A rearing horse puts your safety at risk. Whether on the ground or under saddle, this behavioral problem is no fun to deal with. As a horse owner, you must realize that your horse is expressing himself for a reason. It’s your job to find out why, and how you can put a stop it before someone gets hurt.
Why do horses rear?
- Physical pain of an unfit or unhealthy horse
- Discomfort from poorly fitting tack
- Confusion or fear from rider’s aids
- An abundance of energy
What is the solution?
First, get a veterinarian to rule out physical pain. Have a saddle fitter, your trainer, or an experienced eye look over your tack to check for the correct fit, as well. It is extremely wise to work with a trainer in rearing situations, especially if you’re inexperienced. Many rearing issues are because of the rider.
Depending on your situation, discard harsh bits. You never want to pull both reins aggressively or yank down harshly on the lead rope. This can intensify a confused or frightened horse. While tie downs temporarily fix the problem, they are useless in the long run.
Increasing the amount of time your horse is turned out can be a simple fix for those with too much energy. Many horses require time to stretch their legs and get out bucks, rears, and kicks.
You’ll want to work on the following: keeping your horse long and low, teaching him to disengage his hindquarters, actively moving forward, holding his attention, staying calm, and using your hands softly.
Lower his head!
A horse with a lowered head can’t rear. Teach your horse this cue on the ground first. You’ll want to begin with a halter and lead rope. Apply pressure to the poll of your horse. Immediately release the pressure once he lowers his head. After he understands the cue, it’s time to move to the bridle and bit.
- Pick a side to begin on. Let’s start with the right. Hold the right rein halfway between the bit and saddle horn.
- Apply pressure by bringing your right hand and rein to the crest of his neck (the halfway point between the wither and poll).
- Hold the pressure until he drops his head. Immediately release the entire rein. Do not budge for tossing or throwing of the head.
- Repeat on the other side.
You’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of you. It means evaluating yourself as a rider and checking your tack. You need to look for the small signals that something is wrong. With patience, things can eventually work out.