Monday, July 12, 2010

Why My Horse Bucked...

I know exactly, precisely why my horse bucked.

What I don't know is whether or not I am up for fixing this problem.

We went over to Trail Rider's house for an afternoon of kids swimming, horse work, and BBQ. Trailering was without incident, just a little stubborn at the closing of the bar.

This detail will be ironic later, keep it in mind.

Once we got the kids swimming, we tacked up to ride. No problem. All good. Since I hadn't ridden Cibolo in a while we went over to the round pen and worked. I watched TR ride Vaquero, his Paso Fino. That horse responds to feather touch, and you really have to be on your game to ride him well. He's eager to please, but very quick to react. I remember him going sideways on me once because my weight was just a bit more on the right than the left.

Cibolo was being a pain. Not standing still. I checked for ants, anything, but there was nothing there.

We went into the round pen and he was pretty lousy. Canter was terrible. So with TR's guidance I worked on collecting him, something I don't know anything about. Slowly we got a little better. I'd say we worked for 15-20 minutes in the round pen and by the end he was responding much better, but was still not great at the canter - head tossing, head high, just a mess. Teeth maybe, maybe I needed a different bit, TR theorized.

I decided I'd work on collecting him over the next few months. It would give us something to do in the round pen.

We headed out to the big pasture and we were trotting and walking, just riding in a big square. After a good 15 or 20 minutes of that, TR went ahead of us by about 30 yards. I kept Cibolo at a trot. We'd already cantered here and there. So I wasn't worried. He was good, and I decided we were good to head out at a lope and catch up to that quick moving gaited horse.

That was it. The minute I gave him his head ever so slightly he bunched up and hit a dead run. I was startled, pulled slightly - seriously, slightly - on the reins, and his head dived down and he gave me the worst bucks I've ever been on. The first one caught me off balance, the second I lost my stirrups. But I'd be damned if he was going to dump me.

I yanked his head up hard, he still half bucked half turned, but I stuck it and turned him. I slapped him with the rope to make him turn, because his turns were lazy, crappy turns. He was startled, squirting out under me, but I was too mad to fall off.

I called him every name in the book in two languages. If he so much as moved his head I pulled him around hard.

I cantered him off across the pasture, away from TR. If we wanted to run, then we'd run. He cantered and we spent the next 20 minutes cantering away from TR and his horse.

So that it. That's why. This is exactly when he freaks out. The other horse is too far away, I release him enough to close some distance, and he explodes.

Which makes for a lousy experience. I can't imagine how this would work on an endurance ride where I wasn't with a group committed to stay together.

I worked him hard, cooled him down, pulled him around, stayed big with him in attitude and behavior, then tied him to the trailer with a hay bag. No more pasture time. His eyes were bright, he watched every move I made. He was worried about ticking me off, about making a mistake. It was something he needed to worry about.

When we loaded into the trailer he loaded up so quick, that I could have closed the divider two or three holes closer. Hmm. No need to stand with the butt in the way? Trailer not so small now?

This is who this horse needs. Very strong in attitude, very hard driving individual. I've said it before and I am pretty convinced at this point.

And let me tell you, those bucks didn't feel bratty, they didn't feel scared. I've ridden those. His bucks at the ranch two weeks ago were bratty. I was willing to put up with those.

These were mean. And I'm not kidding. I could feel it viscerally, and it was what made me so angry. I was so mad I could have ridden a Brahma bull at that point.

When I saw him today he still had attitude, but the minute I got harsher, angry, head witch, he straightened up. Even walked up to me in the paddock - but only after he tried to evade me and I got furious and drove him around three quick turns in 10 feet of space. Then he was all like "yes, ma'am!"

It sucks.

I know what he needs to get over this. He needs to be confronted with it repeatedly. But let me tell you, I'm not willing to be on his back when he explodes because the horse he wants to hang out with is 40 feet away. Because I might not get his head up on the second buck. And while I've ridden as many as 7 bucks in a row, I felt myself ready to fly on this one. Too big to stick.

I'm not a trainer. I'm a half decent rider. I just got my confidence back, and I'm not sure this is a way to keep it.

