Bolting?! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 06-21-2013, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2012
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Exclamation Bolting?!

I have a thirteen year old trail horse that has recently (in the past couple days) taken to bolting on me. He has never tried to bolt on me before this. He bolted on me when I was riding him bareback, and when I tried to one-rein him, I fell off. He proceeded to bolt all the way home. When I caught him, I jumped back on and he was well behaved and respectful.
When I got back to the barn, I round penned him and backed him all over the place, and he was perfectly respectful.

The next day, I decided to do ground work with him, and when I asked him to canter on the lunge line, he tried to jump sideways away from me (I didn't have my lunge whip with me, so he wasn't shying away from that.) and he tripped himself, falling on his side, When he got back up, he had mildly scratched his right hind leg with his left hoof. I rinsed it off thoroughly and doctored it, and it is fine now.

Yesterday, I was riding on the trail with some friends of mine, and he had been wonderful up until the way back. We were about one fourth of the way back, and we were going at a comfortable trot. Suddenly, he shot forward, and I tried to one-rein him, but he slammed me into a low-hanging pine tree. I was pulled back, but once we were clear of the tree, I was able to one-rein him. He stopped immediately, and I trotted him out again, doing a one rein stop every few strides, until I asked him for a no-reins stop, and he halted right away. He was fine for the rest of the ride.
I scraped up and bruised my chin and neck pretty badly, and I am scared to ride my horse because I don't know why he is acting like this. My parents will not allow me to sell this horse, so I am stuck with him. I do think that I am partially causing the bolting because I have always been terrified of going fast, and I would like to get and older, dead-broke horse to get over my fear on. I would also like to know what I can do with this horse to get him behaving.
Thank you so much for any help/advice you can give me!

It should be horse listening, not horse whispering
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post #2 of 10 Old 06-21-2013, 04:37 PM
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Texas
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Wow...Glad you're pretty much ok. Bolting is a bummer. So you have to figure out what is causing it. Is he bored? hurt? Scared? Or just able to get away with it?

So test one variable at a time.
Take him on a halter and lead where you normally ride. Pony him if you have another horse to use and see if he does this when you're not on him. I would go from there.
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post #3 of 10 Old 06-21-2013, 05:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
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When next your ride, don't allow him to think. Practise this at home first. He's not allowed to walk in a straight line because he will start thinking. By bending him in circles, serpentines, backing more circles, side passing, etc he doesn't get the chance to think but pay mind to what you are asking. Practise this for 5 days in a row if you can to drill it into his noggin that you are in control. When you trail ride, either alone or with someone else, keep his mind busy and don't let him return home any faster than the walk for now. The circles will have him thinking he's heading for home but it also takes him farther away. A horse can deal with this type of pressure only so long then will relax. As long as he's relaxed you can let him walk but the moment it changes, back to your exercises. Ask your friends that you all turn and ride back up the trail again. Do not let your horse make any decisions until it learns to make the right ones.
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post #4 of 10 Old 06-22-2013, 01:53 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Connecticut
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Are his eyes okay? I had a friend who's older bomb proof horse suddenly started spooking. Turned out he had gone partially blind in one eye and the shadows he was seeing out the eye was scaring the crap out of him.
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post #5 of 10 Old 06-22-2013, 07:56 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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If you are able to rule out any physical issues with him and it's him just being a jerk there are a couple way I would personally handle it.

Bolting is dangerous and NOT acceptable in any form with my horses in the least. Don't anticipate it because he can feel that. Try and stay relaxed when riding him but keep a good seat in case he does take off. If he takes off I would immediately grab WAY down on one side of the reins and get his head around while kicking with the outside leg and keep making him go in small circles for a minute and then immediately walk him back out. If you have control of the horse's nose they really can't physically keep moving forward very well. I would absolutely not accept the bolting very lightly and wouldn't be afraid to really get after him for it.

Personally I over and under the horse I am on while kicking with the outside leg in a small circle when they act up or bolt. Circles are the best way to get a horse listening again. If you feel the need too keep your horse with his nose slightly to one side while riding him and feel for him trying to grab the bit and take off and immediately circle him.

You need to be the boss and make sure he knows it is NOT okay to bolt with you at all.

If you aren't scared, you aren't running fast enough!
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post #6 of 10 Old 06-22-2013, 10:11 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Oklahoma
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He does not need a reason to bolt. He will continue to bolt. He may (or may not) have had a reason or something that scared him the first time. Now he does it just because he does it. Horses are 'creatures of habit'.

I actually divide bolters into two groups.

1) Horses that bolt -- period. They will bolt in an arena, out in the open and anywhere they 'think' they have a conjured up reason to bolt.

2) Runaways -- always run toward home. They never bolt going away from home or in an arena but use any excuse to run home.

The best way I have found to get horses over this is to get them 'better broke'. That involves teaching each of them that you can control their speed. We have a 120 foot round pen to work cattle in. It is the perfect place to do this.

We start out loping circles and coming back to a jog and walk. When we can do downward transitions from the lope while circling both direction, we start running faster circles. We do several slow circles and then do one faster one (not full speed yet) and then bring the horse back to a slow lope and a jog.

This takes quite a bit of time. You only run one fast circle and then you do slow circles until the horse is very willing to go fast and slow back down. When you get the horse used to doing this, you run a very fast circle every once in a while and get the horse obedient enough that he comes back down to a jog.

I think what happens to get a lot of these horses started running off is that they have never been ridden at full speed. It scares them to death when they are suddenly running full speed. We work cattle with all of our young horses so they have to learn to be controllable at full speed. If a rider does not learn how to ride fast and control that speed and does not teach a horse to run fast and control that speed, they are just a wreck looking for a place to happen the first time a horse spooks and bolts. Then you have a habit that does not need a reason or an excuse to repeat itself.
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post #7 of 10 Old 06-23-2013, 02:27 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2010
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Horses also bolt because they can and they know it will get a ride over too.

Which is probably what is going on here.

Part of it may also be you are an aggravating rider at a trot, if your hands and seat are not steady. But mostly think it is just horse has learned it is in control.

Need to keep a better hold on reins, and pay attention to what horse is thinking too.
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post #8 of 10 Old 06-25-2013, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2012
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Thank you very much for all of your help! :) I'm going to work on him on the trail and in the arena with my trainer supervising.
I got the vet to check his eyes, and had the farrier and chiropractor out to check him too, and he's fine.
I'm going to take lessons twice a week to help with my riding, and I'm going to also ride some lesson horses to get my seat and hands under control.
Thanks again! :)

It should be horse listening, not horse whispering
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post #9 of 10 Old 06-25-2013, 08:07 AM
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Utah
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If you can find if there's a specific trigger for the bolts, that will help. For example, my horse tends to bolt because he spooks at floppy/flappy things—riding bareback, loose saddle, insecure rider (my trainer had to find the latter one out by having someone else ride him, which I took as a bit of a compliment.) So I've been working with him both on one-rein stops but also on desensitizing him so he doesn't get triggered into a bolt. It's definitely helping.
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post #10 of 10 Old 06-25-2013, 08:41 AM
Join Date: Jul 2012
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Get the vet to check him out he might be in pain.Or he might just be spooky
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