How To Break A Horse From Bucking

Last Updated on April 25, 2022 by Cristina

Whether you can ride a horse or not, you will agree that it is a thrilling experience. However, horse riding can become dangerous if your horse bucks. 

Bucking is when a horse keeps both front legs firmly on the ground and then throws its hind ends upwards and backward, it is basically kicking with its hind legs. This is often done with the intention to get rid of a predator or the rider him/herself. We will discuss the reasons why horses buck and how to break a horse from bucking in this article. Keep reading to find out.

Causes Of Bucking In Horses

There are myriad of reasons why a horse may buck, here are some of them.

1. Mean Horses – How To Break A Horse From Bucking

The same way we have people that are in perpetual bad moods is the same way we have sour horses. A horse may buck because it’s just a naturally bitter creature that’s trying to spread misery.

Causes Of Bucking In Horses - Mean Horses

2. Excitement

This is not even as strange as it may sound. You know how we have something called a “sugar rush”, maybe after taking an energy drink or just too much sugar, we are so excited that we can’t sit in one place? Bucking is, sometimes, horses’ version of a happy dance, they are just trying to work off some of the restlessness.

It’s all fun and games when a horse is just bucking by itself or with other horses in a field. Things get real when a horse starts bucking out of excitement while you are riding it. If you, somehow detect that your horse is super excited before your ride, you can take it for a trail ride, let it lunge for a while, or get it to do some complicated exercise, to help it burn off that excess energy.

Read more about Can Horses Eat Whole Apples?

3. Pain/ Discomfort – How To Break A Horse From Bucking

A saddle that isn’t fitted properly can cause a horse to buck. Some western saddles are fitted with back cinches to prevent them from falling off, if the cinch is too tight or too loose, it can cause discomfort and make your horse buck.

A horse may also buck due to physical pain or tiredness, sometimes, even mental tiredness. Sudden movement can also startle a horse into bucking.

4. Bucking To Evade Work

Some horses buck to avoid doing work and try to do so by intimidating the rider. This type of bucking can be easily identified because, in their bid to escape work, these horses end up doing too much. They do things like balking and trying to bang your knees on a tree, when a horse is being so obvious, it’s not hard to tell that it is obviously trying to get you off.

Bucking To Evade Work

5. Horses That Are Trained To Buck (Broncs)

Does it sound a little strange? I think it does. Anyway, these horses are trained to buck aggressively to test a rider’s ability to stay on. They are often found in rodeos. A bucking strap is usually involved in getting the horse to buck, it causes enough discomfort to prompt bucking.

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Why Horses Would Buck When Happy

Horses can buck because they are hyper-excited or playful. It is a means of getting rid of excess energy for them. Now you are asking why are we discussing how to break a horse from bucking if it makes them happy, right? Remember bucking is often done with the intention of getting rid of a predator or the rider him/herself, a reaction to irritation, pain, or threats. 

Causes Of Bucking When You Canter

One of the most common reasons why your horse may buck when trying to transition to a canter is confusion. You could have ineffective leg aids or be subconsciously pulling back your reins, in either case, it gives your horse conflicting emotions, and bucking is a way for it to tell you that. All your movements should make it very clear that you want to transition to a canter. 

It could also be that isn’t physically capable yet or just lacks the coordination at that moment.

How To Tell That A Horse Will Buck

You will probably feel your horse’s body stiffening and swelling beneath you as it prepares to throw you off course, literally. Now that you can tell that your horse is going to buck, let’s dive into how to break a horse from bucking.

From the Horse’s Point of View

How To Break A Horse From Bucking

How To Break A Horse From Bucking

  1. You can break a horse from bucking by putting your horse in a position where it is practically impossible to buck. You pull the reins sharply to the right or left side and try to make your horse’s nose touch its leg, this is the “impossible to buck” position. You then do the same thing to the other side to make your intentions clear. Do not reduce the pressure you are applying until the horse has completely stopped moving. 
  2. You can also prevent bucking by keeping your horse’s head up with soft half halts, having a firm hold on the reins, and keeping your weight balanced, relaxed, and in the center.
  3. We know horses may buck if they perceive a threat. One way to break a horse from bucking is by allowing the Horse to smell you. This act reassures your Horse that everything is Ok.
  4. Lastly on how to break a horse from bucking, try your best to keep moving forward, if you prevent your horse from stopping, then, it has no way of planting its front legs.

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Protect Yourself

If you’ve engaged all the tips on how to break a horse from bucking in this article, your horse still somehow manages to buck, and you should try to take the path of least damage. 

Set deep in the saddle and hold a firm position; heels down and shoulders. This is to prevent you from landing forward on your head which can be very dangerous. 

If you have a bad feeling about staying on the horse mid-buck, then, getting off is a good idea. Getting off yourself is less dangerous than getting bucked off. Sliding off from the side that feels safer is the ideal way to survive a buck with minimum impact.

After getting off your horse, try not to alarm it by running away, this can prompt it to do the same or, worse, run towards you. Walk away with the highest amount of calmness you can muster while keeping an eye on the horse.

Conclusion On How To Break A Horse From Bucking

Tips on how to break a horse from bucking should be handy for horse riders. Horses can buck for a lot of reasons, sometimes, for some beyond their control. The best way to handle it is to get yourself to safety and know why they bucked to prevent it from repeating itself. Having Horse rider insurance is also vital. We hope that the tips provided in this article will help you break a horse from bucking. 

If you have any questions on how to break a horse from bucking or you wish to give us feedback, or more insights on how to break a horse from bucking, please drop them in the comment section.


What causes a horse to buck?

A startled or annoyed horse will buck, as well as an irritated horse. Bucking can also be a response to irritations or pain. A horse will also buck when confused or excited, and sometimes bucking is just a horse’ version of a happy dance.

Do horses buck when happy?

When horses feel playful and excited, they can buck. The excitement of having to leave the stable after a long time can cause a horse to buck. You can say they release excess energy.

Why does my horse buck when I canter?

Confusion is the most common reason horse would buck when you canter. This is most common in young horses.

How do you tell if a horse is going to buck?

Body stiffness is one of the signs that tell a horse rider or owner that a is about to buck. Your horse will also act sluggish and you can notice a "decrease in length" and an "increase in its weight".