Advice request: how to stay on a bolting horse

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Advice request: how to stay on a bolting horse

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  • Stay on a bolting horse

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    10-08-2013, 08:40 PM
Advice request: how to stay on a bolting horse

I'm not riding at the moment, since I'm resting up to let my broken tailbone heal. The injury occurred two weeks ago when I was doing some arena work with my horse. He was standing still, and suddenly decided that something was suddenly deeply terrifying and bolted top-speed across the arena. He changed direction at the gate, whereupon I came off, hit the sand and then bounced off the the arena fencepost. Voila, much bruising and a broken tailbone.

So I've gotten to thinking - to what degree was this preventable? While I've only got a year or so of riding experience and still have a lot to learn, I've been feeling quite a bit more secure in my seat lately - I've stayed on through some fairly dramatic spooking incidents where my horse did the leap-and-wheel-and-skitter thing, and I felt reasonably stable and balanced throughout. But clearly I'm not there yet, as the bolting incident demonstrates. So I'm looking for ideas, suggestions and advice regarding things I can work on and practice that might help increase the odds of me staying mounted the next time my horse decides that the arena is goblin-infested and he needs to run for the hills right now. Are there any exercises I can practice or things to try that might help me deal with a bolting horse more gracefully (i.e. Not falling off)? Any suggestions or advice?
SammysMom likes this.
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    10-08-2013, 09:02 PM
The thing is. There is no amount of training that will help you stay in the saddle. Your balance is what saves your butt. You need to be one with your horse and go with the flow. Its something that is learned and not trained.
    10-08-2013, 09:07 PM
Wow, poor you. :( Healing wishes to you.

That you stayed on for the initial bolt is great. Did you have any chance to use the pulley rein or a one rein stop? I prefer the pulley rein. The best cure is to stop the bolt, but not always so easy to do.

Honestly, we all come off and it doesn't sound like your situation was an unreasonable fall. Quick movements don't give us time to prepare. A deep seat, centered weight...

Did anyone see it? They might have some insight, but it could have happened so fast that only a video would really show anything.

I think you should go and get yourself a saddle pad. You will likely be sore for a while :(
    10-08-2013, 09:08 PM
Green Broke
It's not really preventable. The best thing is to anticipate the when the spook is going to happen. Be aware of your surrounds, what sets your horse off and his warning signs. If he does take off the best thing to do would be stop him ASAP before he really gets going. A one rein stop and a solid vocal woah are extra handy here. Next best things, hang on for dear life and anticipate any sudden turns/stops. It's not usually the bolting that throws people, its the stops, turns, jumps, etc. Lastly, if your going to fall MAKE IT YOUR CHOICE. Bear hug that neck and swing off. You can even practice this in the arena.
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SammysMom likes this.
    10-08-2013, 09:15 PM
Green Broke
Grab strap. I originally put one on my saddle after my leased horse dumped me a couple times (bucking) and really shattered my confidence. Just having it there made me feel a little better, although I think I only actually needed it once with him.

After I stopped leasing him I went shopping for my own horse, and did a test ride on a very green horse who had been taught canter but not woah I saw the quick change of direction coming and was in my saddle (with the strap still on it!), and that strap is the only reason I didn't come flying off of that horse!

I don't ride with the strap anymore, but if I wouldn't hesitate to put it back on if I thought I might need it!
Wallaby likes this.
    10-08-2013, 09:32 PM
Hmm. Reading these replies, I sheepishly recall that yes, I do in fact already have a grab strap on my saddle; and I've practiced a one-rein stop in the past. But neither of these things occurred to me in the heat of the moment. Actually, it all took place very quickly. It's hard to be sure in retrospect, but I think that the whole episode maybe lasted two seconds at most? I recall being startled by the sudden leap-into-motion and kinda thrown off-balance and a bit backward; I spent the first couple of moments trying (unsucessfully) to regain my balance vertically. And then my horse swerved at the gate, and I faceplanted.

My partner was watching the episode, but I fell at the far end of the arena with the horse between him and me, so he couldn't really see a lot of details. We do sometimes video our riding sessions, but unfortunately we didn't take the camera on this occasion.

Maybe I should rehearse the horse-bolting-then-one-rein-stop sequence in my head over and over. I can't practice the actual sequence of events, because that relies on being surprised by a horse bolting; but if I drill myself mentally, maybe that'll make it a bit more automatic as a reaction when the time comes? It's worth a try, maybe.
    10-08-2013, 09:59 PM
My guy is (used to be?) prone to spook/bolt. I have always gone with the following steps 1) Regain my balance and steer horse a safe-ish direction (left or right rather than straight at an obstacle) 2) Once my balance is back, then we're just galloping without permission, and that's too easy to deal with. Pulley-rein or spiral down into smaller and smaller circles. I've been lucky though- usually my guy has bolted when we were in the open and not straight at a fence that would require immediate action on my part. In a true bolt, I'm not too big on the whole one-rein thing- I know my horse can gallop one way with his head bent the other and I really don't want him to fall and take me with him.
    10-08-2013, 09:59 PM
Develope your core control, which in turn developes your balance. If in doubt, don't be afraid to grab some mane and pray :)
DimSum likes this.
    10-09-2013, 07:42 PM
Shock factor kills many rational thoughts! Not every time, but some times and those are the times we dive :( It has to become like an instinct. I will automatically do a ORS when necessary, but I would rather automatically do a pulley-rein. Still trying to train myself. What I do to train is just go for a walk/trot and practice the move (gently though) just "whenever." That trains me AND the horse.
This thread reminds me that I haven't been practicing that at all lately. Time to brush up!
    10-09-2013, 08:10 PM
I will say one thing: some horses are immune to one rein stops. My boy can have his nose to my boot at a dead gallop, unfased as I try to regain control. Make sure you don't have a horse with an elastic neck like I do, and save yourself some terrifying experiences 0.o
Sharpie likes this.

bolting, seat stability, staying on

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