Tail swishing and bucking?

This topic contains 31 replies, has 21 voices, and was last updated by  meg 3 years, 8 months ago.

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  • taylor_robel Original Poster
    Topics Started: 3Replies Posted: 8

    I have a 15 Y/O Paint, who has been irregularly ridden for 2+ years. He knows how to jump and has previously shown 2’6″…He was stalled for sometime and I recently bought him and moved him to a barn nearby. Since then we have been working pretty regularly and up until a month or so ago he has been fine. I had a lesson and had been asking more of him than usual and he retaliated, big time. Whenever I asked something of him he would swish his tail and buck…it then progressed to trotting to a cross rail and after the landing, transition into the canter we would make it about two paces before he threw me, every time. This has progressed now to every time I ride and ask something as little as to trot. I don’t know how to correct this behavior. I have had several people ‘feel him over’ and he doesn’t flinch, etc. So I don’t want to pay for a chiro if I don’t have to, but he might need one? Also, saddles can be ruled out as a problem since I normally ride English and have even ridden him in my western saddle. Seems like I have a HUGE attitude problem on my hands. Problem being, he is a saint on the ground. I just am out of options and need some advice. Lunging—he is normally well behaved, but if he won’t transition and I get after him with the whip, he tries to kick, charge, etc. Can someone help? Thanks!

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 477

    An English saddle, arguably even moreso than a Western due to the surface area or lack there of, indeed requires proper fitting. At this point in your horse’s progression under saddle and his age/work rate, he can be considered not old but experienced : ) His body has likely changed, ‘specially where he was living in and out of irregular work and is now in steady activity. Your saddle (and your seat use) is KEY in his comfort. What fit initially might not fit so well now due to refitness. It is also possible that he had a pasture incident, however seemingly minour, that jammed up a hip or something. Chiro and/or massage is indicated here.

    Coming back into work later in life after idleness can be a tricky thing. You might consider a massage as this can relax and sometimes pinpoint many structural issues. It can also support or rule out the need and effect of chiropractics.

    Your horse is trying desperately to tell you that something is not right for him. I think you would be safe to start by looking into his saddle/back first, then teeth if they are due to be floated, and try to determine the source of his issue(s).

    There are a whole bunch of reasons why he might be behaving like he is, I offer only the common and most assumed causes. You know the horse best, keep digging til you get to the source. Good luck, be careful and I hope this can be resolved with an uncomplicated solution for both of you : )

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    DesertHorses DesertHorses
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 7

    Totally agree with pheets’ comments – your horse is desperately trying to tell you something and its your job to figure out what it is.
    It sounds a bit as if you might not be a very experienced horsewoman and your horse is running the show. Taking a few lessons with a good instructor who can look at the big picture as well as work a bit with your horse herself can help you pinpoint if the issues are you or your horse. The instructor should observe how you handle him from stall through tacking up, ground work, riding, cooling down and putting him up again. If your horse is all clear on the physical side, then you need to sort out if it’s aggressiveness or lack of confidence – the resulting behavior may look the same but addressing or fixing it is different.
    You need to earn a horse’s respect to be the one in charge. It may be learning to be more assertive, or learning to send clearer signals. A horse charging you, whether from agressiveness or from lack of confidence (being on the lunge or in a round pen doesn’t allow a fearful horse to use his “flight” response), is dangerous and you need an experienced instructor/trainer to help you sort this out.

    Patti Woodbury Kuvik
    Vail AZ

    NinaJD NinaJD
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 139

    He could also just be telling you he doesn’t want to be working so much or jump anymore.

    Like everyone said, I would check saddle fit. I went through 3 saddles with my 18 year old due to him not being worked, then being worked, losing weight/muscle and then regaining muscle. It’s a never ending cycle with the older ones because they are constantly changing.
    Are you kicking, carrying a crop?
    Who was riding him before you bought him? Have you talked to them about this, to see if maybe this is why he wasn’t ridden so often?
    I have one gelding who if you carry a crop, freaks out and bucks(he was whipped by previous owners).

    so saddle fit, teeth, feet, joints, etc. Maybe take him out on a trail ride, get him out of the arena, see if this helps his attitude.

    "Take the time it takes, so that it takes less time."
    "Expect a lot, accept a little, reward often."
    Pat Parelli

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Everyone here has some great points. To expand on those, have you changed your riding habits since you started riding him? Something you are doing could be hurting him physically or could be sending the wrong message to him and causing the attitude problems. I personally am a big proponent of natural horsemanship to resolving problems – if it is the latter, after being checked out by a vet for any physical ailments, of course. There are some great resources online for natural horsemanship, and you may be able to find someone in your area. Stacy Westfall, Clinton Anderson (of Downunder Horsemanship) and Buck Brannaman all have great videos to help you get started, but a clinic or trainer would be best.

    Crys Crys
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4


    Sounds like your hours is disrespectful. I could write you a novel on why I think so, but will refer you to Clinton Anderson’s Down Under Horsemanship website instead.
    See if you can find an article or video with the subject “Philosophy” or something related. You will not be disappointed. Many bookstores carry his book.
    I am the proud owner of a 10 year old gelding that the previous owners where going to destroy. He was completely out of control.
    It’s a long story, but something possessed me to purchase this creature about 18 months ago. I hadn’t owned a horse in 30 years. A trainer at the stable where he was introduced us both to “The Method”.
    My “Bronco Billy” is now a personable friend. He is obedient, trustworthy and a pleasure to be around. Every time I take him somewhere, every one comments what a wonderful citizen he is.
    The Method is more about being a disciplined and consistent horseman than it is about training horses. Clinton breaks it down step by step.
    Get to one of his Walk About Tours. You won’t believe your eyes.
    Happy Trails!

