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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Bucking when being first ridden and is 'green'

Dear Franklin,

I've gotten a lot of good advice from your website but didn't quite get this question answered: is it fair to keep a horse that is beyond a person's experience, or is it better to try to find a new owner who might fit better with the age and experience of the horse?

I purchased a 3 yr. old Spanish colonial Mustang last year (named Shark, because of his eyes. He was sweet but shy (and still is). The former owner worked with him after the purchase as long as she could. He is friendly, likes people, catches, trims and loads easily, and has gotten pretty good in the round pen (ground work, and walk, trot, canter). However, he remains quite nervous away from the house despite the fact he's been ridden a lot. Bought him 30 days of riding with a good local trainer, and the trainer became quite fond of him, but afterwards he's still nervous on a ride.

I'm almost 50 and new to horses (3 yrs. exp.) and I know that horses recognize experience level without even looking at you. Went on a ride the other day and suffered a broken thumb when he tried to buck (first time with me; I've survived several running-off episodes and lots of jumping sideways). I believe he got excited because there was another horse on the ride. He never got too wild and I would have been fine had I not slammed my thumb into the horn trying to get hold of it. I kept hold of the reins and stopped the buck and we are back in the round pen till the cast is off.

He's a super little horse and I just don't know if I'm being fair to try to hold on to him or not. Thank you kindly for your advice.


First off, never ride your horse without spending some quality time on the ground doing some excercises and ground games for 15-20 minutes prior to riding. This will generally get the ya-ya's (buck) out of the horse. This is partly why a round pen or smaller paddock to turn your horse lose in or lunge him in is handy. Frequently horses jump and buck because the have a 'cold back' under the saddle and this is uncomfortable. Once they warm up a bit, this generally does not happen if the horse is well trained to begin with. So, never just saddle up and ride. Warm your horse up first.

I generally suggest a mature, very experienced horse for an inexperienced human. So often humans buy horses as an 'emotional' buy. They fall in love with the look or energy of the horse. They leave their brain and reason somewhere else when encountering a lovely horse. This may be the worst horse for them imaginable but they never think of that fact. That being said, it is possible for you to get the experience and training you lack from someone like me, a local trainer, instructional tapes and DVD's (I offer them through my website like other trainers) and even the telephone coaching I offer (which is very effective and convenient). A lot depends on your availability of time to put in with this horse and your willingsness to take instruction and learning abilities. Its your call on whether to keep this horse. If you want to just ride occasionally, perhaps a more mature, bomb proof horse would be better. If you really want to learn something about horses and have them be a bigger part of your life, you may just do so by getting into the training of this horse by learning it yourself. Let me know if what I have said interests you.

Sincerely, Franklin

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