on the landing if he hit something. He wasn’t in pain, he was just mad. I’m sure in his head it was the rails hitting HIM, not him hitting the rails:lol: I have to disagree with the poster above who said horses only misbehave due to freshness, miscommunication, or pain. I think that oversimplifies it a bit, and I also think a big one that poster missed is work ethic issues. I don’t think giving the horses that fall under this category some discipline and tough love is a crime. Some may respond to it by settling into work and cutting the crap, others may not and need a career change.

That turned into a bit of a tangent, but anyway, if it really isn’t rooted in pain, I agree with the posters above who said it may be time to get after him about it a bit. It’s gone on long enough, and this will perhaps be a lesson in learning to nip bad behavior in the bud before he dumps 3 people in one day. This may be best done by a pro— I of course have no idea what your abilities are. This is where being honest with yourself about what you’re capable of will come in handy. You don’t need to be Beezie Madden to fix a bucking problem, but you do have to confident and have good timing.


The first thing you need to do is admit it’s a problem and it needs to be fixed. Every time it is repeated just turns it more into a bad habit. Continuing to let it get repeated is…um…not smart. It’s up to the rider to fix it ASAP, not let it continue. Whether by getting the vet or turning to a Pro, the rider needs to be a horseman and correct it or get it corrected.

For the sake of keeping the horse out of those low end auctions if nothing else. If rider does not own the horse, they should not keep riding it. That just perpetuates the issues and if it is pain related, borders on abuse. Somebody will get hurt if it bucks people off , take responsibility before that happens.


Mine likes to put his head down after fences. I was trying to work him out of it in a myler comfort snaffle, but my trainer had me try him in a happy mouth elevator. BIG CHANGE.

I promise you he has been checked in every way possible- it’s NOT pain, and his saddle was fitted. It’s also not all the time. He loves to jump, always looking for the next jump on the course, and we played it off at first because it seemed like a “he’s excited” thing. He gets lunged before every show and that takes the edge off, but is not like I can lunge him before every ride. Sometimes our courses are beautiful, but typically there’s just a couple times per ride he tries to play up. I can usually pull his head up and we keep cantering to the next fence just fine. 90% of the time he doesn’t even manage to fully buck these days. Also, it’s not like I expected my friends to fall off; I was honestly shocked. I was just trying to see if one of them liked him and could ride him for me a couple times. But it just served to open my eyes to a potential problem. I just wanted to know if it was something I should really work to fix, or more just something you tell a pontential buyer. “When he’s fresh he’ll buck after a long spot” that sorta thing. Kinda like selling a pony that’ll refuse when the spots not perfect, or who spooks at weird jumps. Every horse has something about them, right?

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If you want to sell him (or have other people ride him without falling off), I think this is definitely something that you should work on. AND warn potential buyers if the issue is not resolved or in case he reverts. Every horse has something about them, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to let bad habits continue.

I used to have a horse that I let “celebrate” after some jumps because I thought he was enjoying himself – generally if he put in a big effort, he’d land and shake his head or do dolphin leaps – and my trainer really got after me for that, because we should learn to focus and be able to land in balance to set up for the next jump or a quick turn, etc, instead of “playing” in the turns and taking longer than necessary to regroup.


If he has been “checked in every way possible” it might be useful to share those details here.

A horse that bucks will have a limited audience when it comes to sales. You’ll need to find someone that can sit the buck and you’ll need to find someone that wants to be bothered with a horse that bucks. Irrespective, your horse is worth less if he has a bucking habit.

Please be cautious if you are attempting to sell this horse on your own without the benefit of a trainer. You have put three friends on this horse who have been dumped. You will know very little about the abilities of potential buyers when they come to try the horse. The last thing you need is for a buyer to try the horse, get dumped and badly hurt and them come after you for a legal remedy.


I got fussed at too for the same thing! Coming to the next fence with your horse’s nose on the ground is not a good feeling.

I don’t think that the problem is necessarily pain related, if you feel strongly that the horse is physically fine and you’ve covered your bases there, then that’s fine. But this is still a serious training issue. This horse just bucked people off four times in a row, which to me = a bucking problem. This is NOT a horse that I would present as, “When he’s fresh he will buck after a long spot.” I think you need to fix this problem before you attempt to market this horse.

IMO this horse is currently not sellable. I don’t think it is ethical to market a horse that has just bucked several people off without full disclosure. With full disclosure you will have very few interested parties (and those parties may not even be suitable). You also could risk facing liability for any injuries that might occur to a potential buyer should they get bucked off.


My guess would be anxiety. Longs and rails make him anxious.New rider’s make him anxious. . Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing though: he might just be a really careful horse who wants to do the right thing. You can probably help his anxiety by resolving any training holes, and perhaps consider schooling in closed front boots and bell boots so the jumps are less painful if he hits them.

By training holes I mean making sure he listens well to foundation cues (rein aids and leg aids). I am guessing he does not as he doesn’t like counter canter. I find horses that struggle with counter canter were taught to canter, but the trainer never made sure they truly understood the specific aids for leads rather than just “canter”.

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