horse bolts on trail

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horse bolts on trail

Post by Admin on Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:47 am

Dear Panel: My husband's beautiful walker bolts on occasion, just often enough that I know my husband is getting discouraged and losing interest in riding.



This horse never did this in the 6-7 years we owned him until the last 2 1/2 years. He was a pretty nice horse, not perfect, when we got him until then. My husband's riding skills are somewhere between beginner and intermediate.



The horse bolted twice on me in the pasture only when I deviated from his usual 3-piece wonderbit, once being a bitless bridle and the other time an Imus comfort bit, which really now, is the only one that really fits him, he has such a huge head. His objective those two times seemed to be getting back to his buddy, my horse. He did not dump me at least.



However, he was in his regular bit both times he bolted on my husband and dumped him by twirling. Once on a trail ride when deer scared him; the other time just outside our own fence when a neighbor's colt was making a fuss just after dark because the colt was being weaned away from its mother. He was so out of control that time, I don't know what kept him from stepping on or running over my husband.



In all the horses I have had to deal with, I have never had to deal with a bolter. I am at a loss and I'm afraid for both this horse and my husband if I don't find a way to handle it correctly.



Thank you.



Connie
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Re: horse bolts on trail

Post by Paul Williamson on Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:01 pm

Paul- Hi Connie,



I think you have to be very careful on which way you tackle this because if you enjoy having your husband ride and doing the horses with you could risk losing that if he has one or two more bad experiences, not to mention that he might get hurt.



If it were me, I'd find him a more quiet horse because even if you can stop this horse from taking off with you, you are still going to be helpless when your husband rides. Bolting is a very bad habit and once the horse knows it can get away anytime, it would just be a matter of time before he tries it again.



I'd say talk to your husband and find out how much confidence he has left and if it's worse than you thought, quit while you are ahead and find him a quieter horse to enjoy - or look up a professional for riding lessons. There's a good chance your horse chooses bolting because he can feel your husband's insecurity/inexperience. By building his confidence in riding, he will be better equipped to be a proper "pilot" (leader) for your horse.



Ultimately - Yes, you could probably fix the bolting but it has to be your husband that fixes it if you want it to work for him.



The key to stop a horse from bolting is the one-rein-stop. You need to make sure that your horse has a soft neck and mouth and knows just how to respond when his head is turned to the side. Once he is familiar with the exercise in walk, trot, and canter in an enclosed area, you can take him back outside. It is vital that he knows what he has to do in any situation so he doesn't work himself up and try to find a way out himself, which would be bolting in his case. He has to be so familiar with the one-rein-stop that it becomes his safety zone. Preferably you should get him to the point where he would flex his head to your feet himself when he feels insecure before you let your husband back on. But if your husband still needs to be a confident rider in order to reassure the horse. Remember, confidence isn't neccesarily experience but both he and the horse needs to feel safe for this to work out.



Best of luck to you and your husband, Connie.



Paul
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Re: horse bolts on trail

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:22 am

from former panelist Cody:

Connie, look at your own horsemanship skills and notice where the holes are. We have all got to be objective about our own horsemanship when we see things like this. This is a control issue, nothing more. The training foundation needs to be solidified. When everything is calm, you can still see how the horse will act when he's upset. Does he stop/whoa on command? What does he do when he wants to go one way and you want to go another? The behavior at these times are a good indicators of lack of respect/control.

Get control of his feet. A good place to start regaining control would be with turning - trotting along an arena fence, when he begins to speed up, tip his head towards the fence until he slows down and then continue on. Work on walk trot (gait) transition, turning his head into the fence to wait for him to downshift into a walk. This is gaining control of his feet. When you get proficient at this, all you'll need to do is take the rein and begin the same movement as you practiced in the arena. When the situation then comes up on the trail, have a game plan about what you will do if he tries to bolt. Before he bolts you will have an indication of what he's going to do. His body will tighten up- learn to read your horse- notice his posture. When you begin to see him tense up, this is the time to execute the maneuver, not when he's in full flight. Feel free to correspond more about this issue as you begin to regain control.

Stay safe and take care,

Cody
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