How to stop a bolting horse
At the time of posting this note, 777 visits had been made to the thread - that’s quite a few riders looking at what to do if the horse bolts. Riding a bolting horse can be a terrifying experience and one which might lead to a painful fall. So the real question must be what to do to avoid sitting on a bolting horse. Firstly it is very important to think about what to do before it actually happens - what would you do in the circumstances? Don’t necessarily practice, just give the whole question serious consideration after all it might happen to you. Consider the options, devise a plan and commit it to memory. Horses, except for my Joe, don’t usually bolt as an evasion, but they will bolt through fear. So, consider seriously what might make your horse bolt. Work to reduce the horse’s fears. The horse when bolting may well hurt itself - a torn ligament is a very likely possibility. So stopping the animal from bolting is in everyone’s interest not least the horse‘s.
A frightened horse, generally looks to its rider for confidence. The rider will have to calm the horse before the bolt starts, once it has started and immediately after the bolt has come to a stop - regardless of the outcome. So learn about your horse’s psyche and get to know what calms your horse down. Whips don’t work well in such scenarios - pain increases fear. Neither does a bit which crushes a horse’s mouth. Pain doesn’t reduce fear it just makes fear painful. Calm words, soft hands help to soothe a horse - if it will listen. Trouble is that a frightened horse does not hear too well. So somehow, to prevent your horse from bolting, you’ve got to get it to trust you. Work on it.
What I am trying to say is that prevention is better than cure. To survive a ride on a bolting horse is as much a matter of luck as judgement, but a trip to the A&E in a hospital is nearly always a painful experience. From all the advice posted on this thread, work out what you might do in the circumstances and think of a back up plan. As I wrote before, don’t practice as there is a good chance it won’t ever happen to you.
But one thing to consider very seriously is the preparation for any ride
Never ride out without wearing a riding hat.
Consider seriously wearing a body protector and even a day-glo jacket
Connect to the horse’s bridle a tag marked with the address and telephone number of the stable.
Keep in the pocket, a card with the name and home address of the rider together with at least two emergency telephone numbers
Carry a mobile phone
And finally always tell someone where you are going and how long for
Oh and seriously think of riding out with a friend.
There is no best way to survive a bolt. You will have to keep your calm for a minute or two which will seem like an hour or so. Sit the ride out, keep your seat, steer the horse away from dangerous obstacles. Transmit to the horse your confidence and competence. Don’t shout. Bring the horse down from bolt, to gallop, to canter, to trot, to walk. Remember that the biggest risk to the rider of a bolting horse is that the horse loses its footing. Don’t do anything to unbalance the horse.
Oh, one other thing, don’t fall off