How best to stop a bolt? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 35 Old 10-30-2011, 11:10 PM Thread Starter
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How best to stop a bolt?

So, on day two of owning Jayne, we had a bit of a bolt. I've been riding him for a few weeks, this is the first time, and it's not a problem for me in terms of fear/etc but I want to handle it better. We were trail riding and I was chatting with the rider behind me. I did not see the bicycle riding near us, but all was well anyway until the horse behind us exploded, causing everyone to spook. (I was told this is what happened after the fact.) What I know is that I was turned halfway around to the right say something to the person behind me one second and galloping down the beach the next. I was a little unseated, my left knee ended up near the pommel and lost my stirrups, but I got my behind back where it belonged (after being certain I was gonna eat dirt for a couple-five strides) and pulled him back down to a walk, then turned around and we continued on with our day.

Is it better to pull a horse back down straight (if they will listen) or one-rein stop? What if they're in a curb bit? I was worried about pulling him off balance, especially since I was a bit unbalanced, and he listened well enough, but is there a rule of thumb about this? Similarly, I've ridden horses who have spooked, started going backwards and gotten pretty light in the front- best course of action there?

I know it's better to prevent this stuff by paying attention to what's going on around me in the first place, but I doubt I will go through life without ever having a horse bolt on me again, so words of wisdom from the more experienced folks out there? This stuff is never something I've really gotten to practice during lessons.
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post #2 of 35 Old 10-30-2011, 11:25 PM
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Don't rely completely on your reins if your horse bolts, they're most likely just going to throw their heads and settle down on their own time. Sit deep in your saddle, let your body follow their movements so you don't get pitched off, and I find saying woah, whether the horse was taught verbal commands or not, works. I'm not saying leave your reins hanging there for nothing, but sitting like a rag doll with your reins pulled back over your head isn't going to help. Pull back with steady contact, one rein stopping is good, but I'm not sure how it would work in a solid-shanked curb. If your horse starts backing, give them the rein and push them forward, if you feel they're going to rear, pull on one rein, even if their nose touches your leg, they're going to have no option but to turn. Like you said, the best thing is to learn your horses ' warning signs ' whether it be ears, head, back, leg placement, anything, with time you'll get to know your horses quirks.

I'd love to see a 'spook preparedness' lesson, 'okay everyone, I'm going to spook your horses repeatedly so you can learn to deal with it'. Right ;)
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post #3 of 35 Old 10-30-2011, 11:32 PM
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I do not like the true one rein stop. I think it is dangerous. Instead, I will pull on one rein and ask the horse to flex, not bend completely in half. Slowly, I will pulse up on that rein, gradually circling the horse or otherwise throwing him off balance. You can alternate sides, as well.

Pulling straight back with constant pressure is ineffective. Jerking rapidly is also ineffective. Instead, you can rhythmically pulsate pressure, gradually on hard, gradually off, gradually on hard, and so on, timed with your horse's strides.
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post #4 of 35 Old 10-30-2011, 11:35 PM
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I agree with FreeDestiny. The closest I've ever come is practicing the "emergency dismount" which is actually fun if you're not actually in an emergency situation. If only you could take lessons on spooked horses! I have a Paint that's really spooky sometimes, and it is good practice for sure. I had a friend with a crazy arab that was a wacko anytime he didn't like anything at all... Hind sight, he'd probably be a great horse to practice this type of thing on!
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post #5 of 35 Old 10-31-2011, 05:32 AM
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I'd try pulling him up with two reins. Sit back, half halt a bit, and steadily pull him up. But if he's bolting outright and not listening to you at all, well first I'd try and do a circle, gradually growing smaller and my last choice would be a one rein, because I think pulling them in a circle at that speed can be very unbalancing and dangerous in its own way, and I normally ride in loose ring snaffles and the ring will likely get pulled through the mouth, rather than stopping like full cheek snaffle that I used to teach my horse those sort of turns.
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post #6 of 35 Old 10-31-2011, 06:22 AM
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I tighten my calves, take a couple spots from my flask and wait it out
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post #7 of 35 Old 10-31-2011, 11:43 AM
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There are several options, and I don't have an opinion on which is best. I think it varies with the situation.

One is the one-rein stop, which is not supposed to be "Pull the horse's nose to your knee and force him to stop". That is how I was taught it, but I've ops checked it on a gelding and we nearly went thru a barbed wire fence. Horses CAN gallop with their heads twisted around.

I believe the one rein stop is supposed to be a trained thing. At least, that is how one instructor told me to use it. In most cases, I think if you have room, a spiral that slows them down is good.

Another option is the pulley stop:

I've tried it while riding with a halter instead of a bridle, and it worked OK. The advantage is a straight stop, but the horse (mine, at least) will bolt again when pressure is released. The worst I have been hurt riding was when I tried to dismount after stopping her, and she bolted in mid-dismount. I landed back first on some rocks, and my back still hurts 3.5 years later.

I refused to use it on a bolt about 6 months ago, because I felt she would topple if I did. I don't know why I thought that...maybe she felt unbalanced to my subconscious mind.

If the terrain permits, what has worked best for me is my voice. "Easy" is my verbal command to drop down a gait. Settling in my seat, spreading my knees (I tend to clutch with my knees when nervous), loose reins and softly calling "Easy" has sometimes dropped her down a notch within a few steps. Once she remembers I'm there, she calms down.

If someone has the perfect, works every time technique, I'd sure like to know it. I need it...
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post #8 of 35 Old 11-01-2011, 07:23 PM
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Nice videos showing the difference between the two stops. I use the one rein stop to prevent a bolt, but after he's in gear, pulley rein is the only safe way to go unless you have an enormously large area to circle until the horse runs out of steam. I watched a jockey use the pulley rein on a racehorse who took off after a race. He had him under control in seconds. It didn't throw the horse off balance and was very impressive to watch.
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post #9 of 35 Old 11-01-2011, 07:50 PM
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I've always used my voice (saying "easy" and "ease up") with a blocking seat and contact on the reins. I don't pull or jerk, but keep in contact with him. Pulling/jerking seems to make him more anxious, while just having contact seems to help him remember I'm there and I'll take care of the problem. It works for Soda very well, but I've done a ton of work with him on it, silly boy is one of those "spin and bolters."

I used a one rein stop once and it worked, but it isn't always feasible where I ride.
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post #10 of 35 Old 11-01-2011, 07:55 PM
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Ah the combo spin and bolt. That's a fun maneuver to ride out! You do bring up an interesting point. Keeping contact in a flowing manner and easing the horse back is always more productive than giving him something to brace against.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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