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Tis the Season for Bucking


I bought a 15 y/o thoroughbred this past summer. In the summer he was wonderful. He responded to the bit like a dream and he didn't act crazy or anything. Him and me worked as a great team and he basically taught me how to jump. About early fall he was having a lesson with another girl and he bucked a few times. He had never bucked with me, so I just assumed that he was feeling good that day or maybe the girl did something to spook him. I rode him about two more times after that before he went lame with a bad case of thrush. He was stall-bound for about a month until we moved him to a place that wasn't as muddy. It was about mid-winter before I could ride him again, so we started off slow- just trotting for about 20 to 30 minutes.

When I was finally able to canter, he was great. But one of the colder days he bucked with me. I ignore it because I was just thinking that he was happy to be cantering again, but now he does it on a continual basis. I talked to his old owner about this and she told me that he always had a tendency to buck during the winter, and then he is fine in the summer. Of coarse, she didn't tell me this before I bought him. I was just wondering if you could think of any reasons why he would do this? He is an ex-racer, so could that be something to do with it, or could it be that he has the highest rank in his new pasture? He bucked me off the other day and then took off around the ring like a bronco, bucking and twisting with his ears pinned. He did this for about five minutes before he trotted up to me and let me catch him. Could he just be playing? I don't know what to do, and I would really hate to have to sell him. Have you heard of any horses becoming "wild" in the winter and then calm in the summer?


Hi Sarah,

What an interesting dilemma. Always the first thing to check when a horse begins to buck 'out of the blue' so to speak, is for a back problem, foot problem, even a mouth problem. Look for something organic first. Hoof problems can inspire bucking as well, although that is rare. Are you doing your ground play before riding? This is most important as well. If you spend a good 20-30 minutes playing on the ground with him, while he is saddled, each time before you ride him, that really does help most situations like yours. Especially in the winter when the lower temperatures give the horse more incentive to want to get warmer or expend the excess energy that colder temps can bring. More ground play while the horse is saddled is called for in the winter months.

Colder temps affect different horses differently as well. Some horses actually don't like it. That shows up in their attitudes, which seem to change in the colder months. This is a real possibility for this horse. If his routine is significantly changed at all, that will affect his attitude. If he has to hang out in the stall more, that will affect him. They are just so sensitive, with greater cognitive skills than most humans give them credit for, as well as a wide range of emotional responses like humans. To understand the why of his behavior you need to check in with him at a deeper level. Try to feel what is going on here as opposed to trying to figure it out. Endeavor to feel what is happening for him as opposed to intellectualize it. Doctor's need to know how we are 'feeling' before they can help us. Sometimes the doctor tunes in to us as well as listens with his ears. Be sensitive, talk and listen to him with your intuition and your heart. Pretend you are an animal communicator and just try to glean it. Animals think in pictures with an emotional attachment to the picture. We all have the capabilities to receive these pictures from the horse. The process involves quieting your mind, stop projecting your judgments outward and trying to think things out. Just endeavor to be open, clear and receive. You'll be amazed at what the horse has to tell you. We call all do this. Practice. Try and keep me posted...

Sincerely, Franklin

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