Horse Training Tips – Bucking

Dear Friend and Horseman,

Welcome to another Horse Training Tips Newsletter.

In this issue I’m going to answer questions that were sent in by my members and subscribers. One question in particular was very good so I’m going to really focus on it. I think you’ll get a lot out of this… especially if you start any colts.

Speaking of starting colts, I want to spotlight one of my members who recently had some success with one of the colts that he started. I’ve reprinted his email here so you can read it for yourself. I thought he did absolutely great.

Here’s what he wrote:

Hi Larry,
I just wanted to write and tell you about my recent success through using your training videos.

I manage a large ranch in northern Arizona where we raise reg. Quarter Horses along with commercial cattle.

Although I’ve had years of experience with horses and have broke several colts in the past, last year I ordered your “Colt Starting Magic” videos along with the “Stopping Light and Collected” and “Rollbacks and Spins” videos.

Using your methods I started a 2yr. old stallion last spring. I rode him lightly this past fall during our works and then 90 days ago really started tuning him. Again, using your methods in the videos.

I entered the colt in Arizona’s largest Ranch Horse Competition and sale which is open to all ages of horses. There were 57 entries and at least 7 states represented.

To make a long story short…

We didn’t win first place BUT we made the finals and finished 9th overall. Many people were absolutely amazed at how such a young stallion could be so broke and compete in a class with older, more experienced horses.

Thank you Larry for putting your years and years of learning, through trial and error, into a few hours of excellent videos. I’ve watched them over and over and will continue to in the future.

What a treasure your videos are. Keep up the good work! I will be ordering more in the future and highly recommend them to everyone who is serious about truly getting between a horses ears and perfecting the training process.

Your friend,
Phil Straley

My comments:

Wow Phil, what can I say? Thank you, thank you for the kind words and letting me know that my videos were a help. You obviously did a fantastic job with your colt. Congratulations and I wish you continued success.

Okay, lets get started with the training questions

Here is an excellent question about colts that buck:

Hi Larry,

Thanks for your helpful tips. I really appreciated your solution to the “spooking” problem. I gave it a try and it really worked. I didn’t have to walk home on foot.

I have a question related to training colts. I have no problem getting my youngsters moving from walk to trot and back to walk, but some of them don’t want to canter – either bucking or crow-hopping in response.

How do you control this? The bucking can come from the excitement of speed or from resentment of being asked to move faster.

I don’t overwork my youngsters, seldom riding more than 20-30 minutes and stopping on a good note when they perform some request well, even if it isn’t the request I wanted to practice.

Any tips?


Diane McCluskey

My comments:

Hi Diane,
Your question is one of the best I’ve ever received. It is a problem that many people experience and don’t know what to do about it. I hope I can shed some light here in this newsletter.

Anyway, I’ll try to offer a solution that has worked well for me.

I really don’t have a standard procedure that I use when its time to lope a green colt. I kind of pick and choose the time when I feel I can do it without causing a wreck. If I can get the colt loped a few times without a mishap, I know I’m over the worst part.

Some colts I’ll lope the very first ride. Others, maybe the tenth ride. I’ve had some real athletic (and broncy) colts that I didn’t ask to lope until I’d ridden them for a month. To try to lope them sooner, would have definitely gotten me bucked off.

However, there are times when you really need to get on with the program and get the colt loped “now“.

Here is what I usually do when I need to lope a colt that I “know” will buck with me:

Before I ever ride a colt, I’ve tied his head around and taught him to give laterally to the bit. I’ve also “doubled” him (pulled him) from the ground so he knows what that is too. As long as I can get the colt’s head when I need it, I feel I can control him.

So, let’s say I’m on a colt and the colt is humpy and threatening to bog his head and buck.

The first thing I’ll do is reach down one rein and pull the colt’s head around to get control. Then, I’ll change sides and pull his head around on the other side. I want to remind him that I can “take his head away” whenever I want.

