Spooky bolting horse help please! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 05-13-2013, 06:29 AM Thread Starter
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Spooky bolting horse help please!

I bought a shire x cleveland bay mare. Had her about 3 months now. Shes just turned 7. She was backed at 5 proffesionally as her previous owner was a complete novice. She is an amazing horse on the ground. Has manners like no other slightly jumpy but never bolts when leading. In nov last year her previous owner was riding and a lorry came too close behind her. Foxy (my horse) bolted and her owner came off. I bought her in feb and she hadnt been ridden since the accident. I spent a month getting to know her on the ground grooming, scratching, lungeing leaning over her and long reining to which she is a super star and will walk on trott canter and stand just by body language BUT..... When i went to sit on her ( which i did slowly and calmly with my other half holding the lead rein she bolted when my leg went over her back. I flew off. I then got in touch with her trainer who said she was an amazing horse once he had finished working with her and told me what he did. I followed his instruction amd managed to get on her. She accepted me and i had a couple of nice calm walk trott rides in the school. Then i got on her for the 5th time she was fine walked to the school being lead then as i had been walked around on her on my own. She bolted again this time i stayed on but she lapped the school many many times bucking leaping amd turning sharply. Snorting all the way. I couldnt stop her so finally when she did stop i stood waited for her to slow her breathing blink and chew then asked for a walk. The rest of the 10 min ride was fine and relaxed. I have no idea what spooks her. So my question is. How do i go about avoiding that initial spooky bolt and get her moving calmly forward. I have no problem with a horse jumping at silly things. I can handle that but dont want her to consistantly bolt every time i ride. I have since gone back to more in hand and long reining activities like walking over tarpauling, walking her through 2 barrels close together, weaving in and out of things and also short in hand walks out. Would really appreciate some in put as she has soo much potential.
Thanks. X
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post #2 of 9 Old 05-13-2013, 07:51 AM
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Welcome to the Horse Forum.

I am sorry that you have inherited such a major problem. It is simply now a 'learned behavior'. Horses are 'creatures of Habit' and this is the reality of her learned behavior which is now her 'habit'. Once a horse gets spoiled like this, they must be re-schooled to give up the behavior and replace it with re-learning to once again, respond properly to the reins and legs of a rider. There is always a REASON they initially acted the way they did. But, the rider or the circumstances caused this REASON to become an EXCUSE. Then, what you have is a badly spoiled horse that thinks this is the way they should behave. Many horses will fight tooth and nail to hang on to this bad behavior.

You can do ground work for 5 years and when she is ridden, she will immediately bolt the first time she encounters whatever she has learned to bolt from. Since re-training a badly spoiled horse is far out of your skill level, is there any chance you can get her original trainer to take her back and do the schooling?

I have re-trained many run-aways and bolters over the years and different things have worked best on different horses.

Sometimes I could start them in a 60 X 60 foot square pen where they had no where to go and I could direct them into a corner each time they tried to leap into a run. Then, I spent a good deal of time teaching them to 'give me their heads' (similar to a 'one rein stop') and got them very obedient to my reins and I taught to accept my legs. I did 'leg yielding' exercises, taught them to disengage their hind quarters and to stop and back up very responsively. Then, I taught them to NOT react to me waving my arms, slapping my leg, waving the reins around, patting their butts and reaching over and patting their shoulders. Through all of this, I found what excuses they were using to decide to bolt.

Then, I roe them in a little larger area. Some had learned to respond well enough that they no longer bolted and others just let out the first time they thought they could. They had only learned that they could not run off in a small area.

Others, I have used a good 'pony horse' to 'snub' them to. That takes two very experienced riders using a stock saddle and a very broke horse -- probably not something you have available to you in the UK.

There are several way to re-school a bolter, but none of them is suitable to a novice rider. This is a spoiled horse problem that requires a high level of skill and comes with a high degree of risk.

In all honestly, she is probably not worth the trouble and the risk to an inexperienced person and would make a stellar driving horse. She could be come a VERY NICE driving horse and, if started in harness correctly by someone that was prepared for her propensity to bolt, she would have a lot more value and a lot less danger would be involved. Most teamsters would opt to break her to drive in a team paired with a very solid older horse that would prevent her from learning to bolt in harness.

