Why Does a Horse Buck?

An equine behavior expert and veterinarian explores the reasons why a horse might buck.

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Why Does a Horse Buck?
Bucking is a natural behavior in horses seen during play and aggression and can be a means of avoiding something frightening or that causes discomfort. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Q. What are some of the reasons a horse might buck?

A.This is a great question and one that can apply to why horses do many things that become problem behaviors.

We’ve all seen, and maybe felt underneath us, a bucking horse. Bucking comes in different styles: head down and hind legs flexed; hind legs extended with a small or big backward kick; one, two, or many bucks in a row; stationary or in the midst of a run; with or without a twisting motion

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Prior to attending veterinary school, Dr. Nancy Diehl completed a master’s degree in animal science while studying stallion sexual behavior. Later, she completed a residency in large animal internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center and worked in equine practices in Missouri and Pennsylvania. Diehl also spent six years on faculty at Penn State, where she taught equine science and behavior courses and advised graduate students completing equine behavior research. Additionally, Diehl has co-authored scientific papers on stallion behavior, early intensive handling of foals, and feral horse contraception. Currently she is a practicing veterinarian in central Pennsylvania.

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