NOTE: If the colt struggles or resists giving his head, it may be necessary to use quick PULLS AND RELEASES instead of a steady pull.

Next, I’ll start bumping his sides with the calf of my leg. The bumping will be light at first but I’ll soon increase it to a pretty strong “thump”. I thump his sides with one leg at a time and I’ll have the colt’s head pulled around while I thump.

I do this “thumping” to “entice” the colt to buck.

If he is going to buck, I want him to try it now “when I’m ready for it”. Most colts will oblige but as long as I have their head pulled around, they really can’t do it very well.

I’ll do this “pulling his head around and thumping his sides” until the colt has loosened up and there is no longer any hump in his back.

On most colts, this is all that is needed to prepare them to lope with no bucking.

With colts that are more determined to buck, I’ll go a step further and “spank” them on the butt with the ends of the reins. (Of course, I have their head pulled around when I spank them so I can maintain control).

Spanking their butt makes them scurry around in a circle, gets them moving and loosened up. Usually, a swat or two will be enough to get the hump out of their back.

I do have an alternative method that I use on exceptionally big or broncy colts.

I’ll prepare these colts on the “ground” with a specially designed hackamore (bosal). This hackamore is made of metal and is comfortable to the horse until I decide to make it very “uncomfortable“.

I’ll tell you, a couple of firm “bumps” from this hackamore will have “any” colt listening and wanting to be good.

I’ll lunge the colt and teach him to stop from the word “whoa”. Any time I say “whoa” and he doesn’t respond, I’ll bump him with the metal hackamore. This hackamore has such an affect that most colts wouldn’t even think of arguing with it.

Once the colt fully understands the ground work, I’ll “ride” him with this metal hackamore. If there is even the slightest hint of the colt misbehaving, a small bump from the hackamore will instantly change his mind.

I’ll probably jinx myself by saying this but I’ve never had a colt buck or even try to buck using this method.

An even safer alternative would be to lunge the colt in the metal hackamore with a rider on his back. Have the rider ask for the lope and if the colt acts up, bump him to make him quit.

Hope this helps. Be careful, use good judgment and don’t take unnecessary risks.

By the way, there are two videos that I recommend you watch. One is “Colt Starting Magic” and the other is my “Inner Circle video #1″.

Colt Starting Magic will give you a thorough understanding of how to start colts safely with or without the use of a breaking pen. No snubbing horse is needed either. You’ll see exactly how to start colts with nothing left out.

Inner Circle video #1 does a great job of showing you how to establish control on a green colt. I demonstrate three consecutive rides on a snorty, goosey, ready-to-buck, 2 year old gelding.

You’ll see how I teach the colt to slow down and stop, how to lope with control in a big arena and most importantly, how to keep him from bucking me off. This is probably one of the best videos I’ve done. It reveals the solutions to many problems.

Take care,

Larry Trocha
Larry Trocha Training Stable

I would like to take a moment to talk “frankly” about starting colts

A lot of folks email me to share how they got bucked off their colt. Some of these people were attending a “colt starting clinic” when it happened. They said the clinic was supposed to show them how to start the colt so he wouldn’t “want” to buck.

They went on to say… They were shown how to prepare the colt to be ridden. And were instructed to mount the colt with nothing on his head but a halter.

These people were surprised to find themselves bucked off and hurt in a matter of seconds.

Well, after starting hundreds and hundreds of colts and trying every conceivable method under the sun, this is what I’ve come to believe:

#1. Some colts will try to buck no matter how carefully you prepare them.

#2. Only a fool gets on an un-broke colt without the proper equipment.

Yes, I have witnessed some of the best colt starting clinicians in the country getting bucked off colts.

And yes, I too am a fool who has on occasion, made that first ride with nothing on the colt but a halter.

But now that I’m older and don’t heal up as fast, I’ve gotten way smarter.

I want to speak to you heart to heart for a moment… Don’t take unnecessary risks with your physical safety. An accident with a colt could cripple you for life.

