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horse started bucking when cantering & paws when tied

Dear Franklin,

I have a lively 13 year old Arab that I purchased 3 years ago from a farm where she was basically standing around most of the time. She's skitterish and I think she dumped a few people so she was left alone for a while. She has never had her back feet shod because she is so difficult to shoe (back
feet only). I have been doing endurance racing with her for a couple years now and she loves it. She likes to go. We recently moved from a barn where she couldn't see the other horses and she was in a corner next to a creek, next to a house with 3 other horses and a view better than my own! She is settling in nicely and we have begun to explore the new trails. Last week, on a trail we have already been on, I asked her to canter, which she did, when all of a sudden she started bucking- not bad, just a few rear feet lifts. I stopped her and we walked for a bit. Then we trotted for a while, and then I asked here to canter again. Again with the bucking. After the 3rd time, I decided not to canter anymore so we trotted the rest of the way. The only thing different I can think of is that I happen to feed her her mixture the day before we went out instead of after we ride like usual. Her mixture is senior feed, beet pulp, rice bran, vegy oil, salt, ex-stress vitamins, ferriers formula, and carrots. Any ideas?


ps. on the ground, she comes to me always - will follow me around and around the arena while I talk to her about my day. when tied up, she paws at the ground -

Hi Patti,

Feeding the horse before the ride probably did contribute to the problem. Sounds like a good diet and I can see why the horse may have had the extra energy to buck when you asked him to move out a bit. Something else that is good for you as a rider and horseperson is the ability to put the horse to a task that gets his attention back on you should he begin to do something you do not want. This is not punishment. If you can get good at asking the horse to do hind end yields from the saddle or when you are on the ground, I promise you that the horse will put his attention on you and immediately stop the behavior you do not want. This goes for bucking, biting, rearing, backing when you do not want or anything. Also know as bending the horse around an inside leg, hind end (leg) yields give the horse something to focus on other than behavior that is undesirable. Practice this before you really need to use it. In other words, do these hind end yields when in an arena or paddock riding. Also, do them in your yard and at the trailhead. Get good at it and get your horse good at it before you really need it to modify behavior. Let me know if you are unsure how to ask for this from your horse. As far as the pawing, your horse is probably seeking attention and/or is anxious. You could train the horse using its feed to prompt it to stand still and quietly when tied. Pick a time when you know the horse will be hungry. Put some feed within reach (use some alfalfa), only let the horse eat after it has stood quietly even for a brief period of time. Practice this allot and your horse should learn to stand quietly fairly soon. No food if the horse paws or jiggs. Keep me posted and the best of luck to you.

Sincerely, Franklin

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