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Franklin Levinson's

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Bucking troubles!

Hi Franklin,

I'm the owner of a beautiful black and white pinto 3 yr old gelding. He has such a great personality, but he's a bit aggressive. I had him to a trainer recently that sent him home saying that he hasn't had a horse that bad in 5 years. He was excited when he was working with 'Fresco' on the ground work and found him to learn fast, but when it came to actually riding him, he hired a young bull rider to take the first, second and third rides. The first day he bucked him off 5 times, the second day only once and the third day I was there and he didn't buck him off at all, but Fresco just wouldn't give in to the rider’s requests. He didn't like being told what to do and would get bucky and unpredictable. The trainer says he's dangerous because he's so unpredictable, and would take a lot of time, patience and money and then 'maybe' he'd be able to ride, but has given up on him, because of the time issue and with no guarantee that he ever would be able to ride. He suggested taking him to an auction and leaving him behind, but I just can't do it yet. This trainer also kicks the horses in the belly if they are not paying attention to him. I don't agree with this but lack knowledge on how to handle horses that won't give you the time of day. I don't know that he did this with Fresco but he has done it with my 11 year old thoroughbred quarter horse cross that really wouldn't give me the time of day and he seemed to pay attention after that???

I feel that only taking him to one person to train and giving up so quickly isn't the answer, I feel he has a lot of affection for me, but just needs to be taught a little respect for people. I'm nervous when I'm with him because he almost walks over me. As I'm walking he'll walk right in front of me and rub me to where I have to push him away, what do his actions mean? Is there hope for Fresco and me? I really do love him and would love to be on his back someday, I think we could have a lot of fun together. Is there such a thing as a horse that will refuse one person (a stranger) on his back but will gladly listen to someone else that they know? I'm not an experienced horse person, so lack the knowledge of training how to. Please let me know what I should do with Fresco, I don't want to give him up yet.


Hi Penny,

'Rough Stock' (bulls and broncs) riders ride an extremely aggressive style of riding. It is not suitable for green, young, or freshly started horses. It is actually inappropriate riding for all types of normal riding animal use. It has evolved for something completely different. I am amazed the trainer you sent your horse to had a bull rider try to break the horse to saddle. What a shame. No matter how well intentioned the trainer was. Also, any physical or emotional abuse was inappropriate for the horse or any horse.

It is also a shame you bought such a young horse. Horses under the age of 6 are generally green and inexperienced and should be considered as such. As you are somewhat of a novice, you are stuck having to hire trainers to do the 'development work' for you. Even if the horse was well started under saddle, a very experienced rider should be the one schooling the horse. Also, you shouldn't be using the horse very much for another year and a half or two. This horse is a baby yet and will be for a while. So many folks get young flashy horses that are beyond their skill level as to make it dangerous and for horse and human and find themselves in situations just like yours. You end up having a bad experience, your confidence level goes into a downward spiral and the horse begins to get moved around from owner to owner which is traumatic in itself. Just be you saying "I have given up on you", even in your mind, your horse understands. Imagine how you would feel if someone said that to you.

Ask yourself a few questions; How committed are you to the horse? Do you have the resources to have the right trainer work with the horse? Are you willing to learn these techniques from the trainer yourself? Are you will to take riding lessons to get your equestrian skills higher? If you wanted a pretty pleasure horse or even one to show a bit, a six year old (minimum age) would have been so much better and easier for all involved. There are no "bad" horses. There are fearful horses. There are "bad" trainers as you have seen. Certainly a horse can like one person over another, especially when one person is abusing the horse and the other is not. However, the gentle person will be hindered by the abusive person's handling of the horse. Of course the horse will become completely confused and conflicted as to humans and how they are.

I cannot teach you skills I have taken all my life to lean in an email. It has to do with processes that are both internal and external. It is not about making him respect you. It is about earning trust and respect through offering it. It is about leadership and not control. It is about kindness and not discipline. It is about skill and not confusion. It is about who we are as well as what we do. Perhaps I could come there? Where are you? I am in Colorado near Aspen. Please give me your thoughts on all this. Thank you so much for emailing me.

Sincerely, Franklin

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