why is my horse rearing up

Why is My Horse Rearing and How to Stop

Why is my horse rearing, and how to stop it? Before correcting the rearing, it would be better if you knew what is pushing your horse to behave in that way.

Sometimes you may need professional intervention. Here, you will learn more about horse rearing, why they do it, how to tell it, how to protect yourself and how to end this.

A rearing horse is frightening, especially when riding on it. If the horse falls during rearing, it will harm the horse rider, the passenger if there was one and itself.

The horse may also damage the surrounding equipment, harming the horse if it falls on a fragile one. Rearing isn’t typical behavior. If your horse is rearing and wondering what to do, don’t worry! There are many cases of rearing horses reported with solutions to them.

There are many misconceptions about rearing in horses. Most people define rearing as a horse standing on its hind legs. Well, there is no lie about it. However, a horse can rear without lifting any of its legs. 

So how can you know your horse is rearing? Sometimes rearing can go unnoticed. For instance, if your horse doesn’t want to move, it will put all effort into its haunches without moving a leg.

It might not be a genuine rear, but that’s how it cultivates it. Suppose you notice that hesitance, that’s the best time to solve it. However, any rearing stage is stopped in similar ways.

Why Do Horses Rear?

Unfortunately, rearing may be the best way for horses to express what they are emotionally going through. Rearing may also be a way your horse is showing dominance over its fellows or disrespect to you! However, rearing is not all about misbehavior and naughtiness. Your horse might be rearing due to confusion, behavioral issues, pain, or fear.

1. Fear

If your horse is frightened or senses a terrible situation is about to happen, the quickest way to respond is to run. If running isn’t possible, it will rear.

Fear and anxiety

An anxious horse usually showcases abnormal behaviors. Rearing is one way of showing anxiety as they try to get out of the situation. You can relieve your horse by being gentle and making it feel safe and relaxed. Alternatively, apply some lavender oil – it’s believed to reduce stress.

Fear and loss of eyesight

Since horses are prey animals, they depend on eyesight to survive. A horse with no eyesight can’t keep still due to fear. Some may rear while others may stay in one place for a long time for fear of moving in a strange place. 

If the eyesight problem is temporary, try regaining its sight to avoid rearing and other unusual behaviors. But if it’s permanent, keep your horse in familiar places – horses are susceptible!

2. Pain

Most horse rearing is due to pain from the different equipment they use. 


Ensure that the bit you use on your horse is appropriately fitting. Whether harsh or soft, any bit that is not of the right size causes so much pain hence the rearing. When purchasing a bit, consider softness and size.

If the bit is too tight, it might harm your horse and make it uncomfortable. To know the correct measure, you can insert a finger and make it comfortably fit in. Ensure it’s neither too tight nor too loose.


Ensure the saddle properly fits your horse for both you and your horse’s safety. If it is too tight, it will keep pinching your horse with every movement, and if it is too loose, it might damage the spine. Never fit saddles if you are not familiar with the procedure. You can hire a saddle fitter to help you.

Health problems

A horse might rear due to sickness. If your horse is experiencing any form of internal pain, the horse will rear to try escaping the discomfort. In this case, visit a vet to determine the issue and the possible measures to take.

Mishandling the reins

First-time riders tend to be nervous when riding a horse. Sometimes they may put too much pressure on the reins causing upward movements from the horse. This movement, if nothing is done about it, may cause a rear. 

A first-time rider should have good training on handling the reins. It will keep both the rider and the horse safe.

Dental problems

If you see your horse rearing, the source issue might be from the mouth. Teeth aches are usually so painful that they cause the horse to buck and rear, trying to avoid the discomfort. Check your horse to a dentist to determine the primary cause.

3. Behavioral Issues

Horses may rear to send a message or express what they are feeling.


Rearing is common in naughty horses to show they don’t like what they are being instructed. Continuous rearing due to disobedience may be hard to stop. Therefore, stop it in the earlier stages or seek the instructors’ advice.


Horses, especially stallions, may rear to show dominance. Rearing is a threatening move, so they can use it to escape doing something. Fortunately, it’s a rare behavior and only seen in stallions.


