Why Do Horses Rear? All You Need To Know


The sight of a horse rearing is a very powerful and majestic thing, at least it is to most people. Rearing in horses can be a very dangerous thing, especially if your horse is rearing with a rider. Can you train a horse to rear on command? Can all horses rear? And do horses rear in the wild? All of these questions are frequently asked about rearing. If you are hoping to learn more about rearing in horses, look no further.

Why Do Horses Rear?

Horses rear for a number of reasons. In the wild, horses will only really rear when challenging another horse. If a domesticated horse rears, either they were trained to do so, they are trying to challenge their rider, handler, or driver. or they are just feeling good and are rearing up as they would buck. Usually domesticated horses don’t rear up but it can be really dangerous when they do. Many people will immediately sell a horse who rears just because of the great danger it poses and the possibility of the horse flipping over on top of them.

Can You Train A Horse How To Rear On Command?

Yes! Many horses actually will be taught to rear on command because of how impressive it looks. Some horses will even be taught to rear up and walk on their hind legs.

Horses are usually taught to rear both with a rider on their back and without one on their back. I have seen horses who are taught to rear through the rider’s commandor with the command of a handler on the ground. It all depends on the training of the horse.

How Do I Get My Horse To Stop Rearing: On The Ground

If your horse is rearing up, for example on the lunge line, making rearing uncomfortable for them is one of the best things to do to make that horse not want to rear anymore.

If you are lunging your horse and he is beginning to rear up on you, waving a lunge whip or lunge flag up in his face and pulling hard on the lungle line will make rearing that much more uncomfortable for the horse. As soon as the horse comes down from the rear, totally relax.

This method makes doing the right thing relaxing and easy and the wrong thing scary and uncomfortable. Once the horse knows this, he will be less likely to rear up or do something wrong like this as it is more scary and hard to do the wrong thing than it is to do the right thing.

How Do I Get My Horse To Stop Rearing: In The Saddle

If your horse is rearing when you are riding him, this is a habit that needs to be broken immediately. There are a few steps that you can take to get your horse to come back to earth for good.

  • Step 1: Find Out Why He Is Rearing
    • Determine what it is that it causing your horse to rear. If it is fear, barn sourness, disrespect, or another thing, determining what it is will help to stop this behavior as you can then work on eliminating that cause
  • Step 2: Get His Back End Moving
    • Horses can’t rear if their hindquarters are engaged or moving. Getting off your horse and lunging him can help or even getting your horse to move in a tight circle with his hindquarters moving outward will lower the risk of rearing. Forward motion with hindquarter engagement will keep him from rearing
  • Step 3: Work On Groundwork
    • Many horses will buck, bolt, and rear in situations where they are uncomfortable or they feel that they can take advantage of their handler. Establishing that trust and dominance on the ground where you are dssafe over hte vourse of a week or two will really help the issue.

Can All Horses Rear?

Yes I would say that any and all horses can rear if they have the mind to do so. I honestly don’t think most horses know that they are able and capable of rearing or that they just don’t rear because they don’t feel the need to do so.

Horses of all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, colors, types, and breeds are able and capable of rearing and can at any given moment.

Do Horses Rear In The Wild?

Absolutely! Horses will rear in the wild, especially when challenging another horse or defending their young.

The most common time that a horse would rear up in the wild would be if a stallion is challenging another stallion. Stallions will rear up when fighting to show each other who’s boss. When rearing, stallions will bite and strike out at their opponent in an attempt to fend them off of whatever it is that the other stallion is defending.

Sometimes, when rearing up at each other, stallions can even kill each other if a bite or blow is delivered to a certain area.

How Old Does A Horse Need To Be Before It Can Rear?

Horses can really be any age to rear. Though it is more commonly seen in younger or middle aged horses, even senior horses are known to rear.

As soon as a foal can walk and run it is capable of rearing. One day, when I was working at a barn, a little Arabian stud colt reared up in front of me when I was changing his mommy’s standing wraps. I wasn’t too shocked that he did this because that little colt is full of spunk and attitude, but because he was only about 8 weeks old I was surprised he was already able to do this.

Can A Rearing Horse Fall Over?

Yes! This is the main reason why rearing in horses is so dangerous. Horses are known to flip over, especially when they are young, because of two reasons:

  • They have no means of self preservation yet
  • They haven’t found proper balance

I have seen countless videos and heard a number of stories where someone is riding a younger or more wild horse. The horse then rears up and falls over backward, thus crushing the rider underneath them. This is why many horses are deemed too dangerous to ride and are even destroyed as a horse that rears is bad enough, but a horse that will flip over when rearing up is a severe safety hazard.

Hailey Johnson

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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