Cuttin Horse Plain

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How to Get a Horse Under Control?

Some horses don't listen to you, and others just get plain out of control. A crazy horse can hurt not only himself but also his rider, and the behavior must be dealt with immediately.


Relax first if your horse is acting up while you are riding. Horses can sense nervousness and tension, and it will affect their performance. Even if you are nervous, scared, or tense, try not to let the horse know it.

Check your riding position. Are you clenching the horse with your heels? This may cause him to go faster. Are you yanking on his mouth or holding your reins high and tight? Both of these things may confuse and/or agitate your horse. If you are doing something like this, fix it.

Try riding him in a tight circle or a figure eight if your horse is still jumpy. Show him that you are the boss, but don't haul on his head. If you are riding in a group, get your instructor's permission to let you use the whole arena for a minute so you can get your horse under control.

Think about why your horse is misbehaving. Is it storming or about to storm? Is something nearby making a loud noise? Is another horse crowding him? If none of these things are happening, keep reading.

Inspect the horse's tack. If you find any of the following defects in the tack, replace it immediately. Check for:

Worn-out leather that might rub

Pieces of tack that are too tight or too loose

Sharp objects embedded in or rough edges on the saddle

Consider that the girth may be rubbing. Try a different type of girth and see if his behavior improves. If he is wearing a breastcollar, see if it is too tight (it may be pinching him) or too loose (it may be bouncing around and annoying or rubbing on him). Ideally, you should be able to fit about four fingers under the breastcollar. The bit may also be pinching his mouth or too strong for him. If you have a gently curb or snaffle bit, stick with it, but if you have a stronger curb, kimberwik, or gag, consider switching to a gentler bit.

Try changing the way you are controlling the horse. Remember, every horse is different. If you usually ride a horse that needs strong cues and you have gotten in the habit of practically kicking to make him speed up, consider that this horse may not need such an aggressive kick. Try using softer aids and don't pull so hard on his mouth.

Take off a crop, double bridle, or spurs if you're using them. They may scare the horse, annoy him, or he just may dislike them. The horse may not need artificial aids.

Consult your veterinarian if the tack fits and you're riding well but the bad behavior continues. Maybe the horse has a sore back or other physical problem, especially if this behavior is out of character for him.

Spin the horse in a tight circle if you ever feel like you are out of control on a horse. Don't panic! Just make sure your actions are clear to him and that what he is doing will not get him any where.


Try to give a horse something to do other than the undesired behavior. For example, if your horse is thinking about spooking, just squeeze hard with your legs to tell him, "Forward!"

If you are worried about being injured but can't switch horses, use peacock (safety) stirrups, wear a helmet, and remember not to ride in tennis shoes. Always wear boots. Gloves are also a good idea, because they give you a better grip on the reins.

Some horses will respond with almost no aids. Just shift your weight and bring your hands forward, and see if he responds.

Maybe part of the problem is that you are moving against the horse and not with him. When you are riding, sway with the horse.

Sometimes horses will disrespect you because they do not know you. Take some time to sit near your horse and pat him. Feed him some carrots and groom him. Try to get used to him and form a stronger bond.

Lungeing is a great way to get the "good stuff" out of a horse. Every time they buck, tell them "Good job. Keep going!"


Do not get angry with your horse, because anger can only lead to problems.

A rearing problem can be dangerous if you don't know what you are doing. Get an experienced rider to school a rearing horse.

If your tack is the cause of the problem, replace it immediately. The defect will only get worse over time.

Things You'll Need


Riding skills

Soft hands

Un-clenched heels

Tack (saddle pad, saddle, bridle, and maybe a halter just in case you fall)

and of course, a horse!


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