Saturday, June 13, 2015

Two Big Bucks

I read an interesting article the other day about equine meltdowns that made a lot of sense to me.  When horses spook or otherwise have a stress attack, it is often the culmination of many smaller inputs.  Let's call a horses comfort level 50%, with nervous kicking in at 75% and total meltdown when the 100% line is crossed.  The math varies depending on the horse and rider.  Inputs can be positive (feeling GOOOOD) as well as negative.

Scenario One
25% - confused about job
25% - saddle is uncomfortable
25% - rider is strong with hands
25% - it's feeding time
25% - something changed position around the arena (a chair, a jump, a tractor)
Total: 125% = big spook at strange thing in/near the arena

Friday morning, Lucy gave me her own example.  Each of the situations, alone, would be fine.  All together -- not so much.

25% - early morning, cool weather, feeling peppy
25% - did some canter work, Lucy wants to do more, not happy with just trotting
25% - a truck is coming down the gravel/dirt road next to the arena
25% - Mufasa leaves the arena to walk around under the (man-eating) trees
25% - the truck is towing a boat and the trailer is bumping and rattling down the road
Total = Two HUGE bucks.

Fortunately, I was sitting deep and balanced so I didn't loose my seat.  Lucy did her bucking and stopped.  I tried to find the bucking strap while she was bucking but it was buried in her mane.  I thought of Sandy's nickname for the bucking strap.  She was on a horse that started bucking and realized that there was no strap.  She yelled to friend/client/owner/groom (not sure) "Get me a bucking strap!" -- and the person heard "Get me a f*cking strap."  So, as Lucy was bucking, I was thinking "Where's the f*cking strap!"

The truck and boat continued on their way; Brett came back into the arena with Mufasa; and Lucy and did some lovely trot work before calling it a morning.


  1. I read that article too and it made so much sense. Now when I'm riding Carmen I'm trying to do the math in my head. Well not really, but to see if there's a bunch of stuff adding up and if I think 'yes' then I try to do something that will take it down a notch.

    good for you for sitting the bucks. I too would have been thinking 'where's the f*cking strap'. :) I have one too on my saddle.

  2. It is helpful to have a concrete representation of what might be going on. When I'm working with dogs, it's the same thing. Sometimes they reach overload and can't hold it together anymore. Boat on a trailer was a big provocation to end on:)

  3. Horses are so aware of their environment! I will need to look up what a bucking strap is. I can't imagine trying to do something with as strap whilst being bucked! When they buck are they really trying to throw the rider so they have one less thing to think about?


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