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by Downunder Horsemanship

Training Tip: Overcoming a Horse’s Ingrained Bucking Habit

Question: I bought my horse Hank, a 4-year-old Quarter Horse, last fall, and he had a good start. I was told he could be a little cinchy and he had bucked before but he “was honest about it.” I found that he had some holes in his training—he was not soft enough, was a little reactive, etc. I planned to work on these issues over the past winter, but before I could he bucked me off and broke my leg. What percentage of his bucking will go completely away if I faithfully follow the Fundamentals? – hardwarehank

Answer: I’m not sure what’s so honest about a horse bucking; to me that’s just a sign of a poorly trained horse. Unfortunately, if left uncorrected, bucking can turn into an ingrained habit that can be very difficult to fully correct. To be perfectly honest, while the Fundamentals exercises will certainly improve your horse, without working with him myself to see exactly what’s happening, I’m not sure how much of his desire to buck will go away. There are several factors to consider.

If you are an experienced horseman with great feel and timing, the chances of you being able to retrain the horse so you can ride him are high. If you use the Method combined with your ability as a horseman, you’ll succeed. Even if the horse has a tendency to hump up while you’re loping him down the trail, you have enough feel and timing and skill to immediately correct his behavior. However, a less skilled rider wouldn’t possess that same ability and would find themselves in a very dangerous situation.

You also have to take the horse’s general disposition into account. Some horses are just sorry-minded and have no desire to work with you. No amount of training will improve their attitude or make them want to be a partner. Other horses are willing to please and just got a bad start and need to be shown the right way to behave.

The best advice I can give you is if you doubt your ability to be effective with this horse, get an experienced horseman to help you. That’ll ensure both you and your horse stay safe.

Have a horsemanship question or looking for more training tips? Check out the No Worries Club.