Fortunately, I have only had to ride out a handful of true fear bolts in the past 30-years. One was last Fall, when 4 friends and I were out for a trail ride on gaited/hotter horses. A german shepherd ran up behind us on trail, and off all 4 went, hell bent. What works for me, is it depends on how much speed has built up once I find my seat. If we are at a fast gallop, I zig zag my reins (I ride in a snaffle) until I get his attention. Then I start a modified 1 rein stop (I don't just throw their head around...in fear of flipping them). I pull and release on 1 side until slow enough to then finish off by pulling them all the way around.
I know a trainer that uses the method Kevinshorses uses. It has been very effective on the horses I have seen him do it on. Not always possible when riding with friends though. If I had one that was bolting because they learned it worked, that is exactly what I would do, making sure everyone in the group knew that's what I was doing so they didn't worry.
Actually the best way to stop a bolt is to prevent it from happening in the first place
Yes, you can't prevent every bolt or spook but to keep the horses mind focused on its job helps out a lot! If they do bolt, circle and work them back to what you were doing in the first place. They'll realize bolting doesn't do much in the end.
You know what I found helpful training for horses that bolt, spin,d rop shoulders etc? Those mechanical bulls you get at shows. You learn to grip with your thighs for sure!
I was always told keep a contact, but don't pull back with your hands. The horse will just use its neck as a fifth leg and go. Sit back, and use seat and legs as you would for a halt, voice commands too.
I've only ever had to spin a horse on a circle once when it galloped off with me and we were about to tank in to a group of elderly people on their sunday morning walk. The horse span, I kept spinning as it bolted off in the other direction and promptly landed on my bum. It also pulls the bit through the mouth... not a fan!
...So the proper answer to your question is : don't allow yourself to be in a situation where the horse can take off, stretch its neck and snatch the reins from your hands. By all means talk to your companions but don't relax your concentration of steering and controlling the horse. And as for riding on a long loose rein rather than collected with a light contact with the horse's mouth - well you are asking for trouble - going out or coming home...
I'll have to disagree with you here. I have a hard time imagining a cowboy riding "collected with a light contact with the horse's mouth" for a 10 hour day, working cattle while maintaining his "concentration of steering and controlling the horse".
I don't think I've ever seen anyone trail ride in southern Arizona with constant contact.
I did have one experienced rider tell me that was how I need to ride Mia - to never let her go more than a half dozen steps without giving her some direction. If that is the only way to control her, I'll sell her to someone who wants to ride that way. I've had her for 4 years, and she is the horse that made me interested in riding, but if that proves to be the only way to control her, she's gone.
I'm more likely to try this:
Originally Posted by kevinshorses
Any horse I ride that tries to bolt had better stop in about 2 strides because if it takes longer than that I'm going to stop trying to stop the horse and go to spurring. The runaway doesn't last long after that and rarely happens again...
That may explain why, when my former ranch horse gelding gets really scared, he locks up. Feet apart, head up, nostrils flared...and not moving a muscle. He's only been that scared a couple of times, but I find that highly preferable to running away. He may have been taught that bolting means you immediately enter hell itself. I don't mind the idea of once a year or so encountering something that requires me to get off the horse and take a couple of minutes rubbing his neck, and then mounting and going on.
I also don't have the option of desensitizing her to everything. I cannot desensitize her to a partially buried thorn on the trail, or a rattlesnake coiling up next to her. And in a land of rock and cholla, I cannot afford to have her running mindlessly (Internet image, but looks like the area around me):
If the horse is in a full bolt and the rider has lost it, then by all means try to turn and run with the turn , but if you are in a narrow country lane with banks on either side, if trees mark the edge if the path, then the rider has no choice but to saw the bit on the horse's mouth : left, right,: left right.
The horse needs full use of its head and neck to bolt - deny the horse the full use of its neck then it has to slow. But it takes a strong pair of hands and arms to restrict a horse's neck action.
The big risk for the rider - other than being thrown off, is for the horse to lose its footing and fall and if the rider is underneath the horse, then something has to break - usually it is the rider.
As Kevin has said , if the horse gets established in bolt, then it takes a strong rider to stop it, so you might as well push the horse until it is tired - or it comes to its senses.
If the horse bolts downhill on tarmac or concrete indeed any surface which the hooves cannot dig into, then it can't stop - even if it wants to.
And remember noone can practice the counter measures to a bolt.
Out of control bolting, be it from deliberate lawlessness or thru abject fear - is dangerous to both rider and horse. The difference between a gallop and a bolt,
Is that when bolting the horse is out of control. The risk to the rider is a nasty fall at speed, the risk to the horse is a torn ligament.
I always ride with a loose rein at the walk if the horse will let me. I only ride "in contact" at the trot and canter. A neighbor always tells me I "throw my reins away." Honestly, I am sort of proud of the fact I can ride on a loose rein and my horses and I have that kind of trust. (Now sometimes my Fox Trotter is barn sour when the weather is cold and I have to keep contact at the walk coming home, but she's getting better. )
I have had horses spook /bolt when I was relaxed on a loose rein at the walk. What usually happens is that I neck rein them around in a circle. As I am holding the end of an 8 ft roping rein with one hand, neck reining is about all I am prepared for. That has never gone badly for me yet. (Knock on wood). If the horse was honestly terrified, like an attacking dog or something, and bolted straight away without a chance to turn, I would do a pull and release with the reins. As I am normally riding in a curb, that has never failed me yet (knock on wood). It seems like most of the time it is a temporary scare, not a real boogey man coming after the horse, so normally I can just spin them right back around by neck reining.
The closest I have come to a horse actually running away with me was with a 20-something year old paint gelding. We were almost home and the horses in a neighbor's pasture came galloping up and he wanted to go with them. I managed to get him stopped just by pulling and releasing but he did run a fair distance before I regained control. I didn't feel comfortable riding him in the same bit after that (a Billy Allen mouth curb). I do sometimes ride in a plain snaffle (on different horses, the Paint passed away) and I always figured if the truly bolted my best chance would be turning them into a spiral (first a wide turn and then smaller and smaller).
I am afraid to try a one-rein stop. I can see the horse flipping over in my mind.
WOW! Give me a bombproof horse anytime. I was half leasing a horse that really took care of me. We went on many trail rides and I was careful to keep a light control of him with the reins. Once when other horses took off I was able to keep him from running off...he was a great horse!! Out on the trail he did a few crow hops but that was all. I wouldn't want to ride a horse that has a history of bolting. I have heard that OTTB will bolt sometimes out of the clear blue sky just because they feel like it. Not for me. Cowboy....you have a good horse and it would be hard to keep tight control of him for 10 hours out in the desert or out on the range. You need a horse that you can trust and it looks like you have one.