So tell me - are my expectations out of line? Is it unreasonable to want a horse that doesn't have a buck?


Paint Girl said...

No, it is not unreasonable to want a horse that doesn't buck. And you did the right thing by making him canter away from the other horse and making him realize that it is your way, not his. He needs to know that your are dominant over him and you are the one making the decisions. I love how you have responded to his attitude, and it sounds like he is realizing that it is your way, not his.

Just today my farrier was out, when he was done shoeing my Paint, we walked away to put them back in their pasture, Fritzy decided to get pushy with me and tried to run me down, I just happened to have a whip in my hand and whacked her on her chest and made her back up away from me. We just went through a ton of ground work last summer, and apparently she has forgotten some of it. So looks like we will be going back to ground work school this week. She needs an attitude adjustment again, and she is just one of those horses that has to be reminded more often than not.

Trailrider said...

Cibolo isn't broke, and you need a dead broke horse: a horse that is broke in the body, broke in the poll, flexes, bends and knows his leads, a horse that will canter in a controlled-collected fashion in circles, an OLDER horse that is proven and doesn't buck. You need a horse for a beginner/intermediate rider.

You have a 7 year old, unfinished, broke to ride horse that knows nothing about collection and screams "I am not afraid of you, I am not submitting readily and I will test you" with every ride. He says this in everything he does: trailering, getting caught in pasture, while he's shifting position while you tack and groom him, in EVERY possible thing he is asked to do.

I have a "Cibolo" too, and that's "Lola", my new grade QH. She is NOT dead broke, and I have a lot of work ahead to get her that way. But I'm willing to take it on and I know what I have.

"Woody" my 17 year old grade QH IS dead broke. I got on him cold back yesterday and rode him. He did everything right: opened my pasture gate while mounted (a tough gate), flexed very well and with fingertip effort, and moved in a collected fashion, nicely flexed at the poll, in all his gaits. He took the correct lead with a little help from me, and he was as under control at a full run as he was at the walk. He gave me a slow canter, medium, and flat run with nary a hiccup, and he has done this now for years. He is not for sale at any price.

There are the right horses out there. You just haven't found it and I feel you've been led by color and looks and papers, none of which can be ridden, and something I have done in the past as well.

Leah Fry said...

Since Poco only bucks out of fear, I can't really help you with that part, since "mean" is very different. Good for you for being able to stay with him. You're a better cowgirl than I.

What I can tell you is that I have the same respect issues with Poco. I've had to adopt a different persona around him. Treat him the way the Boss Mare would treat him. There's no fair, there's only "because I can and because I say so." Blow right past him and make him move when you do. When you feed him, make him back away from you, stand and wait until you say he can eat. After you pet him, don't just let him go, send him away. When he gets too big for his britches, ignore him completely. Lavish attention on another horse, preferably his best bud. Do not even acknowledge his presence for a few days. If he's anything like mine, he'll be begging for attention, practically jumping into his tack. It may sound a little silly, but you'd be amazed.

Jeni said...

wow! I'm sorry about all that. And NO ! It's not too much to ask to have a horse who does not buck or explode when situations do not meet their expectations so long as they are not scared or hurt. Even then a buck is not allowed... in my opinion of course.

Mrs Mom said...

Hell no it's not unreasonable!!

But I don't know what to suggest. Right now, I'll stew on it some with you, and see what comes up.

If you are headed where I think you are- you have my total support. Best to stay SAFE, girl. We don't bounce so well anymore.

Beth said...

I really understand about getting your confidence back, but I have to say it sounds like you can handle it fine. Now if you want to or not is another matter. Although if you can handle it, it sounds like when you lay down the law he responds really well. Eventually he will believe you and you won't have to be always lawing down the law.

I am going through that with Corrie. I keep being reminded that she doesn't believe me when I ask her to do something, so I have to be more harsh than I would really like to until we establish that place where she does believe me. Until then I have to deal with behaviors that are not my favorite to deal with, although right now we don't have to deal with bucking, for which I am very grateful.

You are working with a trainer right? TR? I don't take riding lesson very often, but when I do he really points me in the right direction. He gives me things to work on, and points out things that I just missed. In the past week I have really struggling over a simple issue and with just a little guidance from my trainer, I was able to start to fix it.

