Horse is striking out when asked to trot

Swiminangel

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Jul 11, 2021
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I have a 15 year old Morgan I use for trail riding. I am 40 and have been in training for 10 months. When I got the horse I was told he bucks when asked to canter. I just started cantering with him and I have found that he is not bucking with me on him at a canter, but the last two days towards the end of my ride I will ask him to trot and I think he knows that I am about to ask for a canter. But anyways, when I am asking for a more forward trot he is arching his back and striking out his front feet. The first time I rode through it I couldn’t feel what he was doing. Yesterday he did it again but it was even bigger. I felt his back curving and I saw his feet he felt very frustrated? Or like he was protesting what I was asking. I got off him because I didn’t want to be on his back when he was behaving this way and I lunged him. A bit of a backstory when I started out riding yesterday and all days he is very slow- like you would walk faster then he goes he is lazy lol. Anyways, when I brought him to the trailer to get the lunge line he was walking really fast like right up besides me, almost ahead of me, and had a lot of energy for some reason. (I had been walking and slow trotting (he wouldn’t step more forward for the 40 minutes prior) anyways I lunged him he sweat a ton but he choose the speed on the lunge line and I only stopped when he was ready to walk when I asked him to walk. Anyways pain has been ruled out. I am not sure why he started striking out? And or how to get him to stop?
 

carthorse

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It sounds to me like you need some lessons together. To me it sounds like he generally lacks respect for you - he sets the speed for the pace and has little regard for what you want whether hacking, leading or on the lunge and I suspect the striking out is also a lack of respect, an "I don't want to so I won't!" response. Since you say pain has been ruled out, which I'm assuming means you've had a thorough vet check done, I think you need someone working with you to help you establish that you're in control not him. Refusing to walk at a reasonable speed is just as disrespectful as hammering round on the lunge refusing to go how you ask, and the striking out is just another form of it. It could be you aren't making yourself clear to him - are you giving him a rein he can move forward into when you ask him to walk on or trot, were you in the right place and giving clear aids on the lunge? - but again lessons will help with that. I have mixed views on getting off when he was striking out, ultimately you had to keep yourself safe but it has told him very clearly that this is a successful trick.
 

Swiminangel

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Jul 11, 2021
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It sounds to me like you need some lessons together. To me it sounds like he generally lacks respect for you - he sets the speed for the pace and has little regard for what you want whether hacking, leading or on the lunge and I suspect the striking out is also a lack of respect, an "I don't want to so I won't!" response. Since you say pain has been ruled out, which I'm assuming means you've had a thorough vet check done, I think you need someone working with you to help you establish that you're in control not him. Refusing to walk at a reasonable speed is just as disrespectful as hammering round on the lunge refusing to go how you ask, and the striking out is just another form of it. It could be you aren't making yourself clear to him - are you giving him a rein he can move forward into when you ask him to walk on or trot, were you in the right place and giving clear aids on the lunge? - but again lessons will help with that. I have mixed views on getting off when he was striking out, ultimately you had to keep yourself safe but it has told him very clearly that this is a successful trick.
I am in training:) thank you for your response:) when I got off I didn’t untack him I immediately put him to work and made him sweat then got on and asked for a trot to canter again and he did do it. So hopefully I didn’t teach him how to get me off :/
 

Lollykay

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Feb 11, 2017
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My first response to comments like these is to always check for pain issues before correcting for behavior.

My rescue Arab bucked up every time he cantered, even at liberty in the pasture, because he had vertebra issue. His bottom line was nobody who weighed more than 100# could ride him And only at a walk or trot.

I bring that up because horses don’t initially buck without a reason. It’s up to us to figure that out..

Please have the horse evaluated for structural pain issues and also ulcers. If a thorough exam reveals a clean bill of health, then proceed differently.

I agree more lessons may be needed but, if pain is the root cause the behavioral issues are learned to escape the discomfort and will have to be unlearned.

Also, FWIW, my good friend’s adult niece just got back into riding. The horse is a nervous horse anyway, and it has bucked her off twice. My 72 year old friend and her adult daughter have both ridden the horse at a W/T/C with absolutely zero issues.

The horse’s problem, coupled with excessive nerves, is the high nervous level of the niece PLUS she is heavy handed on the reins (rides the head as we old timers say). She won’t listen to the advice of her aunt or cousin, so it’s up in the air whether she keeps the horse, who otherwise does not have any flaws.
 

Swiminangel

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Jul 11, 2021
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My first response to comments like these is to always check for pain issues before correcting for behavior.

My rescue Arab bucked up every time he cantered, even at liberty in the pasture, because he had vertebra issue. His bottom line was nobody who weighed more than 100# could ride him And only at a walk or trot.

I bring that up because horses don’t initially buck without a reason. It’s up to us to figure that out..

Please have the horse evaluated for structural pain issues and also ulcers. If a thorough exam reveals a clean bill of health, then proceed differently.

I agree more lessons may be needed but, if pain is the root cause the behavioral issues are learned to escape the discomfort and will have to be unlearned.

Also, FWIW, my good friend’s adult niece just got back into riding. The horse is a nervous horse anyway, and it has bucked her off twice. My 72 year old friend and her adult daughter have both ridden the horse at a W/T/C with absolutely zero issues.

The horse’s problem, coupled with excessive nerves, is the high nervous level of the niece PLUS she is heavy handed on the reins (rides the head as we old timers say). She won’t listen to the advice of her aunt or cousin, so it’s up in the air whether she keeps the horse, who otherwise does not have any flaws.
Yes I have had vet out last week to check for pain. Because he was being a terd. It was determined that he was not in pain. If your nieces horse is good for everyone but her I would come to the conclusion it’s her not the horse. It is sad that he might go to somewhere else. My horse is 15 and has been for trail riding. He is hard headed at times lol. But a couple weeks ago he did a ton y fear which is new (hence the vet call) and now he is trying this new tactic for striking out :/ I work with a trainer once a week. It’s just frustrating. I feel like we are taking two steps forward one step back :/
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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If you've only been riding for 10 months then I suspect the problem is that he's sussed your lack of experience and is taking advantage. Yes that's rude of him, but he's a horse and it's normal. You either need to learn how to cope and nip this behaviour in the bud, or maybe consider selling him and buying something better suited to a novice, or another option may be to have an experienced rider ride him a few times a week to keep him in check until you can - check they truly are experienced though, people lie, and that they understand they are getting him right for you to ride not just doing what they want. I'm sorry if that sounds negative, but unfortunately horses don't tend to be careful of dreams or egos.
 
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