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Broke Mare Suddenly Rearing

15 August 2011 No Comment

Broke Mare Suddenly Rearing
We asked horse training expert Rhett Russell.
More on Rhett.

Dear Rhett:
Two days ago, a 5-year-old mare that has been on many trail rides and 40 km endurance rides was taken out for a ride. She had not been working for few months and was not in season. Prior to the ride, she was lunged for 30 minutes then bridled & saddled up and walked with no problem. She was calm and relaxed. When I decided to get on her, she immediately reared and fell on her side, my leg was squashed under her belly, luckily I and her suffered no permanent injury.
We then walked her and checked her to make sure she was not injured or in pain. I then tried to get on her again. My friend was holding the reins to ensure I was not pulling on them to cause the initial rearing With just my weight on the stirrup (not mounted yet), she immediately reared again (a bigger rear)and fell on her back onto barb wire fence and rolled on her side. She was in shock for couple of minutes on her side before getting up. Luckily she had only minor cut from barb wire and I did jump off to avoid serious injury.
My friend (the owner) then walked her round, tried mounting her from
mounting block and after about 40 minutes of trying, she was successfully
mounted. We walked and trotted for about 30 minutes (I was on another
horse). Then dismounted and mounted again without problem. We then put her back into her yard.
What could be the cause of a horse behaving this way? I thought once a horse was broke, it would not revert to the behavior of an unbroken horse. If there is no physical defect or pain suffered by the horse, would a horse revert? If yes, what should one do (i.e. what should a rider check or assess before getting on) to stay safe when one goes to ride unfamiliar horses? In this instance, I and horse were luckily not injured by the event.


Hi Terrence:
Your experience sounds like it could have easily ended up with injuries for either you or the horse. Without being there to check out the horse, I have to trust that this is truly a “broke” horse. A horse with a good foundation may have an occasional setback or two — this is to be expected. Training is a continual lifelong deal for both you and the horse. You need to anticipate issues/problems but not to the point of being paranoid – don’t just file this away as the horse had a problem.
Given that, there should be no reason for this type of thing to happen other than something like poor saddle fit, physical problems, or you may have done something to initiate the behavior.
Let’s start with the easy things and look at saddle fit first. Are you using a different saddle than you normally do with the horse? How does the saddle fit the horse? Is there enough room for the wither and shoulder to move freely? How does the girth fit? Were there any sores/galls where the cinch fell? How tight was the cinch? Were you using a rear cinch. You need to rule out all of the saddle/tack fit issues to make sure that this won’t cause future problems.
You should also check for physical problems with the horse. Your veterinarian, an equine chiropractor or someone knowledgeable with equine physiology should be able to help you determine if something is out of whack. You really need to check this out.
How is your mounting technique? Do you pull on the cantle and horn while mounting; in effect pulling the horse over? Are you too big for the horse? Does the combination of your mounting technique and saddle fit cause the horse problems?
As you can tell, there are a lot of things that can cause this type of behavior.
The good thing that came about this is that the horse told you something. She has an issue with mounting. It could be saddle fit, a physical problem, you, or something else completely. Or it could be a combination of these things. You know what to work on with this horse. Obviously, there is a gap somewhere – it’s up to you (and your equine health professional) to figure out what it is.
Good Luck and please keep me posted with your success,

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