Weird situation with new horse - rearing

Hi - I imported a horse from a very established and reputable barn - with a very reputable broker. Horse came and was perfect for the first 11 days - very quiet, not spooky super easy going - kick ride (yes we had blood pulled on repurchase). I am not a trainer but a very experienced rider in full training. 11th day I took horse on walk around property something he had done many times on the previous 11 days. When we got to the farthest point of the barn he looked at some rocks - he went up - and up and up refusing to go forward - big up not just bouncing. I bent left and right kicking to go forward. He ended up backing all the way up to a point where he finally circled and I got him forward again. I thought - he’s super barn sour. We fixed that by only going out with another horse - which works fine for him. Second time he reared was in the outdoor arena at some jump standards he’s seen many times before - I’ll be bending him in the circle and he’ll stop and go up - multiple times. I did manage to gallop him forward. Took him in the indoor where it’s close to the barn - lots of other horses. First 10 minutes totally fine - around entire arena - but decides one corner in the far corner of the arena was scary and go up. It’s not a go up and I can just kick him forward - it’s go up and I will continue to go up no matter what you do. At this point a “cowboy” at the barn took him over. Cowboy is able to get him thru the rear - said he has a hole in his training. After a few weeks of no rearing (with me or the cowboy) - I took him off site to a super event trainer - he was fine for the first 5-10 minutes in the outdoor but then decided the far side was scary and up he went. There was another horse in the area. It’s like riding a toddler who can’t calm himself down - he doesn’t stop. The event trainer - who works with many difficult horses - spent a good 15 minutes working to get him going forward - he finally did got but even he said “wow…”.

Anyone experienced this? I feel like this horse internalizes everything - he’s not spooky at all even in new places. I feel like it’s out of fear. The old owners said he’s never had this issue. We scoped him and he has very mild ulcers which we are treating. He had chiro work too - saddle checked - teeth etc. Thoughts? If I were to send him out - anyone have a excellent cowboy on the West Coast - more on the Warwick Schiller or kind cowboy side - that could work with him? We are all befuddled - the cowboy is great but he’s rough - I don’t love rough - and I’m not sure it’s fixing the problem long term. TIA…

How much did his lifestyle change with you? For example, how much turnout did he get in his old home and in what kind of group, versus your barn now?


WarwickSchiller (I swear this guy should start sponsoring me as an affiliate for singing his praises) but he has a great video specifically on a rearing upper level eventer. She learned it as a stress tool when she wanted out. He didn’t address the rearing but instead went back to address the earlier holes. May not help but i don’t think it’ll hurt to explore.


Are you working closely with a trainer? I have watched a number of folks develop new problems with new horses, because of something they are doing in their riding. Without watching you I have no idea what it is.

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Stop riding him until the ulcer meds have time to start working.
Turn out as much as possible and talk to your vet about the best ulcer diet.
Look into taking your horse to a vet that can do a work up including hooves, spine , and neck.

Ask the vet about testing your horse for PSSM 1 or 2.

I wouldnt send your horse out for further training at this point. Rule out physical/ neurological causes first.

Good luck. Hope you find an answer quickly.


I’ll have to watch this one, but I had a junior hunter that was similar. He went to a “kind” cowboy who was a cutting horse trainer and spent 60 days re-learning what work was and how to be a horse—including ranch work and being put on cattle. Never did it again when he realized that jumping a course of eight jumps was the easy life.


I strongly second Warwick (and yes he also should start paying me for advertising because I can’t say enough good things about the guy!)

Rearing is just a very dramatic refusal to go forward. Rearing happens when horses feel like they don’t have another option so they go upwards. What you have to do is fix the reason he doesn’t want to go forward. It could be ulcers, it could be some sort of pain, it could be because something is terrifying but you have to figure out what it is, and fix that and that will fix your rearing problem.

Assuming this is not pain related, which it very well could be, if you ask him to go forward, and he declines, accept his answer and work to change it. Don’t demand a yes if the horse is clearly telling you no. If he says that tree in front of him is too terrifying and I don’t want to take another step forward, then do not demand that he goes forward. Instead, work on something else, do some lateral work, do some circles, and then when he relaxed, NICELY, ask again. If the answer is still a hard decline, keep doing something else. Repeat that and eventually you’ll get a “maybe” instead of an “eff no” but reward that maybe like crazy because that is a BIG accomplishment. Keep up that attitude, and you’ll get a “yes” without all the drama.

A horse that rears is a horse that was pushed over their threshold. Your horse just probably has a very teeny tiny threshold so it’s your job to work within that threshold for now, and eventually it will get bigger and bigger.


3rd Warwick Schiller. I watched pretty much the whole series on his app about the rearing eventing mare (when my ottb mare was going through a rearing phase), it really saved us. There are a lot of “tells” before a horse finally rears. Knowing the little signs, and having some tools, can help you stop a rear before it starts.


I will be the one to say you are in dangerous territory. It is said that a horse has to be taught to rear. The aides to teach a horse to rear are kicking into a closed hand, which we do for dressage, however this can only be done with a horse that understands. You can not rush their understanding.

