First Fall In Two Years

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First Fall In Two Years

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        10-25-2013, 09:12 PM
    First Fall In Two Years

    I had my first fall in ages and it made me realize some things I had assumed wrongly about this horse. I also have some questions based off of the horses' s responses during the situation.

    I was riding a friend's horse in a western saddle. He used to be a lesson horse for little kids and is currently being trained to do dressage. The horse tends to bulge out to the left through turns. She has been working on that. He is very stiff to the left and will only flex that way after lots of bending/flexing.

    I rode him at the walk and trot for some time. He was really good. I asked him to canter and he was being great. Still stiff to the left, but really trying his best. I was cantering on the right lead when he spooked. He dead bolted. I took back on the reins assuming he'd immediately come back to me. I got no response what so ever. He then threw a buck as we came through a turn. The saddle started to slide to the left. I shifted my weight, hard, into the right stirrup to bring the saddle back to center. The horse became absolutely frantic as soon as I did this and threw another buck. The saddle slid to the side of his rib cage and I let go, since I couldn't save the situation.

    The horse was out of his mind by the time I was off of him and ran about until he caught a foot in the stirrup. He took 45 mins to calm down after the incident. We were both ok.

    Looking back now, I realize that this horse is can lose his mind. Had the saddle not slid, I would have stuck him till he calmed down. I'm not sure that he would have calmed down though. I debated how I will handle a situation like this in the future.

    My first thought is to run the horse into the wall if circling does not work. I then considered a one rein stop, but I feel the horse would have fallen in his panic, rather than stop. I'm hesitant to use the one rein stop for this reason. I've had a horse fall on me before, messing my knee up and pinning me underneath him.

    What do you recommend in that kind of situation?
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        10-25-2013, 09:25 PM
    Wow, that is incredibly dangerous.

    The saddle was too loose to start. A saddle should never slip like that, and that horse is lucky he didnt break his leg getting it caught in the stirrup like that.

    The major advice I have is triple check your equiptment before getting on. This fall probably could have been avoided.

    And I would have circled/one reined stopped. Horses can turn on a dime (I barrel race so can sit a tight turn) and I would have pulled his head around and kept him spinning until he stopped. He will not trip on purpose and if you are balanced in the saddle, there should be no problem.

    Trying to run him into a wall is going to have him going either left or right, and you continuing straight into the wall and breaking your face, collarbone, ribs or something else. Or your going to wind up on your butt in the opposite direction.
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        10-25-2013, 09:32 PM
    Firstly, glad you are both okay. A lot of people seem to be falling prey to unexpected dismounts this year.

    I notice there is a solution available to you that you have not considered regarding the ORS. You didn't mention if this horse knows it or not. If you took the time to teach it to him, then yes, I think it would be the best possible solution for his "moments".

    I spent the first 6 months with my first horse perfecting that particular move. The first few days, when I pulled on the rein, he would spin around and around until he finally decided that wasn't working and stopped. Gradually he got the idea of what the one rein being picked meant and eventually just stopped on a dime as soon as he felt me drop one rein and start to pick up the other. We worked on it in all 3 gaits and got it about as good as it can be. It's a fantastic tool for a trained horse. It's very dangerous for one that's never experienced it.

    Only other option post bolt is the pulley rein. Much harsher tool and you pretty much don't pre-train that one since it is so hard on the mouth.
        10-25-2013, 09:32 PM
    Yes. I blame myself. I checked the girth before I got on. It was tight. The saddle/girth are newer. I am not entirely familiar with western saddles and did not think to check it again after being on the horse for a bit. I should have considered the possibility that the newer leather of the saddle/girth might stretch and loosen. I won't make that mistake again.

    I never thought to try spinning them till they stop. Thanks for the suggestion.
        10-25-2013, 09:42 PM
    The owner told me that the horse knows the one rein stop. I've never had a horse get that frantic before, no matter how bad the situation. Would a trained horse still respond if it's absolutely panicked?
        10-25-2013, 09:49 PM
    Originally Posted by Bagheera    
    Would a trained horse still respond if it's absolutely panicked?
    If you have fast reflexes and can catch him the second he tries to bolt, then yes. It's kind of a mind over matter thing once they know it. At any gait, you can apply that aid and get the horse stopped in a stride. Maybe try it out at W/T/C next time you ride and see how well he understands it.

    I'm not sure I would intentionally spin a horse to stop. You might unintentionally train something new and unwanted into him.
        10-25-2013, 10:00 PM
    I will test out using the ORS at each gait the next time I ride him. Thank you for the advice. Spinning would be an absolute last resort. No worries. Hopefully this is a one time incident. If not, I will help the owner work with this horse till it is no longer a problem. :)
        10-25-2013, 10:10 PM
    I'm thinking it's a combination of the saddle did not fit + was too loose in addition to the initial bolt. Even with a loose girth a western saddle shouldn't be sliding around. I'm guilty of stepping off my horse at the end of a ride and seeing air between the girth and horse before.

    If the saddle doesn't fit, shoving your weight over, in addition to the possibility of throwing him off balance, pinched him somewhere, making the situation worse.

    That's what ORS's are for, getting an out of control horse back under control. However, there's more to it than the actual stop, the horse needs to be disengaging their hindquarters as they circle down so they can mentally come back to you. If they do NOT disengage behind they are still mentally and physically prepared to still bolt, rear or buck. Horses that don't disengage during a ORS are the ones that can become ones that rubber neck and are still misbehaving, just with their head to the side.

    The important thing however is to respond quickly, you need to bend the horse down gently ( not just yanking them around, that can make a horse flip ), and spiral them down to a stop.

    But yes, it does work on panicked horses, about a month ago I was riding my project mare out for the first time, all in the span of about 30 seconds, a big rig came past blowing their horn, ALL of the barn dogs and neighbor dogs starting aggressively barking at it, the horses nearby spooked and bolted in their pastures and the neighbors started a bonfire with screaming kids. Poor project mare, Cookie, lost her marbles. We went from a relaxed trot to gallop in a blink of an eye and was gearing up for a real bolt and buck. I brought my hand out to the side and I hadn't even taken the slack out of my rein to her halter and she spiraled down immediately. However, ORS's are something I school every horse I ride on and they're second nature to me. If I had been a few moments longer, I know I could of gotten her stopped but not near as quickly.
        10-25-2013, 10:45 PM
    I didn't consider saddle fit to be an issue. I will recommend having the fit checked to the horse's owner. I will for sure start practicing the ORS going forward. In my 15yrs of riding, I've only had to use it once, and am out of practice with it. I also suggested to the owner teaching the horse to halt on voice command and working on desensitizing the horse for this exact situation, just in case it were to ever happen again.
        10-25-2013, 10:56 PM
    I would have bailed as soon as I felt the saddle slip dangerously. Glad you are okay, no bruises either?

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