Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Rearing while Under Saddle

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

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

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If this is a new behavior and you fear it is due to a physical problem.

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

  • If you have questions about how management or feeding might affect this.
  • If you have other questions or concerns about the horse.
  • Some vets have valuable advice regarding behavioral and training issues.

Rearing with a rider in the saddle is a dangerous habit that needs to be resolved. Horses are taught to rear in the same way they are taught to engage in many other unwanted behaviors. They perceive the behavior to be easier and more rewarding than alternative (desirable) behaviors. Rearing may begin as a response to discomfort. Rearing is a natural escape, and they have gotten relief from it, and so continue the behavior.

Rearing is often a response to pain. A variety of physical problems may cause a horse to rear including mouth problems (loose wolf tooth, mouth wound, a snaffle that pinches the corner of the mouth), ill-fitting tack, or lameness due to undiagnosed injury. Your vet can help you determine whether this behavior is a result of physical pain.

WHAT TO DO

If a physical cause is ruled out, look to yourself, your own riding technique and others who have handled your horse as both the cause of the problem and the solution. Engage a trainer who knows how to stop this behavior. Do not ride the horse again until the problem has been addressed.

A horse’s natural response to pressure is to pull against it. In proper halter training, horses are taught instead to yield to pressure. The problem most often starts because of a rider’s careless and random pressure on the mouth. The horse rears, the rider releases the reins. Quickly the horse learns to rear. The elements of the problem are usually present when you are handling your horse from the ground. Thus, much of the problem can usually be worked through on the ground, rather than from the dangerous position of being in the saddle.

What Not To Do

Unless you know exactly how to solve the problem, do not try to correct it.

Do not use gadgets of any kind to solve this problem. A gadget is rarely the solution to any horse behavioral problem.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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