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My mustang has started bucking behavior

Dear Franklin,

First, thank you for all the wonderful information found in the archives. I really enjoy it. Now, on to the issue...

I have a 5 yr old BLM mustang mare. I have had her for just over a year, sent her to a trainer for 3 months to be "started" or "green broke" and she just returned. He says that she never offered to buck the entire time he had her yet when I rode her she bucked me with a solid 10 ft of flytime. The bad part is I didn't have any forwarning. We had already been riding for 45 minutes, working quietly at a walk and trot. I did notice that when the trainer had her, he kept her severely collected, almost holding her head up. I am a quiet rider, gentle hands, full-cheek snaffle, no artificial collection or tie downs. I've been riding for many years, trained many domestic horses using the natural horsemanship approach, been teaching the same light-handed ideal riding lessons for years. I've taken many falls but this is the first time I've ever been bucked off of a horse. I have such high hopes for a relationship with this little mare. To be honest, this scared me. I'm not sure where to start from here. I don't think that sending her back to the trainer is the right choice to make since we ride so differently. I don't want her to be "heavy-handed". I appreciate any input you may have from here.

Thank you so much, Rusti

Hi Rusty,

I would suggest getting very good at having your horse do hind quarter leg yields and then do them a lot. You can do these on the ground first before you ride and then also have a great tool to modify any behavior you do not want from the saddle. If you feel the mre get hunchy at all, put her to doing these hind quarter yields and it will give her something else to think of other than bucking. It will put the horse's attention right back on you. Also, using one hand will get the mare's head up a lot easier than two. I will just jiggle one rein a bit to keep a horse's head up sometimes and keep its attention on me. Some horses, unless collected up some, will just be too 'loose' and then tend to take advantage of that 'freedom' to act out somehow (things like bucking or rearing). The horse is not supposed to adjust all the time to our style of riding. It is our responsibility to meet the horse where it is. With your horse this may mean maintaining somewhat more collection until the horse has some real time under saddle and carrying a bit. Over time, the horse should acclimate well as it does sound like nice mustang. A green horse generally needs more support and a bit more collection would probably give this horse that support. Loose rein riding is nice and will probably come along with time with your horse. But for now, I would give her what she needs, more support.

Thanks for your kind words and your question. I hope I have offered some useful suggestions.

Sincerely, Franklin

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