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Old 02-21-2008, 11:17 AM  
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Bucking at canter. Pain or training?? Need help!

I am at a loss as to what to do with this horse. I have posted on a private message board about her issues, but am getting a lot of mixed responses.

So far, I have put front wedge shoes on her because she has tender feet and NO heel growth.

I am looking into finding a chiro to check her out, but so far, she does not seem to have any sensitive spots on her back. I am also thinking about adding back shoes and maybe pads in the front??

On the lunge line WITHOUT tack, she canters like a dream. WITH tack she bucsk like a raging bronc.

When you get ON her, she's not as much of a bronc, but will swish her tail like crazy, pin her ears, and try to buck just about every stride. This is only at the canter. Also, she does not want to go into the canter and will refuse to unless you have a crop (don't even need to use it, she just sees it and will canter)Sometimes, I can get a few good strides in, but usually it is like riding a severe rocking horse because her rear end is going up in the air every other stride.

So, could this be pain? Or does this sound more like training?

At pasture, she is also fine to canter and has lovely folowing movement and nice flying changes.

This is a horse that is sweet as pie on the ground and awesome to walk/jog under saddle.
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Old 02-21-2008, 11:21 AM  
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All of the things you mentioned could probably go either way. The ground work being good, but with you or tack on her, she's acting up kinda throws a red flag up to me. But as I said could go both ways. I think I would have her checked out to rule out pain if she were mine. If nothing is found, at least you know and you can work on the training.
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Old 02-21-2008, 12:28 PM  
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I'd say pain first just because with out tack in general, she's fine with it.
Did you ever see or ride her before this habit started? Barring some sort of trauma, sounds like the saddle.
Have you tried a lot of different saddles? You don't have to be comfortable in them for her to be and if she bucks on a longe when she's tacked up then you won't have to risk your neck! Borrow saddles if need be. People always say get the help of a professional saddle fitter, and if you can find one thats an option. Or a book on saddle fitting.

Barring that its specific saddles, I'd try and get a chiro...I'm trying to find one right now and it's proving difficult...grumble grumble...
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Old 02-21-2008, 12:28 PM  
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I had a horse who bucked hard at a lope, ONLY with a rider. I found out that my saddle didn't fit, maybe that is her problem?
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Old 02-21-2008, 12:53 PM  
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Has she always had this issue or when did it start?

I would think it is a pain thing, but it may not be that she is currently in pain...it could be the memory of pain. I would definately get her back checked, and consider switching saddles and/or pads. I would also consider trying her without a saddle pad at all and see if that makes a difference. The girth may also be an issue, so perhaps try different types/styles of girths, and try putting the saddle further back.

If it is just a memory of pain, then you may have to convince her things are different now. Try a different type of saddle (english instead of western or vice-versa), different bridle, have her work over poles, follow another horse into the canter...just something to make her think things aren't the same and you might change the ingrained behaviour.

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Old 02-21-2008, 01:53 PM  
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I am unsure of her past history. All I could find out was that in October she was at another trainer's barn and she had the same issues. She was visibly lame with them, but has not been visibly lame with me. However, I put front shoes on her immediately. As I mentioned before, she is very tender in her feet and has no heel. I cannot believe they even rode her without shoes.
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Old 02-21-2008, 05:09 PM  
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I would say have a professional check her out and see what might be the issue when you are on her whether it is a pain issue or not. I've had horses do both, buck when you are off their back and when you are on they're fine, and yet have had horses fine off but when on they want to pitch. Its a catch 22, you dont really know until you can try and figure it out. If it is a training issue, you have some problems. If you cant get her to stop bucking with you I'd be safe and just send her to a pro trainer, it isn't worth getting hurt over especially if you do not know exactly what to do. Good luck!
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Old 02-21-2008, 05:33 PM  
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I've heard that ovaries can sometimes be the culprit. Sounds like a pain issue to me...
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Old 02-21-2008, 07:33 PM  
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Be it her feet or an ill fitting saddle, the additional weight may be beyond her tolerance level. Are you using and english or western saddle?
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Old 02-21-2008, 08:23 PM  
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It sounds like pain of some kind to me, too. I'd check the saddle's fit to BOTH the horse and the rider - a saddle that's too small makes the rider sit almost on the cantle, and then focused pressure is put on the back in a tender area. One kid at our old barn grew so fast over the summer that her stirrups were too short, but her mom (an 'ex' rider and a present-day 'horse mom') insisted that they were fine. Anyway, the kid sat too far back, and hurt the pony's loins, so she bucked at the canter. By the time their trainer got through to them, they were planning on injecting the pony's hocks. The trainer put the child into a larger saddle with longer stirrups, and the bucking magically stopped. Also, have you tried lunging before riding, in case it's a cold-back issue?
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Old 02-22-2008, 07:30 AM  
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Check the saddle fit, definately, but this may now be a habit, especially if you stop cantering when she bucks. This is a tough one. When you check out the saddle fit make sure it's set back far enough and then watch to see if the saddle shifts forward as she is lunged. If the saddle shifts onto her shoulders and then you ask for the canter and are leaning a bit forward, it's uncomfortable for her AND you've lightened up her butt so she can buck.

