Why Is My Horse Bunny Hopping In Canter

Nov 05, 2023 | Super Equestrian


Why Is My Horse Bunny Hopping In Canter

Suppose, You are training your horse trotting in a wide, open space to perform in a canter show and suddenly you notice an unexpected scenario that was out of your imagination. “ Oh dear, is he hopping like a bunny ?” and you are left wondering what is the reason behind your horse's strange behavior.

Well, when your afflicted horses canter, they lose their normal balance and flexibility. Therefore they misjudge the pattern beat while trotting and alight their hind feet on the ground in an unsuitable way which causes them to stride incorrectly like a bunny hop pace. 

Joint pain is the most common reason behind horses’ bunny hopping. Moreover, there are some issues that can subtly affect horses' performance, such as discomfort, muscle imbalance, weakness, improper training and riding technique, and so on.

Understanding the reasons behind your horses’ bunny hopping behavior can assist you in observing their movement. Because if you are not aware of their bunny hopping gait, it will not only degrade their performance but also can cause others serious health issues.

So, without wasting time, let's go to the arena and learn more about why a horse bunny hops and what the solution is!

Causes of Bunny Hopping in Canter

Some people may laugh when they see horses hopping like a bunny in an odd way. Obviously, they don't perform like that on purpose. There are some issues that cause them to hop like a bunny in a canter. 

Physical Issues:

  1. Pain or discomfort:  As human beings, we behave unusually when we feel discomfort or pain. Thus the same goes for horses. One of the major reasons behind their bunny hopping is joint pain or restlessness. It can be for any injury or physical illness. Such as bone infection, fracture, muscle dislocation, sprain, ligament swelling and so on.
  2. Weakness or muscle imbalances : Furthermore, if horses are not properly fed, they will become weak due to a lack of nutrients. They will not have much energy in their bone muscles to canter. As a result, horses lose their balance and stride their feet in an inadequate way causing them to hop like bunnies. 

Behavioral Issues: 

  1. Fear or anxiety: Despite being a gentle creature, this one-toed mammal can behave strangely when it feels anxious or scared. Sometimes the horse jumps up from a sudden sense of fear and starts kicking around. And If you are wondering about horse kicking you may visit our other article about what causes a horse to kick. 
  2. Lack of training or proper conditioning: Even a lack of training or proper conditioning can cause a horse to hop like a bunny. If horses are not physically fit or do not have proper training, they won't be able to respond accurately. As a result, it can lead to poor performance.

Rider-related Issues: 

  1. Incorrect riding technique: Most of the time we consider behavioral and physical issues behind the strange behavior of horses. But at times incorrect riding techniques can be the reason for their unusual performance. 
  2. Inadequate seat or balance: There are some common mistakes that riders make while riding such as wrong riding position, inadequate seat, imbalance, confusing the horse while leading, or sometimes unnecessary whipping. Those riding issues can cause horses to behave strangely, for example hopping like a bunny while trotting.

Diagnosing the cause of Bunny Hopping

Identifying the cause for any disease or health issue is one of the most important steps before going for a treatment, and understanding the reasons behind horses' odd behavior can help to determine the problem. So, the question is how can we determine the cause for horse’s bunny hopping? So, here we've discussed some strategies that can help you in determining the cause of horse bunny hopping.

1. Observing the horse's behavior and movement: It is the easiest way to determine the horse's issues while observing their behavior. If you have a good understanding with your equine, then it will take less effort to find out the cause. Aside from that, you can also observe their movement during the training period, and identify whether they are experiencing any kind of pain or discomfort from injuries or illness.

2. Consulting with a veterinarian or trainer:  Having a consultation with an experienced veterinarian is the ideal option for finding out about your horse's bunny hopping problem. If they are feeling pain or in a somewhat uncomfortable situation, go to vets and seek their advice. 

On the other hand, you can hire some professional trainers to provide proper training to your horses. It may help you to identify if there are any riding-related issues as well.

3. Assessing the rider's technique and equipment: The last but not least step is to assess the riding materials as well as the rider's technique. It may assist you if there is any fault in equipment that causes horse bunny hopping in the canter.

Solutions for Bunny Hopping

Despite being great performers, sometimes horses become helpless in such circumstances as bunny hopping while trotting. As they can't express their pain, weakness, anxiety, and discomfort verbally, so it is our responsibility to find out their problem and solution according to their behavior and movement. Therefore, we’ve discussed some ways out for bunny hopping.  

  • Treatment of physical issues:  Bunny hopping is a physical disorder for horses. For example, wrong movement, difficulty moving, feeling discomfort or pain, and so on. So, if you notice that your horse is unwell or having any joint pain or a muscle imbalance, start their treatment as soon as possible through communication with veterinarians.  
  • Behavioral training and desensitization: Train your horses with different manners and commands. It will aid you in horse behavioral training. Moreover, teach them how to overcome from experiencing some unusual feelings like fear or anxiety.
  • Rider education and training: As a rider, you need to know the proper way to ride a horse. Because it is not only about how to train your horse for a perfect ride but also for riders. So, it is necessary to learn about riding and have proper training.

Besides, if you want to know the guidelines about riding lessons, you can check out our other article on how often you should take horse riding lessons.

  • Proper conditioning and exercise: It is important to take good care of your four-legged companion. Such as exercising your horses regularly, warming up before training them for canter, doing plenty of stretching exercises, adjusting their balance, increasing work gradually, and so on.

As people can learn more easily from watching videos than reading those monotonous lines! So out of concern for your convenience we have attached a video link about How to stop bouncing in a canter.

Enclosure

Overall, it is understandable that bunny hopping for horses is a serious issue. It can be caused due to physical, behavioral, or rider-related issues. So make sure you find out their problem properly and provide a possible treatment to solve this situation. Because it is important for the horse’s well-being and the safety of the riders as well. Besides, if needed you can seek professional help from any experienced veterinarian or trainer.

I hope this will significantly reduce their hopping behavior while performing canter. And please let us know if you have experienced any of your horse's bunny-hopping situations. 

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