Gail said...

I know I am not strong enough to handle that. I think I would want a safer horse, because bottom line is, it is not safe to have a problem like this. A lesser rider would have been hurt.

I do not have a solution but for me I would not want a battle every time I mounted.

Anonymous said...

You might need to trade and you might need to work it through with him - only you will know what works for you. Either choice is a good one. A horse that is buddy-sour is a challenge - there are things you can do to work him through it, but it'll take time and patience and going out there every time with a specific plan and cooperative riding partners. The riding with and then away (until just the point of the horse not being able to hold it together any more), then back, then away - sort of like approaching a scary object, but in reverse. His behavior feels mean, but it's just normal horse - Must Be With Buddies Now Or Will DIE!!! If his behavior has been reinforced by others in the past - buck or run and you get to join your buddies - then effectively he's been taught the behavior and you have to teach him something new. I know all that's easier said than done - I think you've got the ability to do it, the question is whether you want to. And if you don't want to, that's perfectly OK too and doesn't mean you're giving up - it just means you want something different from your time with horses.

Good luck either way!

Cara said...

I think they all have a buck. I don't think you can forget that. You DO have to know what will bring it out. Some have more than others. You DO have to know how to deal with your horse's buck.
Janow has a buck at 20 years old. I know how to avoid it, mostly. He doesn't buck me off. If he want's me off, he doesnt have to buck, he just shrugs.
Bear has a buck and she is 32. Beginners bouncing really high at the canter make her buck. Students are not allowed to canter her until their seats are good enough.
Lessons are good.

Anonymous said...

Gads. I wish I had some words of wisdom, but I don't.

the7msn said...

Is there a rider among us who hasn't been in this exact same place? And just when we think we've licked the problem, it rears (or in your case, bucks) its ugly head again. "Consistency" was the key for me. Being around George and Alan helped me truly understand what that word means. Once I wrapped my head around it in the saddle, it was a new day.

gtyyup said...

Yes, you did have quite the rodeo. I prefer watching from the grand stands than participating in the bronco events!

I think Beth said it've got the ability to handle the situation, but if you don't want to finish the horse to be the dead broke horse he will eventually become with a lot of work and wet saddle pads, you probably have the wrong horse.

It's a decision that only you can make.

AareneX said...

It isn't unreasonable for you to want a horse that doesn't buck. It might be a lot of work to get Cibolo there, though--and you must ask yourself if you want to be the person who does the work and takes the chances of getting hurt while doing the work. As others have said, only you can make this decision.

An additional note that bossy, alpha horses who challenge authority will often always challenge authority--not so frequently, after years of work, nor so strongly. But when dealing with a horse who challenges authority, you will need to be the authority forever . Are you willing to do that for 20 or 25 more years?

Crystal said...

I dont think you are wrong at all for wanting a horse that doesnt buck, my first horse was a young one, just started (I know it was all wrong) but he was gentle, I had him 5 years and did all his training, which I knew nothing about, but never once did he buck. He moved sideways and reacted, but never a buck, so they are out there, it is just hard to find.

Melanie said...

Oh man....I am sorry. And not to sound like a broken record, but no, it is not unreasonable to ask for a horse that does not buck. There are a lot of them out there, just as there are a lot of buckers out there.

Just listen to your heart. you will do the right thing for you. : )

Wolfie said...

I agree with Kate. I think you have the ability and patience to work through this, if you choose. I do find it interesting that bucking is a fairly recent development, however. Perhaps it is a phase?

One Red Horse said...

I have spent four years working with Red on his buddy sour issues. This summer we did our FIRST EVER trail rides solo. We were on a trail trials even and at one point a group of three riders joined us. We went hung out together for about 15 minutes while waiting for everyone to finish the trial. Then they walked away. Red started to get ballistic. That was all it took, 15 minutes for him to decide that he had a new herd and if they left him he would die. For a buddy sour horse, watching another horse walk away is a HUGE trigger of their issues. Your choice to have Cibolo go in the OTHER direction was exactly what I've used to help Red deal with being alone on the trail. Riding away from the horse or group in as many directions as I can. Stopping and turning and flexing as they walk away. Over and over again. You really defined the situation when you wrote "This is exactly when he freaks out. The other horse is too far away, I release him enough to close some distance, and he explodes." When I read that I think "buddy sour". If that is "the issue" that results in bucking, it CAN be worked with. If you decide it is something you want to do.

jill said...

