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If your horse bucks you off should you blame your saddle?

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Perhaps yes, if the tree broke and sent sharp piercing pain into your horse’s back. But so many riders blame saddles that are in good repair, even when they have taken reasonable measures to make sure the saddles fit well to begin with. They say they want to give their horses “the benefit of the doubt.” That sounds noble to us humans, but the message the rider sends to the horse is “I doubt the issue has anything to do with me.” Horses beg to differ… to such a degree that I have yet to see a saddle cause or solve a bucking issue.

saddle bucks


As herd animals, horses are social creatures with the ability to conform to social norms. In other words they behave as calmly as the herd allows. Horses have been proving for centuries that they can behave calmly despite all kinds of discomfort. Reasoning away bucking because the saddle isn’t a perfect fit makes about as much sense as reasoning away a fellow rider punching you because her bra strap is digging into her back.

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If your horse bucks you off an okay saddle, you would be wise to consider that the issue is not between your horse and the saddle, but between your horse and you. Go ahead and call the saddle fitter to ease your mind, but for your own safety, take some precautionary measures to ease your horse’s mind as well. As prey animals, horses’ primary concern is safety. Work with your horse on the ground, proving to him that he can trust you to keep him safe at all times…especially when you are asking him to work harder for you. While you are at it, make it clear to your horse that bucking is not an acceptable behavior when he is with you. These things take time… but so does recovering from an injury. The choice is always yours. And if you’re thinking you already did all those things, you have to trust the fact that horse’s don’t lie. The bucking is proof that you didn’t… at least not to your horse’s satisfaction.

Our horses are always honest with us. Being honest with ourselves is the hard part. But it is also the first step toward safe, buck-free riding… and a lot less expensive than a new saddle.

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