The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

Why does my horse buck?

There can’t be much wrong with him if he can keep bucking people off the way he does”, is how I was greeted at a yard recently. 

(If you prefer, you can listen to this blog on YouTube here).

I know I’m preaching to the converted here, so it’s safe to vent my frustration. I’ve put years into writing ‘Brain, Pain, or Training’ and then more into writing ‘Harmonious Horsemanship’ in partnership with Dr Sue Dyson. Dr Dyson has spent years developing the Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (also known as the Ridden Horse Performance Checklist – download your FREE PDF here) and ensuring that multiple robust scientific studies back up the list of 24 behaviours. That’s on top of the hundreds of scientific papers she’s been involved in around horse health. And that’s just me and Dr Dyson.

There’s a worldwide conversation around social license for equestrianism. Discussions around horse welfare are at the top of the Paris Olympics agenda.

Yet on the ground, at a yard where I’ve been treating every month for over ten years, I still hear, “There can’t be much wrong with him if he can keep bucking people off the way he does.” Can you hear my not-so-silent scream of frustration? I’ve written a blog on bucking, but it’s not enough.

One by one, we can work together to help horses who are misunderstood or ignored. Your mission today, should you choose to accept it, is to share this blog with two friends who you think would enjoy the FREE 30-minute online documentary “The 24 Behaviors of the Ridden Horse in Pain – Shifting the Paradigm of How We See Lameness”. If you haven’t watched it yet yourself, I highly recommend taking half an hour of your busy life to do so (have some tissues handy). It’s a powerful way to share your knowledge that horses can only communicate pain or discomfort through their behaviour or performance. And by doing so, you will make a difference in the world.

Thank you for being passionate enough about the well-being of horses everywhere to take the time to share this message.


Sue Palmer MCSP, aka The Horse Physio, is an author, educator, and award-winning Chartered Physiotherapist. Sue specialises in understanding the links between equine pain and behaviour, caring deeply for her clients, and promoting calm, connection, courage and confidence through curiosity, compassion, clarity, and creativity.

Popular books and online courses from Sue Palmer include:

Harmonious Horsemanship, co-authored with Dr Sue Dyson

Understanding Horse Performance: Brain, Pain or Training?

Horse Massage for Horse Owners

Stretching Your Horse: A Guide to Keeping Your Equine Friend Happy and Healthy

Sue is registered with the RAMP, the ACPAT, the IHA, the CSP and the HCPC.