As another person said, some horses are buckers. For whatever reason that has become their communication of choice when they feel "stuck" or "unsafe". I also think that it is a hard thing change. It may go away for a while, but it will show itself again eventually. There is a gal at our barn whose horse is a bucker. The owner knows this and works with and around it and tries to avoid the triggers, but always is aware that it is in there somewhere and may come out if triggered.
I do not know anything about your relationship with your horse. If you do not want to have to worry about the bucking, then you'll have to learn to cope, work and avoid the triggers. Only you know if you're willing to do that..consistantly and probably for as long as you own him.
He sounds like the type of horse that "tests" a lot. He has been testing and at some point decided that his bucking reaction was the way to let you know how he feels.
I also have a young horse that I started from age 4. He was green broke, but has the personality that so far, at aleast, bucking isn't part of. Thank goodness. But it's a personality thing partly I think, my horse is very laid back. So while you may be able to "cope" with the problem, unless you want to, and have the time to be consistant everytime you're with him, do you want to do that? Only you know. You have to become his safe place. That takes a lot of time and work.
If you don't like to be the person he needs you to be, then you will only start resenting him.
Be safe and good luck.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Have you ever taken the Horseonality Quiz?
It would be interesting to see just where Cibolo fits in that chart.

Baby Doll fit the DEAF Personality pretty well (Dominant Energetic Afraid Friendly)

Strong minded but insecure, this personality needs an equally strong rider to help them feel safe. Be loving and affectionate, but don’t give up your leadership. Once you have them on your page, they are very friendly and have a strong desire to please. They can be highly competitive and will give you their all. Not a horse for a junior or amateur until much later in life.

Protect them
Repeat lessons often
Be their boss
Honor their energy
Keep a steady training program

Overload them
Skip steps in training
Show weakness or fear
Have huge expectations
Jump into new territory

You can see that we weren't poorly matched, eh?


Apache gave me one buck at the first day of the ACTHA weekend, but it was a small unhappy buck and wasn't at all mean or bratty. She was telling me that we needed to slow down and stop racing pellmell after the other riders and their crazy green horses. It wasn't to toss me off, and after I listened to her and we slowed down and went at our pace, she never bucked again or acted unhappy.

I will never choose to ride a horse like Baby Doll again. A horse that must test you every step of the way, that demands a powerful leader, and if it decides you're not up to the task 100%, will give you a terrible attitude.

I'm not interested in taming the shrew or riding a Brahma Bull. Like you, I'm riding to have fun, enjoy nature, visit new places, and enjoy a close partnership with my equine friend.

You have to do what's right for you. You know Cibolo better than anyone.
I just feel bad that he's put you into a frustrating position where you're questioning if this is what you want to put up with.

My wish for you is miles of fun, happy trail rides and a close partnership with your horse, my friend.


Maia said...

Here I am and I'm not a western whaever guru. So here's my best advice. If you have to scream and beat up your horse, you do not have the right horse. That never works.

jacksonsgrrl said...

DARN IT! Girl. I understand. MY thoughts are with you as you decide what path is going to be the correct one for you. I wish I had some great advice, sadly, YOU are going to need to decide whether or not this is a hurdle you need to overcome, (and know that there will be more), or find him a home. I have issues of my own I am dealing with so I understand. Don't do anything rash, but don't make yourself miserable to the point of insanity either. Are you getting lessons, or what are you doing at this point? I guess camping is out....:(
That sucks. You know my story. I am finding that the more I ride, the better J. gets, and riding alone is helping us hugely. He hates it, but everytime he gets a bit better about leaving his buds at the barn. I WISH I had know that sooner. Sounds like you gave old Cib the what for though! I would not like to get you pissed off! I'll be thinking about ya...