I get asked all the time, “Why does my horse buck?”
The short answer to that question is, “Your horse bucks because he’s trying to tell you that something is wrong.” Bucking, like running, is your horse’s way of communicating with you. It is usually part of his fight-or-flight reflex.
But answering the question of why a specific horse bucks is a little more complicated because not every horse bucks for the same reasons.
“Something wrong” can run the gamut from physical ailments to the mental/emotional stress of an ill-fitting career or poor living conditions.
Physical Causes of Horse Bucking
Like us, horses object to working when their bodies hurt. Physical issues that might cause your horse to buck include ulcers and digestive problems, sharp teeth, sore feet, or a sore back.
Horses also buck because they are overfed and underworked, or out of sheer exuberance. If you horse bucks, the first step is to have a veterinarian give him a thorough exam to rule out physical pain. If your veterinarian does find physical problems, take whatever steps necessary to solve those problems, whether it be chiropractic work, a float, different shoes or boots, or supplements to help with digestion.
If you horse passes the vet’s exam with flying colors, compare his level of feed with his level of work. Many an overfed and underworked horse bucks because he has too much energy, and nothing constructive to do with it. If your horse is not in regular work, consider cutting back on the grain or alfalfa portion of his diet, but not his fiber (beet pulp or grass hay).
What About Non-Physical Reasons Horses Buck?
Once you’ve checked and addressed any physical issues that might be causing your horse to buck, it’s time to consider mental and emotional causes.