North Carolina 11 year old Paso Fino with Professional Training ridden in Paso bit (spoon) and Tucker plantation saddle in pasture by intermediate rider.

Question: My Paso has started bucking.  He wants to go so badly that he starts bucking.  Sometimes I can get him to calm down and other times, he goes into a full bucking  experience, throwing me off and bucking another 100 feet or so.  We trail ride only.  He
is well cared for.  This has become a Hugh problem and I am thinking of selling him before I get hurt.  I am very attached to this horse and would hate to do this but I'm really afraid to ride him now.

When he starts the bucking, I try to turn him in a circle, this only aggravates him more.  I have tried trying to calm him down by rubbing his neck, nothing works.  I immediately get back on (knees knocking) so he's not getting away with anything.  I have not changed his bit or headstall or anything that might cause him to start this new behavior.

I have heard once they start this, it is very hard to get them to quit.  What are your suggestions.

From Panelist Erica

It sounds like this is a pain problem. What gives me this impression is that he keeps bucking even once you are out of the saddle. Despite the saddle not being changed, your horse has most likely changed in it's body muscling and thus you could have more pressure points in some areas more than before. Or.. he could need his teeth checked. Bit fit is crucial - as is saddle fit - to a healthy, happy and responsive horse! I think it would be worth the money to have this guy checked by a vet (teeth and body for sore spots),
have your saddle professionally fitted, and even have a chiropractor (equine) check his back for misalignment. You would be surprised how many horses have problems with their backs and it is usually the last, if ever, checked place for problems. 

If all of those check out, I would basically start him over again from scratch. Do all work from the ground and slowly work him back up to accepting the saddle. He may not be totally desensitized to it yet. And.. I never recommend using a back cinch on a western saddle as it is too easy for it to slip back and become a "bucking strap". Does he buck on the lunge? With any other rider? These are all good questions to evaluate. Also, are
you causing a bucking spell with your body language in the saddle? Do you hold on with your legs while riding? Do you wear spurs - could you accidentally bumped him into bucking? Also, the bit you are riding in is VERY severe - as are most specialty bits for Paso's and I would definitely consider him disliking the bit. Some horses are more tolerable about pain/discomfort than others and yours may not be one of them. Or
perhaps he has been showing his discomfort in smaller amounts prior and has gotten fed
up with not being noticed and has made his feelings more adamant.    Once a horse has started bucking - it is not USUALLY because they want to or feel they want to buck you off purposefully. Horses do not have the ability to plan and scheme - they don't go out to pasture at night and start thinking of things to do in the saddle tomorrow if you ride them.
If a horse knows the answer to something they will do it. When a horse starts any poor
behavior - rearing, bucking, kicking, biting, bolting, etc - there is a reason for it. You just have to look hard enough to find it and try to remedy it. 

I also want to say - that I definitely recommend you wear a helmet when working with or riding your horse. I wear a helmet whenever I ride or handle a dangerous horse. It has saved my life more than once - and it only takes once without one to be the last! I wish you the best of luck with him!


From Panelist Stella

He's likely not wanting to go so badly as get away from something, and that is usually either pain or fear. If he is bucking, I'd say you likely have an  ill-fitting saddle that over time, has finally created a problem. The fact  that you mentioned turning aggravates him more, leads me to believe this. It  may be that if you have been using this same saddle all these years, it may have initially fit better, but horses do change shape-gain or lose  weight...conditioning builds up the shoulders, so does maturity.

Male Paso  Finos tend not to "fill out," become muscularly mature, especially thru the 
neck and shoulders, til they are 7-8 years old(in human males you will see  differences between 20yos and 30s too). Animals outgrow saddles just like kids outgrow shoes and clothes; even adults need changes in clothing sizes if more active, inactive, etc. Check your saddle out thoroughly, too...the panels can get uneven from improper storage, stiff from lack of care/wetness  coming thru a pad, etc. Make sure tree is still intact...

Many horses are very stoic about tolerating a little pain and not complaining until the situation gets to a point of not being able to bear it anymore, as any damage done increases the pain. YOU may want tocheck his back yourself by palpating the muscles and vertabrae of the spine,but if  you're not sure how, or where your saddle may be causing a
problem and aren't sure about fit or condition, get someone who does. A vet exam would 
help,too. One ailment, fistula of the wither, may not be so apparent until the infection surfaces, as it can be quite deep, and needs to be drained. If  you love this horse, it will be well worth it...the next one may not measure  up in other respects. Before selling him, make sure it isn't something that can't be fixed safely. Your horse is simply trying to tell you
something in the only other way it knows how that will "get your attention"...he may have 
been trying to in other ways that you simply didnt pick up on...


From Panelist Liz

 I might have this horses back checked for being sore or out of alignment. Is the saddle pinching or any pressure points. Sometimes it can take a bit of time for this to show up or if a horse has gained or lost weight this will also change the fit of your saddle. Yes
once this starts it can be a tough one to break but when it starts out of the blue after a long period with out the behavior it is a sign that something is wrong. So the search should be on to find out what it could be.



Back to main page
Ask a Trainer