Most horses and ponies are fairly well behaved. If they’ve been trained properly, and have lived happy lives, they won’t be interested in dumping their riders on the ground.
But a few horses pick up bad habits during their lives, and sometimes their behavior can be dangerous. Bad habits such as bucking, rearing, bolting, biting and kicking are hard to break.
If you can’t stop your horse’s naughty behavior, consider selling him to someone who can deal with his problems better than you can. Riding is supposed to be fun, and if your horse kicks you on purpose or dumps you every time you ride, it might be time to say "Adios” to him. There are plenty of good horses in the world, and there’s one out there just waiting for you to find him.
Let’s take a look at five dangerous behaviors, and look at ways to conquer them.
Remember, if your horse is truly dangerous ask a trainer to help you. Don’t try to solve the problems yourself.
Bucking is when a horse puts his head down and kicks his back end and legs into the air. It’s usually caused by high spirits or ill-fitting tack. But, it can also be caused by naughtiness. The most important thing to do when riding a bucking bronco is to keep his head up, and to keep him moving forward at all times. If a horse is moving, it’s difficult for him to buck.
If you feel a buck coming on, shorten your reins and kick your horse to make him walk forward briskly. Pick up the trot and school him in circles so he’s got something to concentrate on and he forgets about bucking. If you’re small and find it hard to keep up your horse’s head, ask an adult to put grass reins on him so he can’t put his head down so easily.
Rearing is when a horse lifts his front legs into the air and stands on his hind legs. Rearing is extremely dangerous, because it’s easy for a horse to tip over backwards and fall on his rider. A horse can’t rear if he’s moving forward, so keep a rearer moving—especially if you’re in a situation where you think he might rear, for instance at a show at the arena gate. Tap him with a whip behind your leg if he doesn’t listen to your legs.
If a horse you’re riding rears, loosen the reins and lean forward. Some people wrap their arms around the horse’s neck. Never pull back on the reins, because you’ll unbalance him, and he might fall over. If a horse starts falling backwards while you’re riding him, drop your stirrups and bail out. Try to fall to the side of him so he doesn’t fall on you.
A horse may run off with a rider because he’s frightened of something, and wants to get away from it. Others bolt when you’re going fast and they get excited. Bolting is dangerous. When a horse is out of control, he can trip in a hole or run into a fence. If you’re riding a bolting horse, the first thing you must do is circle, circle and circle! Shorten one rein and physically pull the horse’s head towards your knee. He won’t be able to run if you’re circling, and he’ll have to slow down.
If a horse is a bolter, don’t ride him with a loose rein. Always keep enough contact so that you can stop him quickly if he decides to take off at top speed. You may also need to use a stronger bit, so when you pull on the reins he pays attention to your hands.
Biting is often caused by hand feeding treats. A horse that is fed loads of tidbits starts to expect them. If you don’t have a treat, he might bite you while looking for one. Feed all treats in a bucket so he doesn’t take the treat from your hand.
Young horses are often biters. Biting their pals is part of their playtime. Tie up a young horse fairly short, so he can’t turn around and bite you. Stay out of biting range until he grows up a bit.
If your horse tries to bite you, swat him on the nose and say "no” in a firm voice. Then go about your business as before. Don’t swat your horse a lot, though, because eventually he’ll think that you’re playing and pull back before you can swat him. Until you solve the problem, keep a muzzle on him while you’re grooming and tacking up.
If you’ve got a kicker, it’s best to let a horsey adult discipline him. When a horse kicks, he must be punished immediately. Some people say, "kick him back” but this is too dangerous. Carry a crop around him, and if he strikes out at you, smack him with the crop on the rump or hindquarters right away.
If he kicks out while you’re grooming him, you might be tickling him. Brush him lightly, and be gentle around sensitive areas on his body. If he kicks another horse while you’re riding him, swat him with a crop on the hindquarters immediately so he knows that he’s being punished for kicking. If you ride a kicker, tie a red ribbon on his tail when you ride with others to warn them that he might kick.