Is there any hope of training a horse not to rear, or once they've discovered that evasion will they always do it?

I think it is one of the hardest things to deal with and would not keep a horse that does that.

Has anyone had permanent success getting a horse to stop that as their evasion? How did you do it?

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I know quite a number of those horses and I agree with the statement that most professionals will not touch those horses as its simply too dangerous. I had 3 of them myself and I have seen some others.
However there are ways to access the problem.
First of all, I found that ALL the horses showing this problem more than just occasionally have had a health problem or just a very stupid rider (this a very polite way of saying that).
In the 2nd case there is no hope unless you change the rider.
In the 1st case you have to find the medical problem before you try any re-training.
Here are my personal experiences:
horse #1, the legs, it was a 12year old puissance jumper having won competitions over 2,20m high walls. Now he was rearing whenever he entered the area. Well, easy enough. Give him a year to recover, no more punishments and give him to a junior rider doing 1,20m competitions. He did that beautifully until he was retired at age of 17.
#2, the neck, the horse felt pain going with a bent neck. The owner forced him to do soll with pulling reins and punished him with the whip, hitting his head etc.. The very last thing you need with a rearing horse. Well, it took half a year of physiotherapy and a good and patient training. He did 6 year of show jumping and is today retired walking around with a 60 year old rider in the forrest
#3, very difficult. Some days the horse was absolutely fine, some days really dangerous. We never found the actual problem so far, but it is pain. If we gave him a pain killer drug, no issue. He is still in physiotherapy. We'll see in summer.

I know one trainer here who makes it a lesson. He tries to get the horse to do it at the hand and teach it to rear on command. As it is a difficult lession requiring strength, horses can get tired of it. He claims, that once the horse has learned it as a lesson he will no longer abuse it as a means to fight. Hm, he sure enough get the horse to do the lessons and I have seen him ride those horses well. I haven't tried it myself though.

Well, not all work out fine. A friend of mine had a 9 year old gelding, rearing at any request of the rider to turn right. We didn't find any medical problems. They gave him to a professional who tried it with very forceful means,- and reached nothing, except he managed to cope with some very dangerous situations. The decision was made to put him down as they wouldn't take the responsibility to try and sell it to someone.

Anyway, I would agree, its difficult. If you ask a professional to try it, you should tell him openly what to expect. If even good profs reject it and you can't find the reason, I'd prefer to have the horse painlessly killed rather than sell it to an unexperienced person,- or selling it to a horse dealer (who will have it killed anyway)

The best is to catch it early, get rid of the problem (rider or pain) and try again with enough time.

I've had horses in for training that were confirmed as rearers, and fully agree with Bernd in regard to the reasons horses rear.

One of the most impressive, and dangerous, mares I delt with had a habit of going over backwards, and had even landed on top of her owner in a canal while out hacking, almost drowning the pair of them. The first job was to get the saddle fixed (the tree was so smashed up from all her antics that it had become the primary source of her fear and confusion under saddle, causing her rears to become ever more terrifying). Then she had months of physio and when she was back to full health, I changed her bit from a pelham to a soft rubber snaffle. She'd been rearing for over 10 years when I started with her, and nobody else would touch her because of her reputation, but by the end of a year of sympathetic training, she was an entirely transformed horse. I even took her out hunting, endurance riding, and did a spot of low level show jumping with her. She's still going strong, though pretty much retired these days, at 32 years old.
Another mare I took on for re-training had come off the race track as a four year old, and had been bought by a novice owner. That poor mare also had appalling tack, that fitted in all the wrong places. She was trained in her previous career to move forwards at speed, yet her nervous novice owner spent the whole time trying to 'hold' her back. Only by going through the same process, changing to suitable tack, having physios work on her knotted muscles, and by progressive training, I managed to turn her around. Sadly she was injured in a stable accident, halting her ridden career, but went on to become a good brood mare.

