Colts That Buck

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Buster McLaury offers a tip for those with broncy, young horses.

 Zane Cummings hangs onto a young gelding on a ranch in West Texas.
Zane Cummings hangs onto a young gelding on a ranch in West Texas.

“If a horse blows up and bucks when you saddle him the first two or three days, it’s not a big deal,” says Buster McLaury. “Because it’s something brand new to him, and he just panics. It would be like some big ol’ boy grabbing you and saying, ‘Here, give me a piggy back ride!’ You don’t know who he is or what his intentions are. You would buck and bawl and panic, too.”

McLaury, a horseman and clinician based in Paducah, Texas, says it’s key for the rider to stay calm and help the horse understand that it isn’t in harm’s way.

“Usually, especially if you turn him out in a big pen and get him moving around, well he gets that worked out to where carrying a rider is not that big a deal,” McLaury says. “Bucking doesn’t feel any better to the horse than it does to us. So any time a horse struggles with something, once he gets just a little better at it, boy, you immediately reward him. Stop, pet him, let him sit there and think about it. You can’t force anything on him.”

 Buster McLaury advises riders to consider the horse's perspective.
Buster McLaury advises riders to consider the horse’s perspective.

McLaury believes that most horses begin bucking out of fear and misunderstanding. In that case, the rider must figure out how to show the horse that everything is okay. Often, time and patience are the key. Stay relaxed and let the horse think through the situation. If the horse doesn’t begin to improve, consider getting help from another horseman.

“We just need to learn to present our ideas to the horse in a manner that he can understand,” McLaury says. “Ray Hunt always said if the human could just learn to give 5 percent, the horse would come up with the other 95 percent. But a lot of folks don’t have that 5 percent to give. Maybe they don’t realize it’s that important. I think everyone could get along with their horse if they just saw things more from the horse’s point-of-view.”


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