Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Rearing or Pulling Back when Led in Hand

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • To rule out physical issues that may be causing the problem.
  • Some vets have valuable advice regarding behavioral and training issues.

Rearing when led in hand is a highly undesirable behavior that can be dangerous to people and fatal to a horse. It needs to be resolved. Horses are taught to rear in the same way that they are taught to engage in many other unwanted behaviors. They perceive the behavior to be easier and more rewarding than alternative (desirable) behaviors.

Like many evasive habits, rearing can also be a response to pain. A variety of physical problems may cause a horse to rear. Mouth pain, wounds or injuries to the head and neck, and (rarely) undiagnosed lameness can cause a horse to rear. Your vet can help you determine whether this behavior is a result of physical pain.


If a physical cause is ruled out, look to your own technique and others who have handled your horse as both the cause of the problem and the solution. A horse’s natural response to pressure is to pull against it. In proper halter training, horses are taught instead to yield to pressure.

Engage a trainer who knows how to stop this behavior. Your vet may also have some suggestions for managing or resolving this problem from a training standpoint.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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