    Back in the saddle again.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I have been reading on the PSSM Forum on facebook and it sounds like some of the issues that members talk about occurring with their PSSM positive horses. I gather that when the horse is experiencing symptoms, they are in pain and can express it as bad behavior. The symptoms are not always there from birth, sometimes when a horse is older it becomes symptomatic. There is a genetic test using pulled hair for PSSM1. You might want to check out that forum since you have already had a chiro and vet check. Just another idea.

    Matt_cowhorse Matt_cowhorse
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I do not ride English but I have a horse about the same age and when I changed my horse from a roper to a cowhorse I went to fast in the beginning and it caused him to act up so I slowed down and he did better. Maybe it would be better to slow down a little until he gets used to the new riding pattern and slowly work him up to where you want him to be.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4

    I believe crys comments are right on. From what you’ve described, This is a respect issue. She’s right on target to recommend “the Method” and Clinton Anderson. Today, most modern trainers use a similar approach but Clinton has a way of presenting the lessons in an straight forward, easily understandable way, without talking down to the student. I have a Jackies Butte Mustang that was deemed “too dangerous” by some sheriffs posse members out West. I met him before I realized that a Mustang IS NOT a beginners horse. At the time, I had no experience whatsoever with horses but offered to work with him after his original owner got injured mounting him. Today,Ty is my close companion thanks mainly to the Clinton Anderson method. He is not the same horse I first met. If you ever get the opportunity, attend one of Clinton’s Walkabout tours and I’m sure you’ll be impressed with him.

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    According to one of the greatest horse trainers, and arguably one of the greatest horsemen of the twentieth century, Alois Podhajsky, Olympian and Director of the Spanish Riding Academy: “If your horse does not do what you ask, do not first assume that he is rebelling. Ask yourself if he understood your request. If he understood and does not comply, you must determine if he is physically able to do the task.”

    In my experience a well-trained horse with a decent work-ethic doesn’t act out without a physical reason. There is a high degree of probability that pain motivates him to get you off his back based on your statement that he is/was easily managed on the ground and when you weren’t demanding so much of him. The accelerated rate of his misbehavior would indicate an advancing issue. I would seek a ‘lameness’ veterinary expert to identify/eliminate the problem. Just because he doesn’t respond to firm hand pressure does not mean you + your saddle/seat aren’t inflicting severe pain. It could also be the saddle fit, but I would NOT blame the horse’s mentality until I eliminated possible physical issues.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by Mapale Mapale.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    bri bri
    Topics Started: 3Replies Posted: 6

    Take him on a trail. Let him enjoy himself and both of you can just relax. My horse hates contact of any kink if I am not relax or he just needs a break so I bring him on a trail about once a month even in the snow… He enjoys it a lot and he is an angel. Also you can try giving him a break in the arena by just doing easy simple work. If necessary put no jumps in sight so it’s something different and he isn’t focused on those. If that works than bring out one jump at a time and keep them low like little trot jumps that he can just ease right over. This should help him start to enjoy jumping and being worked again. GOOD LUCK! I hope it works out for you 😀

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4

    This may be a bit off target but it won’t hurt to try. Get a hold of the February 2014 issue of Horse and Rider and read the article titled “When Sweet Turns to Spooky.” The article describes how a dream horse became a nightmare and the surprising cause and cure.

    ashleybrooke ashleybrooke
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 5

    Your horse could possibly be becoming ring sour. He could be feeling overwhelmed with the new work load he has. As other have suggested try a trail ride, definitely try get out of the arena! Give him some time off as well. Maybe for 3 or 4 days just bring him in to groom and give him some love so he knows that going in the barn doesn’t always mean work. Also just lead him around the arena a few times and walk out. That will show him again that arena and barn doesn’t always mean work. After that couple days off I would decrease the amount of time you ride to a half hour rather than an hour. Continuing to do this sort of routine a while may help him until he is ready for normal work. Rather than surprise him with regular work again this will ease him back into it. Sometimes we have to take a few steps back so we can move forward again. All the other things people have suggested could very well be a possibility as well. Do whatever you think is best for your horse!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    Yes, once you have ruled out any health issues, time to go to work. Trail would be wonderful once you feel safe. If you stop riding him when he acts up you are rewarding him and he now knows how to control the situation, though if you continue (if you feel safe), flex him and do not allow him to stop when he acts unacceptable. If you do stop riding him, take him to the round pen and let him know his work day is not over though do allow him to rest when he is settling doww and reward him when his actions are acceptable. Hope this helps. p.s. check his bit too..sometimes a little thing like a bit can make a huge difference. Keep us posted…………..

    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 1

    It could be many things. Not to worry though!!
    The things it could be are:
    Saddle- fix through saddle fitting.
    Back sore- fix through extra pad or by sore no more spray.
    Hoof sensitive or soft hoofs- fix by turpentine or farrier visits or hoof boots.
    Abscess- fix by soaking hoof in Epsom salt and then putting a mixture of sugar and bedidine in hoof and covering it in a diaper vet wrap and then ducktape.
    These are all fixable solutions. I hope your bucking gets better! I know how it feels!! Lol!! 🙂

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