You might try asking for the canter, take 2 strides and bring her down to a trot before she can buck and then trot for a bit and ask for a couple strides of canter again.
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:32 AM  
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My first thought was that it is not pain because she doesnt do it when she is trotting.... Just a thought, no expert here. It could be saddle fit. I'd still check in with a vet and chiro though just to rule it out. Then go from there. Good luck. Lots of advice to weed through!
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:54 AM  
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I say saddle fit, only because my gelding did the same exact thing. If I rode in my English saddle he would crow hop and not mean buck but do the rocking horse thing and swish his tail, only at the lope. Even with my friends Western saddle, I was afraid to buy a Western saddle because I thought he hated the way the Western saddle felt, until he did it with the English one too! I bought a new Circle Y and a nice pad and it fit great and he never swished or crow hopped again, except in the English saddle. I got a different English saddle and he was fine with that too. I went through a lot of trial and error finding the problem, who knew poor saddle fit could cause so many problems?! But I guess as the rider if the saddle didn't fit me I wouldn't want to go any faster either! Just pictured my big butt in a pony saddle trying to lope or canter!
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Old 02-22-2008, 06:41 PM  
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I agree with using a different saddle! I had the same problem and I got a new saddle AND I found out my horse has MAJOR back issues. Some horses just have bad backs and may need frequent equine massage therapy visits!!! It could also be arthritis . . . a lot of vets don't check for invisible issues well enough. If she bucks at every stride, it sounds like shes saying OWWW!

Run your hand down the sides of your horses spine . . . does it flinch? If so you need a massage therapist.

Look from the hind end of your horse at its spine, are the vertebrae uneven? If so you need an equine chiropractor.

Listen for clicking in your horses joints.

The saddle needs to fit BOTH of you. If it fits you, your horse may be in horrid pain. If it fits your horse, you may have trouble riding, and end up placing pressure in the wrong spots.
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Old 02-22-2008, 06:42 PM  
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I forgot . . . if your horse bends its neck unevenly, then it also indicates a chiro problem.
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Old 02-22-2008, 06:45 PM  
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Always check for pain first, but in any case, I had a horse like this... well not had, but rode and worked with. He was fine with most things, but when he was asked to canter, he would buck like a bronc, leap in the air, twist and everything until the rider was off. He got me off one day 4 times in a row and he was 18hh! I worked with him for a few months after and did A LOT of ground work and manners... since, to my knowledge, he hasn't bucked. I think he just didnt know and/or understand it. Good luck
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:05 PM  
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It's rather difficult for a horse to buck at the trot, but the canter sets him up for bucking as it's an enlargement of the stride.
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:41 PM  
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Thank you everyone

I have a vet coming out in a few days to do a soundness exam and check her back.

The saddle does fit me. It "appears" to fit the horse, but I am not a saddle fitting pro by ANY means. It could be that it doesn't fit

I have lunged her before riding and she will still buck every stride at the canter. I do not let her stop ... I can canter her for 15 minutes and she'll still try to buck, LOL.

The ONLY time she has never bucked was in deep, soft sand. She wrnt like a dream and appeared to be very well trained at the canter. It was very smooth, VERY collected, and so nice to ride! I wish I could get that every time I cantered!!

I did speak with a chiro, too, but he wants to see what the vet has to say before he works on her.
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Old 02-22-2008, 09:16 PM  
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Sounds like a sore back, or kidney infection. put preasure on each side of the back bone all the way to the tail bone, then put preasure right in front of the hip bones (that would be kidneys) I have a horse that always has a sore back,and kidney infections and they will throw you off, I was dumped RIDER ERROR didnt check first. chiropractor would help too. pears and unsweetened cranberry juice great for kidneys. good luck P.M me and let me know how things are going.. dashy
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Old 02-22-2008, 09:33 PM  
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I had an Arab mare that would buck if I asked her to do anything more than trot, I tried several different saddles on her and eventually had to have my 17 yr old son ride out the bucks and she eventually got better, but every now and again she try to buck all I would do is pull her head back up and she would stop. You seem to be covering your bases, hopefully her soundness exam goes well, and your horse gets past this stage. Good Luck!!
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