Feeds like grains provide horses with energy. If you minimize your horse’s movement and stabilize it, it will rear the moment it gets to work to release some energy. In this case, allow your horse to move regularly and avoid overfeeding, mainly with feeds that provide energy.


A horse can rear to break the boredom. The best way to prevent this is to keep your horse distracted and occupied. You can try installing a mirror in the stable, slow feeding devices, or horse toys.

4. Confusion

Horses are usually willing to follow instructions, but they might escape confusion by rearing if the command is not clear.

Mixed instructions

Mixed instructions confuse horses. For instance, if you make signs that signal your horse to move backward but push it forward, it will be unclear which direction to take. The solution is giving simple and clear instructions. 

Poor training

Horses like pleasing humans, but with poor training, they can’t do that. If your horse doesn’t understand what you require, it will get frustrated and start rearing. 

You can solve this by training to understand what and when to do what you want.

Can you tell if a Horse Will Rear?

A horse that is about to rear will show signs such as;

  • Short strides
  • Twitching ears
  • Sudden halts
  • Lowering hunches
  • Lashing the front legs
  • Or even direct resistance

Pay attention to the signs your horse displays to know how to engage. If your horse doesn’t alert you in any way, then try drawing its attention back to you. Keep it moving – horses can’t rear if in constant movement. 

What to Do When a Horse Rears

Here are things to consider if a horse rears, especially when riding.

  • Get off

Rears are dangerous, so if it happens, it’s better when you are off. However, you can stay mounted if you feel like you are still in control. If the rear gets out of control and it becomes hard to get off the horse, you can jump off sideways or forward.

Any way you choose to land off, remember to be easy on the reins. Otherwise, you will stir more rears. If the horse continues to rear even after getting off, keep some distance.

  • Ensure the Reins are Loose

Discomfort in the reins results in rears. If this happens, lean forward to loosen it.

  • Avoid Pulling the Reins

When a horse rears while riding, don’t be tempted to pull the reins when hanging on for balance. You may both end up falling and cause severe injuries.

  • Make your Horse Move Forward

After rearing, encourage your horse to move forward to prevent it from happening again. Ensure it is slightly and in a calm way.

  • Make its feet move

If you see that your horse wants to continue rearing, make it move in circles, making the horse focus on moving the feet instead of rearing. In case of imbalance, redirect using the mane or the saddle horn.

  • Yield its hindquarters

If your horse is rearing due to fear, occupy it with many movements to focus on moving rather than what it is afraid of. Many movements will make it avoid standing still hence reducing rearing chances.

  • Avoid Hitting your Horse’s Poll

Most people believe hitting the poll of a horse is instilling discipline. However, it can stop the rear but not prevent it. 

How to Prevent Rearing in Your Horse

If your horse has no physical or equipment issues mentioned previously, consider these things to stop the rearing from happening in the future:

  • Find out what is causing your horse to rear. Recognize what it’s trapping it or holding it back. 
  • If you own an anxious horse, often take it to what stimulates its anxiety. Do this in a safe and familiar environment. Keep doing it until it stops reacting to it. Reintroduce the stimulus openly until it stops reacting.
  • Earn your horse’s respect. You can achieve this by building a solid relationship. Except for pain, your horse will rarely rear in your presence. Also, don’t condone any form of misbehavior. 
  • Avoid giving more than one instruction at once. That will confuse your horse and trigger rearing.
  • Horses feed emotions fast. Avoid any negative responses when riding and be as calm as you can.
  • Invest in your horse’s groundwork training. Your horse should learn to flex on the ground and handle bit pressure. Keep making it move in all directions to draw all the attention to the moves. You can also introduce exercises that entail various movements like rollbacks and figures of eight.
  • Ensure you are experienced in handling a horse before engaging with one. There are experience levels that aren’t suitable to ride a horse. 
  • If your horse rears continuously and you have a problem stopping it, consult an experienced trainer. Rearing is such a dangerous experience, and if it continues, never assume it. You can only fix the behavior with professional help.

Final Verdict

Stopping horse rearing is such a difficult task. Prevent it by having enough good time with your horse to make it feel relaxed and calm around you. Fear, frustrations, and anxiety drive most horse rears. Keep your horse in dental and health check to prevent pain from instilling rears. However, if your horse has just begun and keeps rearing, this guide will be your friend all through.