'Oh Crap' Moment of the Day: Naughty horse move #114

A.k.a. the dreaded “jump-buck-spin.” Heard of it? Here are some examples–and some strategies for nipping it in the bud.

Demonstration, please:


And one more, just to be sure:


Yikes. Is the old “jump-buck-spin” a move that your horse pulls on you? Here are some tips for getting past it:

Rule out physical problems. Make sure the bad behavior isn't actually an expression of discomfort due to a soundness issue or ill-fitting tack.

Rule out the possibility that YOU are the problem. Have someone watch to make sure you're not landing heavy on your horse's back or balancing on his mouth, both of which could be creating a negative reaction on the landing side of the fence.

Solidify your position. Be secure and defensive over the fence–shoulders back, upper body tall, heels down–while allowing your horse to jump freely, a.k.a. no hauling back on the reins. Grab mane or add a neck strap for extra support.

Don't shoot first. Upon landing, you may feel the urge to launch a preemptive strike against the buck but this can actually perpetuate the cycle. Eventually your horse may even become reluctant to jump because he associates jumping with punishment. Instead, stay calm, upright and balanced, with your leg wrapped firmly around your horse's ribcage–ready for anything but not anticipating it.

Ride forward and straight. For your horse to buck, he has to first slow down, lower his head and “coil” his body. Try to keep his ears up (lift a rein without pulling back) and his feet moving (leg ON!). Likewise, the spin begins with a dropped shoulder. Keep his shoulders straight in front of you, like the rails of a train track.

Give him something to think about after the fence. Something as simple as a ground pole three strides out, a turn or a forwardly-ridden transition can help divert his energy in a positive direction.

Ask for help. If you're not up to the task of riding out the problem yourself, enlist the expertise of a professional trainer. Be 100% honest about the behavior beforehand so that they don't get an unexpected surprise!

Got it? Good. Go riding!


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