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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Horses and ponies usually make excellent companions for humans, but they can be dangerous animals - especially when they behave unpredictably. Nothing makes a horse less suitable as a "pet" than a horse or pony that bucks....but why do they do it ?

Occasional bucking can be a transient problem in many young, inexperienced, frightened or excessively frisky horses and ponies. At this stage it is nothing to be too concerned about but it is important that training to take a saddle, and later a rider is done under the supervision of an experienced trainer. Lively horses and ponies need a strong handler who can discipline them and train them to react normally and to behave for the rider. 

Bucking becomes a serious problem in older horses which refuse to accept a saddle or rider and there are several reasons why this may occur :

  • Poor training to accept a saddle (and other tack eg headgear)
  • Poor training to accept a rider
  • Behavioural problems - despite training the horse simply continues to refuse to accept human attempts to ride it 
  • The horse is experiencing discomfort through poorly fitting tack - eg saddle, bit, headgear.
  • The horse has a medical problem making pressure on the back painful - this could be due to back problems, or problems in the limbs 

Human safety is the main concern and owners and children should not be exposed to the dangers posed by a bucking horse or pony. Provet recommends that the following steps should be taken to determine the underlying cause/manage the cases :

  • Have the horse/pony examined by a veterinarian to make sure there isn't a medical problem
  • Make sure all tack fits correctly and is not too tight or causing discomfort
  • Have the horse trained - or retrained - by an experienced trainer. The rider must be in control.

Various authors have suggested other possible remedies, which may be attempted providing the rider is not putting themselves at unnecessary risk. :

  • Let frisky horses undertake rigorous exercise without a rider before attempting to mount it . 
  • Keep the horses head up during exercise - this makes bucking difficult
  • Exercise horses on  hills - the slope makes it difficult for the horse to buck without losing it's balance


Updated October 2013