I know guys who used to be professional trainers who are now permanently confined to a wheelchair. Accidents can happen to anyone. Use caution and don’t get careless.

Well, this wraps it up for this newsletter. I hope you liked it.

Until next time, have fun training your horse.

Larry Trocha
Larry Trocha


  1. Gayle Watkins says

    Hi Larry .Love your newsletter and thanks for sharing your knowledge in it. May I say that groundwork is soo important when starting a young horse.My tip for no bucking when I ask for their first canter is to ask for it on a hill when taking them out on a trail ride.So simple but have had no problems .I think because they’re mind is on getting up the hill, not what you feel like on their back .Food for thought .What do you think?

  2. Zelna le Roux says

    Dear Larry,

    Thank you for your very helpful articles. We do not have many western trainers here in South Africa, and the traditional english training here is way different from yours.
    I have a question for you on bucking. I have a 7 year old unbroken gelding that I bought off a farmer about 4 months ago. Wild as can be. I have done 3 months of groundwork on him an have ridden him (walk and trot on light rein contact) first inside the roundpen and then in the arena without incedent.

    Then suddenly on our next ride this horse went crazy the moment I asked him to walk on after mounting. I lunged him first as usual.

    He bucked like a rodeo horse, and I mean big bucks that no one but the very best would sit. And didn’t stop until I was on the ground, and continued bucking for some time before running off, head high and prancing like a show pony.

    He has no back pain, no dental problems and no pain anywhere, sound as a bell. I also changed his saddle as a precaution after this, and cut his concentrates.

    I went back to groundwork. He is now very cocky and even bucks on the lunge. The same huge rodeo bucks as if trying to dislodge the saddle. The problem now is that I’m rather scared of getting back on as I can see the bucking comming in his body language as I get teady to get on. He knows it.

    I do not have anything like your metal hackamore.
    Is there anything I else I can do to prevent him from bucking again?
    I have started many 17 youngsters over the years and they were straightforward and turned out realy nice.

    Please help.

    Kind regards,

  3. joan ellis says

    I am very impressed with I’ve read and seen.I follow your advice,I have 2 2y/o that were given to me a colt and filly.I’ve had a saddle on the colt not 1 buck, kick or anything.There worth the time and effort.More people should be seeking advice from a pro like you.

  4. says

    Hi Larry,
    I have a 5 year old gelding that is in training. He had had about 10 rides on him from someone else a few months ago, then my buddy brought him out to me. He said he had never bucked, but he bucks every time I get on him, and I proceed to wear him out until he’s done and continue training. I have him pretty supple in the bosal, and can take his head away for the most part, but he is quick to duck his head and explode. He has a really big buck and has thrown me twice. I was curious what kind of metal hackamore you use to discourage this. I have him for 3 more weeks, but I’m getting sore! lol. Also, do you think this is due to him just liking to buck? or do you think he may have been started as a youngster and gotten away with bucking people off so he thinks thats what ridings all about? He is a really nice horse once you get him lathered up a little. lol. Thanks, -Amy

  5. Lola Fox says

    Hi Larry
    I enjoy your news letters and videos. My paint mare is coming along so nicely since I have been applying what you have said. I have this apendix qaurter horse gelding. When we first got him he was nice to ride in the trails. He was also very skinny. Then we trained him for barrels and he did very well. He started rearing going into the gate and I fixed that problem. The problem now is when you ride him in the trails all he wants to do is run. I hold him back then he lunges real high trying to get away from me. Do you have any advice.
    Thank You

  6. Erica Prescott says

    This article about the bucking is really going to help me with my filly. Thanks. I also was wondering what you would recommend when starting to train a horse to spin. Would you start on the ground or what? Thanks!

