Originally Posted by Cielo Notturno View Post
Hi! Nice advice, I see where some of those things might be really helpful.
I tried to read all replies but there is one thing I don't think I read:
What do you do with a horse who bolts not because he's scared, but because he just wants to run?
I have an arabian gelding, and in the arena he stops the moment I think about it. Outside, not so much (that's why we don't really go outside much, and I would want to do it). How do you ride "hard and fast" a horse who's already galloping full speed? There is all sort of crap on our trails, so going blindly full speed for a long time would be extremely dangerous, and leaving the trail for uneven ground would be worse (high risk of barbed wire laying around in the tall grass).
I know you cannot solve my problems from behind a computer, I'm just interested in hearing your opinion :)
In order to enjoy riding, we must feel safe and in control. There must be mutual trust between the horse and the handler or it's really tough to have fun.
If your horse has a habit of bolting on the trail, it takes away the fun of riding outside an arena. Therefore, never let your horse go faster than you can control him. Just do walking trailrides if that is all you and your horse can handle. If you are riding with someone else who wants to canter, then put your horse to work doing something else, like small circles or halts and rein backs and side passes and let yielding as you allow forward movement along the trail, but don't canter unless you know you can control your horse's direction and speed.
When I have had horses bolt on me, I've pulled them around my leg IMMEDIATELY and worked them on small circles until I feel them soften and give slack in the reins, and then, I allow them forward, straight movement, but if the horse starts moving faster than a walk without my cue, then we do small circles until I feel that softness in the neck and body . . . and can tell that the horse has his attention on me. Do you do obstacles in the arena? That's a good place to start . . . giving your horse lots of interesting obstacles and lots of changes of speed and direction.
If my horse is not paying attention to me at the walk and is pulling on the bit and not listening to my cues, then that horse is running away in his mind. We MUST have 100% attention from the horse in order to be safe. Once a horse puts his attention on another horse or a plastic bag or a bird or the wind or grass or whatever, then I am outside my safety zone, not just for me, but for the horse, too (as you mentioned barbed wire or other harmful obstacles on the trail.) It is good if we can have safe trails, but if we can't, we must, at the least, have safe horses and safe riders who are always giving attention to one another.
Try many short walking trail rides and practice other maneuvers as you are going forward . . . and when you feel confident that you have your horse's utmost attention and can get him to respond to your cues at the walk, then try adding in some trot, but keep using the maneuvers (circles, serpentines, halts, rein backs, leg yields) while you are trotting and intersperse walking with the trotting . . . and when you feel that you have your horse's 100% attention at your trot trailrides, then do a trail ride with a short canter . . . but as SOON as you see your horse's attention leave the task and focus on some other stimuli, then slow him to trot and do some maneuvers . . . then, do another canter. Pretty soon, your horse will realize that whenever he even THINKS of taking his attention off of you, that you will put him to work.
Enjoy and be safe!