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So how do you stop a horse from rearing?
First, let’s take a look at anatomy of a horse while it rears. A horse cannot rear while running. A horse must stop (or be barely moving) to be able to rear. If a rider has had enough experience on a horse he can feel when horse gets light in front. In a way, it would be a bit like sitting in middle of a teeter-totter where you can feel one side getting light.
So, if a horse has to stop to rear up then it makes sense to keep horse moving so it cannot rear up. Thus, if you feel your horse getting light in front then you move him forward and do it with meaning. Not just a patient “cluck” from your mouth. Do it like you mean it. And it’s also important he has a place to go forward – don’t have him blocked in by anything.
If your horse rears up and you weren’t ready for it then lean forward and give your horse loose reins. As soon as your horse’s feet are almost back to ground then make your horse go forward. Let horse know, with no doubt whatsoever, to go forward. Boot horse “hard” into going forward. When your horse has gone forward a little ways then double him and drive him forward out of double. Then double him other way and drive him forward from it also. Then bring your horse to a stop.
What does it mean to “double” your horse? Essentially, you will pull his head back one way towards his hind quarters. The moment he is committed to turn then boot him forward. This impresses upon your horses mind that you can control him.
Other so-called “schools of thought” to stop rearing are to hit a horse over head with a two-by-four when he rears up. I’ve even read where people break beer bottles over horse’s head. Some people use handle end of a riding crop. Not only are these inhumane ways to stop rearing, they are rarely, if ever, effective. They don’t teach a horse anything except to fear rider. Hitting a horse over head when you are trying to build a trust relationship will destroy all you’ve worked for.
As is almost always case, best way to get a horse to do what you want is to use psychology of horse. Get him to move and you can accomplish miracles.
Andy Curry is a nationally known horse trainer and author of several best selling horse training and horse care books. For information visit his website at www.horsetrainingandtips.com. He is also the leading expert on Jesse Beery's horse training methods which can be seen at www.horsetrainingandtips.com/Jesse_Beerya.