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Why is my horse bucking into canter?


Clydesdale, leaning on the bit with incorrect bend. He is struggling to hold himself

There are several answers to this question, which in turn lead to more questions. Is my horse balanced? Is my horse in pain? Is my horse naughty? What do I do when my horse starts to buck?


It is important, when investigating any abnormal behaviour in horses, to first rule out a few factors. This is a basic check list to help with this investigatory process:


- Equine Physio. Ensure your horses has the thumbs up from your body worker!

- Equine Dentist. Ensure your horses teeth are up to date with checks and pain free.

- Tack check. Ensure your saddle and other tack in fitting correctly and comfortably.


Clydesdale bucking into canter

So we have the physical all clear, great! But why is my horse bucking into canter and how can I stop it?


I was recently asked by a client to have a sit on her Clydesdale and see what I think. After weeks of struggling with his bucks into and during canter my client decided enough is enough and they need some help!


After finding my way up to the top of this huge 18.2hh man, I rode him both in walk and trot and assessed his way of going. A few of my observations included him leaning onto my left rein and leg which in turn made him unlevel and unblanced.


Unbalaced! This is a very common reason for bucking into a canter transition, and with a bit of work and a magic pole we got the big unbalced lad cantering beautiful 20m circles by the end of 5 days schooling!!


So how did we help him?


We first focused on exercises to help balance and support the walk and tort - these exercises can be found here.



Uphill canter transition with no bucks over a pole sat in the corner

Once we had a more balanced walk and trot we began to work on our canter transitions. To help the horse move forward into an uphill, balanced canter we placed one pole in the corner of the arena and used this to ask for the transition. This sounds very simple, as yes it really is, but it is oh so effective! I have used this pole on many horses having difficulties with their canter work and it has not failed me yet!


Once the horse could perform and balanced uphill transition, the canter its self improved and became uphill and balanced.


In 5 days we went from bucks all the way along the long side of the arena to calm, balanced transitions and canter work on circles!



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