How to respond to a bolting horse
I owned a 600 kilo horse called Joe who was a whirler and bolter.
How does a novice rider sit a bolting horse whilst riding English style? – put simply – he doesn’t. He’ll come off every time. So the novice must be a little more careful when choosing to mount an unknown horse.
The first law for the novice must be to go to a riding centre which has a herd of Schoolmaster horses who have been carefully selected and which are regularly used for teaching novices how to ride. It will takes months of regular riding sessions for the novice to pick up how to sit properly and how to control the horse thru the seat, the legs, the hands and the voice. Some folks just never learn to ride properly. A very few folks are naturals and pick up the skills in an amazingly short space of time. But to ride any horse safely, the novice must first learn the skills.
You, by sitting a bolting horse, learned very quickly that a horse can tell the moment you sit down on his back whether you can ride or not and some horses just won’t be ridden by novices.
An experienced rider stops a bolting horse according to the terrain. You want the horse to tire – so gently turn it uphill. You need the horse to realize it has to stop so turn it towards a substantial obstacle ie a hedge, a wall . But if you are on a wide open grassland area then sit it out, and slowly but surely restrict the movement of its head and neck. Pull back on the reins but gently. Start to talk to it, calm it down. Concentrate on keeping your seat – grab a handful of mane, grab a shoe lace attached to the rings on the saddle by the wither; stroke, if you can, the horse’s neck. When you feel the horse is slowing, turn it into a circle – large at first , but steadily tighten the turn. The horse can’t gallop much more than a mile. Sit that mile out, it will take 2-3 minutes that’s all. Don’t do anything to cause the horse to lose its footing. Accept that most reasonable horses don’t bolt thru cussedness. They bolt through fear – however unreasonable.
The long term cure for bolting is to determine what was the cause of the fear in the horse.
The cure for the rider is persistent schooling ie learning how to perfect his/her seat.
A rider can't practice anti bolting techniques.
If you get a whirler and bolter so long as it doesn’t discover downward facing slopes you’ll be able to turn it through the direction of the whirl. If the horse discovers that the rider, using an English saddle on a slope will slide onto the horse’s neck then it is time to say “Good bye” to the horse.
A persistent bolting horse was much feared in days when the horse was used for transportation. They were classified as lawless. They were to be avoided even by experienced professional riders.
If you survive intact a bolt then be thankful you did not break your neck.
Barry Godden Wales UK