My horse gets strong and over-forward and then bolts when I get scared. He is anglo-arab so very sensitive to my emotions, fear especially. My coach is teaching me how to shut him down and what we do is kind of similar to the pulley rein but it's not constant pressure on the free hand... as it is an EMERGENCY stop (and we use a snaffle) firm on-off-on-off pressure works much better. You don't yank, you don't give the horse anything to fight against. The release is the most important part. I'm still working on that!!
I have seen my coach employ the emergency stop he is teaching me, using it on a VERY strong and wilful 15hh welsh cob... he could stop that cob every time within the space of a stride.
I disagree with Barry, a long loose rein is not necessarily a recipe for disaster. It depends on the horse, and how fast the rider can shorten their reins. Long reins mean little to no leverage which means little to no stopping power. A skilled rider with a strong position can stop pretty much any horse if they have to (the example my coach used was a 17hh OTTB that thinks it's race day). It's when we have weaknesses in our position that our horses can pull us off balance and get away from us. I have a tendency to slouch a little bit and I definitely have pram hands... causing all the problems I have with Monty, including difficulty getting him to work into the bridle. It's a bit hard for him to work into a contact when that contact is inconsistent.
As a person who has struggled with this issue with three horses now, the best thing you can do is get a good coach and learn how to shut your horse down as soon as the feel changes. As soon as he goes heavy on the forehand, I know that Monty is about to buck, and I know I have to shut him down. He bucks in the canter sometimes, especially the transitions, and that is how he gets away from me. As soon as that head goes down and his forehand is heavier, I have to shut him down and bring him back to a trot.
As soon as he gets heavy in my hands when we're jumping, I have to shut him down. Walk or halt, either works. He gets strong, he is NOT allowed to jump. He has to listen to a 1/10 aid or he doesn't jump. I have had to apply 10/10 to get him to stop!! Didn't really like doing that but it did make him lighter. You give them the option to respond to the light aid and then you get tough on them. With a young or green horse the aids you use progress from the lightest touch upwards until you get a result. SLOWLY. With a horse that KNOWS, it's literally, touch 'pretty please' and if no result 'YOU WILL DO IT NOW'. The trick is knowing how much your individual needs, and it varies according to the horse's energy level on the day.
With a horse that is strong, or a bolter, you have issues in the slower gaits as well as the canter and/or jumping, so the basic flatwork is going to help. Respect is vital. Respect of ALL the aids! You have to have a soft stop, soft forward (CONTROLLED forward with good rhythm at the gait/length of stride you are asking for), and very good soft left and right turns. If those basics aren't there, that's when you have a horse that is difficult. My coach likes me to re-establish the very very basics every time I warm my horse up.
Now, I hate using the 10/10 aid, but it is necessary sometimes! 10/10 is only for emergencies when you can't stop the horse no matter what else you do. It is ALL your strength, coming from a STRONG position, core engaged and heels down. The release and soften from YOU is the most important part of any aid. My coach is always at me to be firm with Monty. FIRM, not harsh, not rough. You don't yank. Ever. Not unless it's a REAL emergency and you really need STOP NOW NO QUESTIONS JUST DO IT.
Boy I wish I'd had the confidence and strength of position to use the 10/10 aid back months ago when I had my bad fall... that fall would never have happened. I firmly believe that had I not been wearing a helmet I would have died that day, or worse, ended up with some degree of brain damage. Long story short, we were galloping, Monty got too forward, and he wouldn't slow up no matter what I did... because I didn't have the strength of position to apply an aid strong enough.
I believe he would have bolted with me (AGAIN. for about the 10th time) today had my coach not been there to help me shut him down. Mind, it's not easy to fall out of my saddle, but even so, being bolted with is terrifying. I have fallen out of my saddle 3 times since I bought it... one of them was silly, I went one way and my horse at the time went the other. The other two, both off Monty, could have been very nasty. One, Monty bucked me off (canter transitions in group lessons SUCK - well, actually, when his energy is up, no matter the circumstance, he wants to buck), and the other was my bad fall.
The only thing that knowing how to shut a horse down won't help is not enough forward! There are different methods that you use for different problems, of course. Bucking and bolting are shut down using pretty similar methods - hands UP and strong but flexible position - whereas if you can feel a rear coming a one rein stop is invaluable. DO NOT turn a horse that is already off the ground in a rear. ONLY use the ORS if you feel it coming and can act in time.
Um. Sorry for the novel!
Edit; forgot something
Last edited by blue eyed pony; 11-02-2011 at 08:06 AM.