Wednesday, July 7, 2010

So that's what a buck feels like!

I have been very unsure of what a buck feels like, and whether or not I've ever sat through one, for a long time. I thought he might have bucked once or twice, but started doubting it.

Now I know for sure what it feels like, and I'm pretty sure Monday wasn't the first time, either.

A week or two ago, I'd asked someone on a trail ride if he had bucked. He hadn't; what I had felt was him propelling himself up a hill with a hard push from the rear end. Okay.

Monday morning we went on a trail ride. This was after the crazy storm and fireworks (and Panama's lick fest) Fourth of July evening, and all the horses were jittery. There was a lot of talk of possibly turning around and going back, but we didn't.

About halfway through the ride, Panama was acting antsy about being the third horse in line instead of the second, and started trying to push ahead to pass the horse in front of him. I circled him briefly to remind him to listen to me, but as I guided him back onto the trail, he lost his composure entirely. I felt him launch us into the air, and then he bolted forward, passing the horse in front of us after all. I pulled him down to a walk within a couple of strides, and asked the rider who was bringing up the rear what he'd done.

"He bucked, and took off."

The buck hadn't felt anything like what I'd expected. It felt like all of him shot upward, but I guess that's probably because he is a small horse with a short back. As one of our riding partners is fond of saying, small horses are like sports cars, with short wheelbases: They can spin or buck and start running away before you even realize what's happened.

Although I did come forward a bit in the saddle, I stayed on without too much difficulty, and the rider who was behind us said I kept my heels down. She also said it was a medium-sized buck — I don't know if I'd be able to stay on if he was trying to get rid of me, but I'm pleased to know I can sit through a decent-sized buck. I'm pretty sure he's done it before, too, and I just didn't realize what it was. For instance, I think he bucked when we encountered a swarm of mosquitoes on a new trail we explored last month. (We were dead last, so I didn't have anyone to ask.)

I assumed Panama was bucking because he was upset about me making him be even further back, but the rider bringing up the rear told me later that there was a noisy bike passing on the road behind us at that very moment. I think he probably was upset about falling behind, and the sound of the bike probably sent him over the edge. I didn't get him in trouble this time, because by the time I learned it was a buck it was much too late, but at least now I know. Next time he bucks with me on him, he will learn that it's not nice, and that he doesn't get his way for behaving like that!



At July 7, 2010 at 11:35 AM, Blogger Sydney_bitless said...

Sometimes they will pop their butts up when theres a lot of bugs bothering them. It's hardly a buck at all.

At July 7, 2010 at 12:14 PM, Blogger jane augenstein said...

Sounds like you are describing a crow hop, they will come up somewhat off the ground; but a buck, you would have been flying through the air. A buck is when the head goes down between the front legs and the hind feet are reaching for the moon. I have never ridden one and hope I NEVER do either. I have seen Gilly throw some awesome twisting bucks out in the field and he can keep them all to himself!!!

At July 7, 2010 at 12:46 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Nope, it was definitely a buck! The rider who was behind us confirmed it, and it wasn't a small one, either! I was definitely thrown forward in the saddle; I just didn't expect how much of the motion would be up, too.

I was surprised I stayed on too, Jane, but I guess it shows how much my seat has improved!

At July 7, 2010 at 4:27 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

You know, the time I broke my arm, Bombay was in a full-on bucking frenzy and I WANTED off, but couldn't get off. My body naturally moved with the flow to maintain my balance. I kept trying to jump off, but each time his body came up, it would bring me back down with it on his back. I finally leaned to the side and had a bad landing. Anyway, I don't have any problem believing that you can ride out a buck.

At July 8, 2010 at 5:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you keep your head up and keep riding with relaxed legs and seat (easier said than done), you can stay with the motion unless it gets too violent or there's twisting or turning involved. It's the collapsing the core or stopping riding/tightening up that does you in. Keeping the horse moving forward is (usually) a good idea as well, as they have to plant the front legs to get in a good buck - unless they're Lily or Dawn!

At July 8, 2010 at 10:21 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

NM, I can't imagine staying on through a bucking frenzy. Yikes! I don't think my problem would be not being able to get OFF, in that case. I'm impressed -- you must be a really good rider, to stay on through all that. (Just not as good at falling.)

Kate, it's keeping my head up that is my problem -- I tend to look down at his ears whenever he spooks or bolts. I know I looked down this time too, just not for very long because he started running afterward and I was looking where we were going since we were on the trail!


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