One thing is sure; She is so big, that she will have to be 'taught' to behave correctly because no one will ever be able to over-power her.

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post #3 of 9 Old 05-13-2013, 08:03 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for that. I am an experienced rider. Have backed many horses and worked horses through bad habbits just need some excersises that i can do. She was great before the accident with her novice previous owner. I need some pointers on how to stop her bolting. And to change her mind set.
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post #4 of 9 Old 05-13-2013, 08:06 AM
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If she does this again and you ride it out, don't let her stop. She quit because she was pooped and this is when you want to make her work. Work her until she feels like she's dragging an anchor and her breathing is heavy and make her sweat. What you want her to learn is that her outbursts result in hard work. When you ride don't follow the rail but rather do small circles, serpentines, mix it up so her body is always bent. When a horse is bent into an arc, one hind leg is stepping under and in front of the other which makes it much more difficult to bolt. I suspect this is a learned behaviour, something she tried and got away with. She is not allowed to make any decisions, such as when she stopped after her tantrum.
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post #5 of 9 Old 05-13-2013, 08:40 PM
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Make it not worth it. When I re-school a spooker I make the spooking more work than doing what the horse is asked. I make it much easier and much more pleasant to stay soft that is is to act like a nutjob. Get a good helmet and be careful.

Do you have someone that can lunge you? That helps too. I have two spookers in training right now and we are at the stage that they are being lunged with a rider.
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post #6 of 9 Old 05-14-2013, 10:34 AM
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Any advice for rehabing a "spin and bucker"? My horse is with an excellent trainer right now, but I'm still interested in the subject. He would "look" in the distance for his "excuse" so if I kept him rounded down and curved to one side or the other he wouldn't try it, and small circles and figure 8s would further discourage him if he was really planning something, but he would still occasionally, when he was being good and I'd let my guard down slightly, surprise me a quick spin and buck for no reason (except rebellion). He is not "spooky". I don't want to have to ride him bent around my inside leg 100% of the time. I'm hopeful the trainer he's with now will sort things out but I'lll take all the advice I can get anyway.
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post #7 of 9 Old 05-14-2013, 03:20 PM
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spin her around. working with ottb's, I find getting them turning well, flexible, and accustomed to a one rein stop works wonders. they try to bolt, they get spun around. If her bucking/bolting is fear based, which it was, initially, but a horse that's allowed to repeat fear based reactions can sometimes make the connection, using the action as a demonstration of disrespect.( for example, I had a mare that was spooked and bucked, catching me unawares and throwing me. the next time she was in a bad mood she bucked me off, and so on.) If it is still a fear based reaction, Clinton Anderson did an interesting video with a fear bucker. he had the owner thoroughly sack out the horse, flopping all over, sliding off, etc, to the point where the horse was bored, and just stood relaxed the whole time. After the fear was taken out of having a rider moving around on it back, most of the problems were resolved.

I would get her very accustomed to having her stand there while you jump on and off, flop around, slide off, etc.

then i would work on bending, flexing and a one rein stop. I like cheries idea of doing all this in a small pen.
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post #8 of 9 Old 05-14-2013, 03:51 PM
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I cannot give you better advice than Cherie, who has loads more experience than me. Forgive me but you're not that experienced if you cannot identify this unfortunately very common problem. That's a big, HEAVY, powerful horse that you bought, and you bought trouble. (You tipped me off by using the words, "super-star" and "amazing" while describing an obviously dangerous horse.)
I advise that you PM Cherie and consider a trainer who knows how to turn this horse around. You may not have one near you, and need to rehome this horse.
A more experienced horseman might have called this horse "nice on the ground." Most of us like to live through the training process.
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post #9 of 9 Old 05-14-2013, 04:04 PM
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When horses work for a living they learn to not waste a single ounce of energy. Most horses that are being ridden today don't work for a living, thus they have plenty of energy to think up ways to test the rider. If your horse isn't puffing and hasn't worked up a good sweat then you're just toying around with him. There's a story of a young lad who was given a young stallion that wanted to kill whoever went near it. The crazy kid managed to get on him in his stall, his sis opened the door and away they went on a dead run and covered a distance of over 30 mi. The horse learned right quick to conserve energy and offered no trouble after that.
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