Rearing is dangerous. If he goes up too far and over balances, he can kill the rider or worse. If he lands the wrong way he can kill himself or worse.

There are millions of horses out there that do not rear. I really feel that you should put your time, effort and dollars into a horse that is a joy to ride instead of risking your life everytime you get in the saddle.

However that said you say he did not ever do it before, it doesn’t really matter because he has now learnt it. If it was because of ulcers you need to change your management. If it is because of your riding, you need to change your riding, or history may repeat.

Whether you continue with this horse is not just up to you. You need to discuss with your family, as they will be the ones caring for you if the worst happens. Is he really worth it?


Did you mean to reply to me? I wasn’t at all saying she should allow this horse to rear. I just wouldn’t poke the bear and if you know the horse will rear it’s all the more reason not to “demand” things that you’re not going to get. I try not to ride like that any way, but some do and they mostly do fine. That will not be the case on this horse.

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If that was a question for me I was replying to the opening post. Sorry I just clicked on the arrow at the bottom of the thread. I didn’t realise it would notify you, I will be more careful in the future and go up to the top and click that arrow instead.

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All good, I just didn’t know if that was directed at me or the OP!

We had an “A” personality type rider at our barn. She was very insecure, always telling people how much jumping/showing she had done, how much her saddle cost, name dropping, etc. Very annoying. She leased 2 very well-broke horses over the course of 3 years. Yet they both developed the same habits: very girthy, balky undersaddle, kicking out at her leg and finally rearing. At first I thought ulcers, but when I checked the girth one time when she asked me to ride, the girth was SO tight I couldn’t believe it. She said this was for safety due to the rearing. These were 2 safe, sweet horses that kids had owned and showed. When she was so afraid to ride them, she finally took a lesson with me (dressage) vs her jump coach. After riding her horse, I could tell she used too strong a leg/spur, strong hand and they just felt trapped. If they didn’t move off quickly she dug her heels in and squeezed harder and harder. She had no sense of timing or tact, yet I could get on, sit on my pockets and have the horses on the bit at W/T/C. You could ruffle the hair coat for upward transitions. She was yelling at them when they only needed a whisper, so they were shutting down as a defense mechanism. When she bullied them further, they started to rear out of fear. She asked me to show her how to ride them. I did. After a month or so, she could do well, so she quit the lessons. Within a week or 2, I’d see her in the indoor or outdoor repeating her old habits, and the horses started rearing again. Don’t know if this is the OPs situation, but I later heard that the gal at my barn bought her own horse…blaming the other 2 horses for their issues, not hers. Guess what her new horse started doing??


Rearing is to horses what biting is to dogs - a really terrible habit that they develop because it works! Horse rears or dog bites, and we generally say NO but in the end, the rearing horses or biting dog has the upper hand. The more they do the behavior and realize it gets them out of whatever they’re looking to avoid, the more ingrained it becomes, and quickly. I would let him heal up from ulcers, do a quick vet once over and then send him out to a “friendly cowboy.” Until he’s back from that, I wouldn’t do any under saddle work unless it was on the lunge line. The more times rearing gets him any smidge of his intended results, the harder it will be to break. Also, I’m sorry, that’s really frustrating with a new horse. I had the quietest young horse that was a saint in so many ways, but riding out, he was nervous and always wanted to go home when something felt scary. I learned to go forward in any direction when I felt the balk coming and then try to keep the forward past a scary object. I would reward a wild sideways leap past the object since it was far better than standing up and he got better pretty quickly.


I know what the cowboy will do. Teach him to unstick his feet and move by turning him in a sharp circle. Bent like that he can’t evade and has to yield. You turn until he yields then relax the rein and just sit. The old smoke a cigarette time. Repeat repeat the drill.

At first if he does sneak the rear in, before you can catch him and do ^^^ you reach up the rein on one side and turn his head and drop him, pull him off his feet. It will take a strong person to do this. A few lay downs like this and he’ll start to think about it.


Please don’t do this. The “cowboy type” would be the worst possible type of trainer for a horse like this. A horse can absolutely, still go up if you try the bend him strategy, but the bend will usually take throw them off balance and then they just learn to throw themselves on the ground out of learned helplessness. That’s only a good strategy if you want your horse to end up heading for slaughter.


I will be the skeptic here - I am reasonably sure that this horse had this bad habit installed before you ever got him. Of course the old barn says he never did it - they sure as heck don’t want him back. Before you spend a lot of time, money, and emotional energy trying to fix this horse, I think a talk with an attorney is in order.

I’ve owned some super spooky horses and none of them were rearers. It’s just not a usual reaction for horses, if you think about it.

Too dangerous, too unpredictable, no fun. Don’t know what your sales contract said, I know he was imported, but this is a sticky post sale mess. Seems like you should have some recourse.


Are you using the bit that he is accustomed to? Any change in cavesson or noseband?


Poor horse!

Have you considered having a post import Veterinarian exam done? Including vision, flexions and neck/back xrays.

I agree this probably isn’t a new behavior and IME this can be pain related. Rather than training Ide be Vetting.

Good luck.