Rearing Horse: All You Need to Know

Whether you are a novice or an experienced rider, a rearing horse can lead to dangerous situations. Horses that rear can go up too high, resulting in the horse losing his balance and falling over backward. Should the rider not get out of the way quickly enough, the resulting injury might prove to be quite serious.

It is not uncommon for a horse to rear. Just about every rider has had the somewhat frightening experience at some point in their careers. The most important thing to remember is to keep calm and to be aware of what the horse is doing at all times.

What Is a Rearing Horse?

A rearing horse is when a horse lifts itself on its rear feet, allowing its front feet to become airborne. It is usually occasionally by lashing out with its front legs. This can be caused either because of a physical ailment or by an inexperienced rider. In order to determine whether or not there is a physical reason behind the rearing issue, a veterinarian should be consulted to determine the underlying cause. Here is an extreme example:

Why Does a Horse Rear?

This depends upon the circumstances. In there is no rider involved, a horse rears when it’s usually involved in a fight. Stallions will attack each other by rearing on their hind legs and lashing out with their front legs.

A rearing horse involving a rider is usually caused by one of two situations. First, is what’s known as a “heavy-handed rider.” This is a rider looking to maintain balance on the horse by putting too much weight on the reins. At other times, a heavy-handed rider might give a powerful jerk on the reins when wanting the horse to slow down or stop.

The second reason a horse rears up is actually related to the horse’s own volition. This is usually seen when a horse has actually learned to detect having a novice rider working the reins. The horse, not wanting to do what is asked, rears up. In some cases, the rider dismounts from the horse. When this happens, the horse learns rearing up will get it out of doing what’s asked of it.

Additionally, having problems with the mouth and teeth can cause a horse to rear out of pain. The bit in the mouth, if striking a sensitive area, causes the horse to react by rearing.


Treatment Options Available for Rearing Horses

If a horse is rearing due to physical problems, consulting with a veterinarian is the first course of action. Treatment might range from finding a bit that is more appropriate to the horse or working on the horse’s teeth (which might be sensitive).

If a horse is rearing because of the rider’s inexperience, working with the rider to show the proper way to maintain balance and to hold the reins might result in stopping the unwanted behavior. In some cases, it might be better to find a less problematic horse for that particular rider, until the rider is better equipped to handle the reins. However, if the horse is rearing because it does not want to do what’s asked of it, the best course of action might be to allow a trained professional to handle the situation.

There is no set period of time involved when it comes to breaking a horse of its rearing behavior. If the problem is caused by teeth, it will probably require less time than if the problem is caused by either the horse’s own volition or because of an inexperienced rider. A stubborn horse requires more time to break it of its rearing behavior.

Preventing a Rearing Horse

Obviously, there is no guaranteed method of making sure a horse is not going to rear. Horses are individuals with their own minds and it is impossible to predict when or where or what will cause a horse to rear. However, certain areas can be focused on to greatly reduce the likelihood of the horse rearing.

  1. First, have a veterinarian check to ensure the horse’s mouth and teeth do not have any problem areas. A bit rubbing against a sore tooth might easily cause enough pain to have the horse react by rearing.
  2. Next, try to fit the rider with the horse. If a horse is known for being strong-willed, it might be best to keep the novice riders off. Also, by focusing the rider’s attention on always using the proper level of rein control will go a long way from keeping a horse from becoming aware of the skill level of the rider.
  3. Check to ensure the right bit is being used. If the bit is too large for the horse’s mouth, this causes unwanted pressure on the teeth, resulting in the horse reacting out of pain.
  4. Finally, should a horse require professional handling in order to break it of its behavior, you should not hesitate to do so. The longer the rearing horse is allowed to simply continue its bad behavior, the harder it will be to bring it back from the edge and into a more compliant riding companion.


While it can be quite intimidating to be on a horse that’s rearing, it’s worthwhile to remember there are usually valid reasons for this behavior and when those issues are addressed, the horse’s rearing problems usually get resolved. With a little bit of effort in order to find out the exact cause of the rearing, the horse and rider can often find themselves back on the same page, ready to enjoy their partnership.

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