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Why do horses buck?

If you’re familiar with horse riding, you’ll probably have witnessed horses bucking at some point.

A defence mechanism that comes naturally to horses, bucking can signal a range of emotions that your animal is feeling. The behaviour can happen when a rider is introduced to a new horse, or even just changing something surrounding their usual routine, but understanding why horses buck can help to prevent them causing damage to you to themselves.

We share a few reasons why horses buck, and how to stop a horse from bucking excessively in order to enjoy safe riding:

Why does my horse buck?

If you regularly experience your horse bucking, it’s likely that their body is experiencing a fight-or-flight response. This adrenaline-like feeling is evolutionary and is designed for horses to kick their back legs onto a predator and run to safety.

However, your horse is unlikely to be the target of predators when kept as a pet. The following factors may trigger your horse to buck:

1. A change in the environment

If you’re changing the environment that your horse spends the most time in, they may struggle to adapt to their new surroundings.

Horses that are mainly kept in stables can demonstrate a range of behavioural problems if their built-up energy isn’t being released. They can also be afraid of being outside of their stables, which can lead to fear-induced bucking.

2. Equipment misuse

Riding must be comfortable for your horse, so it’s important to ensure that the horse riding equipment you use is fitted properly.

If your saddle is concentrating too much of your body weight onto the horses’ back, it can cause sensitivity and pain in that area. This can lead to a horse bucking to disperse the pressure built up on their back.

3. Poor health

A horse that is not in good health is also prone to displaying signs of bucking. This is because they may experience pain in their body, which can lead to them feeling frustrated and kicking their back legs.

How to stop a horse from bucking

Why do horses buck?

Once you’ve established that your horse isn’t suffering from health issues, there are a number of steps that a rider can take to stop a horse from bucking.

When a horse bucks whilst riding, pulling the reins sharply to the left or right can prevent your horse from bucking excessively. This is because when the horses’ nose touches your leg, it cannot buck and can only move in a tight circle. This method is not painful to your horse if done with a sensible amount of pressure.

If your horse does buck, keep your heels firmly down into the stirrups and pull tightly on the reins. This discourages the horse from putting their head down – a method which can stop a horse from bucking. Keeping your shoulders down throughout this method is important to ensure that the rider is unharmed – those long, kicking legs can be dangerous!

If your horse continues to buck it may be a sign of serious health or behaviour conditions, so it’s important to get the animal checked by a vet. We offer rider insurance that can help to avoid any nasty injuries caused by bucking horses, and horse insurance to ensure that the cost for looking after your pet doesn’t get too expensive.

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