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I won't go into the causes explicitly here, because another article discusses the causes of horse rearing in detail. If you haven't read that article yet, I recommend doing so now and then returning here when you have finished.
For the purposes of this article we are going to assume that the cause for your horse's rearing is not due to pain or ill-fitting horse tack. Those are easily addressed through a qualified veterinarian or a change of gear.
Stopping Horses From Rearing While Riding
Many horse owners want to know how to stop a horse from rearing while riding, and honestly I think this is a poor approach. First, you place yourself at far greater harm while on the saddle, yet at the same time you maintain far less control. That's a bad duo. Second, I strongly believe that solid groundwork is far more effective at tackling the root causes of horse rearing. Rearing is the result of a root cause, so tackling the reaction rather than the cause is less effective.
That having been said, here are two old-fashioned techniques that you should not depend on:
First and foremost it's imperative that you maintain proper balance and riding technique while sitting on a rearing horse, otherwise the horse can cause you serious harm and vice versa. When a horse rears, a lot of riders become surprised and their first reaction is to lean back in the saddle and yank on the reins for dear life. The problem is yanking the reins provides false hope. When you yank on the reins of a rearing horse, you won't be able to pull yourself forward as your instincts tell you. Instead what you'll do is pull an unbalanced horse backwards, thereby drastically increasing the chance of flipping him over on top of you.
When a horse rears you need to immediately lean forward against his neck and loosen the reins entirely. Give the horse his head in the midst of a rear – he'll need all his balance to prevent him from falling over. Reapply direct rein pressure only after all four hooves are back on the ground.
Unless you are a very experienced rider (and even if you are one), you want to realistically assess your risks. Don't try and "ride out" serious rearing unless you are in a supervised and controlled situation. If your horse rears somewhere outside of a riding ring, I would modify the above tidbit a bit. Instead of leaning forward and incorporating loose reins, wrap your arms around the horse's neck and quickly slide off. Once your feet hit the ground back away instantly so the horse doesn't hit your leg or land on your foot as it returns to all fours.
Some riders can do this while maintaining loose reins, others may elect to drop the reins completely and focus on sliding off ASAP. The key here is caution. Pride isn't worth broken bones… or worse. "Ride out" furious rearing only while in the confines of a supervised riding arena.
Now that we have looked at a couple of flawed "corrective actions" and learned how to ride through and/or dismount from a rearing session while under saddle, we're ready to learn some more specific techniques that can correct this misbehavior in Part Two of this series: How To Stop A Horse From Rearing While Riding.