  7. Linda Rothenhoefer says

    Hi, Mr. Trocha I have in the past trained a few horses for trail and pleasure riding…in my youth even showed a few years…appaloosas mostly…even worked for a small breeder in Pa. Just started getting your email letter and would like to comend you on the fine way you talk to the people…with horses if you can not get your idea accross all the knowlege in the world is useless! I am 63 years old now and really can relate to the riding defensively idea… getting bucked off is bad enough…it’s that sudden stop that hurts so much! I use your pointers to improve my riding skills… as horseman you never stop learning and improving your style. Looking forward to many new tips from you and keep up the great work…I really like your methods….Respectfully Linda

  8. pam Myers says

    Larry, thank you for practical real advice not tree hugger crap. Horses like most kids now need to shown how to be good citizens not coddled & asked whether or not they want to be. No one needs broken arms etc. Horses in the wild give each other the business and it gets through real quick what the expectations and pecking order is. Thanks for having the balls to say it like it is. I dont like broken bones and cant afford the time off work when my hobby goes wrong.

    Pam Myers

  9. Lyn Leonard says

    G’day Larry…Thanx for the sound advise on safety…and as the late Ray Hunt would say “no point in getting old if ya don’t get wise….

  10. Connie says

    I rode this Smartalena 4 yr old. (She was starved as baby, so now is the first you could start to ride). She has been real quiet. 30+ rides, loped, no problem. This last week, we lounged, bridled, asked to turn left, right, go forward and boom, took off bucking across a cut soybean field. I stuck her for about 200 yards and now badly bruised ribs and back and not walking so good. She is for someone better than me. FOR SALE!

    • LarryTrocha says

      This is the perfect opportunity to comment on this type of scenario.

      With all due respect to Connie… this kind of thing is so easy to avoid that it should have never happened.

      First, no colt should be ridden outside until it is broke enough to be thoroughly controllable.

      Second, testing this colt’s suppleness and willingness to give it’s head, should be the first thing a rider does the instant he mounts.

      Gotta be able to EASILY take the colt’s head away before starting the ride.

      Take these precautions and seldom will you have a wreck.

      Unfortunately, nobody does it… or I should say… they don’t do it right.

      Larry T.

  11. Sunday says

    Personally i’m not a fan of Clinics. I do however love sound advice, and could watch horses all day long.
    and i’am riding a horse right now that bucks. My son broke her, she would buck some, but recently it has gotten
    worse Any time i ask her to lope. At first she was lazy, so i started using spurs and she will respond,but the
    bucking is getting worse. She wants her feed and that is all. We feed in the evening and ride in the evening.
    I’ve done the things you’ve mentioned , She still reacts the same way.Now what? do you have anymore advice?
    i hope so!

  12. Raymond Helms says

    I have a 12 year old gelding that bucked with me the first time I put him into a lope. I instinctively bent his head around and it saved me. After that first buck I was then ready for him. I put him into a lope and only let him take about 3 strides and brought him back to a trot. Again with his head bent , say to the left, so in this postion his left hind leg was in postion for a lope off into a correct lead to the right and so forth. Letting him take only a couple of strides each time. It was’nt long before he did’nt buck any more. Matter of fact I accomplished this lesson in one ride in the arena. Thanks for all the advise. Hope to purchase your videos soon. I’m retired, just turned 70 and still enjoy teaching horses to be there best. Ray Helms, Dewey, Arizona

  13. Tammy Jennings says

    Thanks for this information. The 3-year old smart chic olena gelding is at the trainers and from what i have seen they can’t even walk him out without him getting a hump in his back. I can’t afford to get hurt and I don’t know if I can trust this horse after I bring him home. Is bucking or being nasty to their rider heriditary?

    • Denis Coene says

      Hi Tammy,

      The reason of bucking, is a search that everyone should do,
      First. does the horse has any spots where the saddle gives to much pressure on backbone,or evem shoulders,?
      Second. is she or he good builded on her back, so no bone would be vissible?

      i had once one, where i couldn´t get out of it, then laying the saddle an inch more backworths to resume the pressure on her schoulders, guess what, it worked out fine,

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