There is always a reason for horses rearing, and it's very rare that they've just 'discovered' it as a way to intimidate a rider. It's usually either because they have pain or fear issues, or some numpty has trained them to do it by rough riding. With time and care, many can be turned around, but sometimes the fear becomes so ingrained that the kindest thing to do is forget about riding the poor creature...'s not just the "amateur"'s a poor rider/trainer...regardless of their "description" that by riding a horse that is in pain, teaches it to find a way to resist the alleviate the pain. The rearer, avoiding pain, can be re-habilitated, with correction of pain issue, and then re-instilling trust and comfort into their riding program.This is good to hear. I have such a horse that never showed this vice, until after injured, and then trainer continued to ride. have to fix all this at a great cost and time...hopefully we did stop the riding soon enough to help gain his trust back. He has had chiro work now, and will be re-assessed after returning home, as soon as the weather permits.And definetely laid off, in his home environment, until Spring. Re-evaluate with Chiro...and start back trail riding first, then back into a slow work up training program. Love this when it happens to horse you have for sale. Unfortunately, as an owner, I have been sadly disappointed with the general standard of trainers. I do realize, after schooling/starting horses myself successfully prior to having life changing surgery, that each horse is a new book, some offer the same story-line, others do is how we grow in knowlege. But if you don't want to read a new book, send it back to the owner. Some horses are just plain ruined by the ignorance of pros and amateurs. Good to hear that my trainer here at home and I are in concurrence with some others on this thread in regards to what causes rearing. Pain...or heavy unyielding hands forcing a horse into a frame that the body is not prepared yet to bend to..or just plain bad hands, hard leg. This is not a damnation of trainer's who are learning or other, just a reminder...that horses, or dogs or any animal, is not a car, and turning the key, does not mean the same handling ability with each.
Believe it or not...we have had chiro work now done on the horse. He reared immediately after....but settled. Then one month after layoff, rode again...didn't even offer to do any nasty things. So..we'll continue with chiro work, and happy rides hopefully from here on it. But...certainly does indicate that the pain was the cause. Good ideas from many....and I'd heard about a balloon with water broke over the poll. The egg is the same idea I would guess. Hmmm....
Some very good points have already been made. Moving the horse forward I agree is the number one deterrent. I was helping to train one of my boarder's horses who started to rear on her (after my training was in progress, i wouldn't have taken him on as a rearer, i'm not a pro). I believe the horse was doing this to take advantage of her, and he may have been rearing to test the situation since he was young and green (to much so for his owner). Unfortunately she had heard that she should slide or jump off if he tries to rear which made things worse for her. I only had him seem to think about attempting a rear on me, but pushing him forward and circles, he never did. I used to own a TB who, when he was young, would rear when he got too far from home when I was riding. Although an unorthodox method, I did the same a Susan did, I would hit him over the top of the neck or use the handle end of my crop and tap him (along with using my voice). Not hard. Enough to get him to realize that what he is doing is not what I want him to be doing. And like Susan's horse, he did stop. I'd give him the tap at the feel of his front legs getting light on the ground and his head lifting. He stopped rearing, and within a year he didn't seem to even think about it. And turned out to be a sweetheart.
As for the chain under the chin, I do not agree with that method whatsoever. I have a boarder who did that with her young horse, and I believe this made her into a rearer. When the horse thought she was going to get into trouble her head would go high, and lift her front feet off the ground. It took a while to work this out of her (and the occasional chain over the nose), but she doesn't react like this anymore. The owner no longer puts a chain under the chin.
In my opinion, unless a horse is very use to a chin chain, and it is used in fact, think of the actual placement, pressure...a chin chain creates lift off! The exact opposite of what we are looking to do. We've had numerous tb's over the years, and many are well use to the chin chain, but I still would not use it to correct a horse who is light on the frontend, going up. We do not even use it with our stallions, as feel it is counter productive to most applications requiring more control.

I am sure there is hope for your horse. We have had few horses in training that reared, with the right attitude you can "give the horse no reason to rear"...if that makes sense. We even sold few of them after few month of training with no complaints after. If you would like more info or would like to send your horse for training ( we train dressage) please email
Hi. First let me say I am no expert. My ottb started rearing vertically and spinning 180 degrees at the same time. I had only had him a month when this started. I screamed at him in a very low voice and made him circle very tightly until he settled. After that everytime he even reared the smallest bit, I would growl at him, make him collect and keep circling him until he settled. If he started again I would repeat until he stopped. Once he would walk forward calmly, I would give him a good pat and tell him how wonderful he was. 3 months down the track, he does not even bother anymore. I am certainly not saying this would work for every horse. Rearing is extremely dangerous and I was certainly very frightened. I believed he was going to go over that day. This is what has worked for me and hopefully he wont try it again.
Fixing a rearing problem is best left up to professionals.
Hi, I know this is not a correct way to do things but I know someone who sucessfully used this method. I myself would probably never do it, but this person carried a water balloon with warm water in a and when the horse reared she let the water out in between it's ears, so that the horse thought it busted it's head on the sky. What do you guys think of this? I personally think it is not the correct path to take, but I am thirteen and just wanted to know what some pros thought. :)
Hi Meredith, Your right when you say it's not the correct path! It's just a dumb thing to do, so your very sensable to not try it.
Send the horse to a professional?? I'm sure it a lot of cases this is the answer and certainly safer then having a novice try to fix the problem but Geoffrey, I concur, IF the rider is causing the problem and the "professional" fixes it then sending it back to the owner/rider isn't any help at all.

To be devil's advocate, what do people think of pros training their horses without including training the rider? Personally I feel strongly that it is essential to train the rider along with the horse so as not to have the problem reoccur once it's returned to the owner, however that is seldom the case. Pro's tend to think only in terms of reschooling the horse and give too little consideration to the fact they are in essence sending it back to where/who/how the problem started.

It's beyond time that pro trainers consider they have to reschool the owner as well. Many, too many can't because they are good with horses but suck at dealing with owners. Time to come out from behind the curtain.


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