Tran­si­tion Tur­moil

Trainer Brad Barke­meyer of­fers ad­vice for re­train­ing a horse that bucks or lurches into lope tran­si­tions.

Horse & Rider - - Problem Solvers -

QAl­most ev­ery time I ask my horse to pick up a lope in ei­ther di­rec­tion, he bucks. Some­times it’s just a small lurch for­ward, and other times he re­ally gets a good buck in. I’m an ex­pe­ri­enced rider, and I feel I can work through this with him. How would you han­dle the prob­lem if he were your horse? train­ing so­lu­tions are sim­i­lar. Be­fore you do any­thing else, be sure to check with your vet­eri­nar­ian to rule out phys­i­cal prob­lems. Sore­ness can cause both of these be­hav­iors. Also check your tack. A poorly fit­ting sad­dle could also be to blame.

I’ll of­fer you three ways to ad­dress your horse’s be­hav­ior so you can get back to en­joy­able rid­ing, and he can learn that buck­ing and rush­ing aren’t ac­cept­able an­swers when asked to lope.

So­lu­tion #1: Part Ways?

I’ll be blunt: Buck­ing is a dan­ger­ous be­hav­ior. If you’re not an ex­pe­ri­enced rider, stick­ing with this horse could crush your con­fi­dence and lead to in­jury. If you don’t have the skills and con­fi­dence to work through the prob­lem, it might be best to part ways with this horse and find one that bet­ter suits your abil­i­ties and skill level. This could mean sell­ing the horse to a more ex­pe­ri­enced rider or send­ing the horse out to a trainer who can work past the horse’s urge to buck and lurch when asked to lope.

There’s no shame in ad­mit­ting when a horse is too much for your rid­ing level. In fact, it usu­ally ends up with both of you in bet­ter sit­u­a­tions. You

in a fear­ful po­si­tion, ready to hang on if he tries to leave you, makes your horse anx­ious. He’ll be­gin to as­so­ciate your fear­ful po­si­tion with his lurch­ing and buck­ing.

If your horse lopes off smoothly, travel a few strides, then qui­etly stop him and of­fer praise. Re­peat the cue from a stand­still, walk, and trot to build your con­fi­dence and re­in­force his re­sponse to your cue.

If he rushes for­ward or bucks, im­me­di­ately pull his head to the left or right by bring­ing that rein hand back to your hip. Use a steady pull, not a jerk, to cir­cle your horse down to a stop. Gather your wits, then ask again for a lope. Re­peat the re­quest un­til he de­parts with­out in­ci­dent. Lope a few strides, then stop and praise him.

This re­quires pa­tience, per­sis­tence, and rep­e­ti­tion, but you can over­come this be­hav­ior so you and your horse can en­joy your rides more.

Charg­ing or buck­ing into a lope is a bad habit that must be bro­ken for your safety and rid­ing en­joy­ment.

ABOVE: Work out your horse’s is­sues in the round pen first for your own safety. Sad­dle and bri­dle your horse, and tie your reins to the sad­dle horn with as much slack as you have when rid­ing, but not so much that he could tan­gle his feet in the reins. Nev

Sit­ting in an ath­letic rid­ing po­si­tion, cue your horse for a lope. If he lurches for­ward or bucks, pull him around to the left or right in a small cir­cle.

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