Question: “I have a 2 year old I gelded 2 months ago. He’s the 7th horse I’ve started. I felt as though he was very solid on his ground work (I’ve had him for 6 months) and I can sit on him without any reaction. I got to the point where he was walking around, stopping and guiding with a saddle and side pull. We were progressing in small increments (3 days mounted) until he heard horse whinny. He stopped and didn’t go forward with a cluck. I tried to get his feet to move by turning him toward the center of the pen. His head went up and he snorted so I bumped him with my legs to get him to go forward as we have done from the beginning. He’s never objected to pressure before (on the ground or mounted). He got a little “goosey” and I relaxed trying to get him to settle. Instead, he cracked in half in a full buck. I got to watch him buck around after he got me on the ground. Yes, it was “real” bucking. I got back on him and walked him around. He was unfocused and wound up like a spring. I got off and lunged him. He was broncky, but no full bucks even when I had different things hanging off his sides as well as under his belly. After he was breathing hard and tired, I tied him in his stall for an hour so the stall wasn’t his reward. I’m back to walking around, but I’m concerned if I come off again, it will become a mind set and pattern. I can’t figure out what set him off as the others I started weren’t hard core buckers. He’s a large pony, and I thought I could handle the process in my 60’s, but now I’m having self doubts.”

Martin’s Answer: “The problem I see a lot of people making is they desensitize the colts to the point they have little self preservation left, or they get too much of the life out of them, then try to bring the life up by bring some self-preservation back into them and it comes out in the form of resentment or getting scared and buck. It can be just as dangerous getting to much awareness out of them as it is leaving to much awareness in them. You have to learn how to balance that then you don’t have the problem you ask about.

But at 60 I would look for a young durable rider to put a few rides on it then get on when things were moving along.”