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I think I bought a dud (bucking)

Dear, Franklin

I am serching for help I have been riding horses and caring for horses since I was 15. I am now 21 and have recently purchased an 11 year old Morgan gelding from the woman I work for. I have been riding him for the past two years, since she lost her leg in a farming accident and he had been a dream. But now that the transfer has taken place he has started acting up alot leaving me with buyers remorse. We had him checked out at sale and he is perfectly healthy but now he is giving me viscious bucking whenever we canter on the trail and if we go to slow in the arena he acts randy and won't listen. He has also taken to trying to dominate me at every whim I am getting frustrated and my dream of owning my first horse has turned into a nightmare.

Can you help?

Hi Aubrey,

Usually I would say a horse will only rise to the level of the human with it. It will only be ridden at the level of the rider. But as you have been riding this horse for two years, you should have a pretty good relationship with him. Please consider that perhaps your equine skills are lacking in specific areas and your horse knows where you are vulnerable. This knowledge makes the horse fend for itself because it doesn't trust the human with it. You horse is not being bad, just being a horse. If you have removed the horse from a location where it was for a while, this could be another factor in what is happening as the horse is probably unsettled with its new surroundings. I do not know this as you did not say. It is always a good idea to do 15 minutes or so of ground work before riding a horse. This way you'll know very fast if the horse has any bucks in him. Warming up a horse before riding it is always a good idea. If you are giving this horse too rich a diet, this can cause him to have too much energy for his level of activity and will prompt the bucking. If your saddle is piching him at all, that will promot bucking. If you are unbalanced as a rider, that can prompt bucking. If he needs dental work, this can be a factor as well. There is a lot to consider. The horse trying to dominate is only doing that because of a lack of confident and appropriate leadership by the human with it. They do things because they can sometimes. They survive and thrive in a herd because their roles are very well established. There are bullies within the herd. Just like with humans. There are easy tools and techniques for fending off an aggressive horse. I have a good DVD on my shopping corral that show how to deal with a pushy, aggressive horse relatively easily. You do not need strength. Skill and precision is what is required. Understanding and knowledge are also needed. I know you have been caring for hroses and riding for a few years. I am nearly 60 and still learning from horses. So, be skillful, knowledgeable, precise and give this your best. You will become a better horseperson if you do.

Horses tell the truth in their behavior. Horses are never bad. They misundertsand, they have fear of many things and truly will only rise to the level of the human's horsemanship. Perhaps there is something you are missing? Something you have overlooked. As the behavior is new, I think something changed for the horse and for the worse. Without a lot more detailed info, I don't know what else to say. Good Luck and I hope it gets better for you. Remember if the horse was good for you for those two years you rode it and nothing has changed except ownership, you have missed something that is a big issue for the horse. It is not the horse's fault. Cut yourselves some slack. Do more ground work, discover more about gentle training techniques and problem solving, get a really tight bond going, build trust (trust is established by you being trustworthy). Be consistent, skillful, precise in requests, never punish, only lead/ guide/ and seek to teach appropriately. This is what builds trust and partnership. The horse is not doing anything to you personally. It is merely responding to something in its enviornment and world that you have overlooked. Good Luck.

Sincerely, Franklin

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