How to respond to a bolting horse
I owned a 600 kilo horse called Joe who was a whirler and bolter.
How does a novice rider sit a bolting horse whilst riding English style? – put simply – he doesn’t. He’ll come off every time. So the novice must be a little more careful when choosing to mount an unknown horse.
The first law for the novice must be to go to a riding centre which has a herd of Schoolmaster horses who have been carefully selected and which are regularly used for teaching novices how to ride. It will takes months of regular riding sessions for the novice to pick up how to sit properly and how to control the horse thru the seat, the legs, the hands and the voice. Some folks just never learn to ride properly. A very few folks are naturals and pick up the skills in an amazingly short space of time. But to ride any horse safely, the novice must first learn the skills.
You, by sitting a bolting horse, learned very quickly that a horse can tell the moment you sit down on his back whether you can ride or not and some horses just won’t be ridden by novices.
An experienced rider stops a bolting horse according to the terrain. You want the horse to tire – so gently turn it uphill. You need the horse to realize it has to stop so turn it towards a substantial obstacle ie a hedge, a wall . But if you are on a wide open grassland area then sit it out, and slowly but surely restrict the movement of its head and neck. Pull back on the reins but gently. Start to talk to it, calm it down. Concentrate on keeping your seat – grab a handful of mane, grab a shoe lace attached to the rings on the saddle by the wither; stroke, if you can, the horse’s neck. When you feel the horse is slowing, turn it into a circle – large at first , but steadily tighten the turn. The horse can’t gallop much more than a mile. Sit that mile out, it will take 2-3 minutes that’s all. Don’t do anything to cause the horse to lose its footing. Accept that most reasonable horses don’t bolt thru cussedness. They bolt through fear – however unreasonable.
The long term cure for bolting is to determine what was the cause of the fear in the horse.
The cure for the rider is persistent schooling ie learning how to perfect his/her seat.
A rider can't practice anti bolting techniques.
If you get a whirler and bolter so long as it doesn’t discover downward facing slopes you’ll be able to turn it through the direction of the whirl. If the horse discovers that the rider, using an English saddle on a slope will slide onto the horse’s neck then it is time to say “Good bye” to the horse.
A persistent bolting horse was much feared in days when the horse was used for transportation. They were classified as lawless. They were to be avoided even by experienced professional riders.
If you survive intact a bolt then be thankful you did not break your neck.
Barry Godden Wales UK
This is just my opinion, but I would never just "sit out" a bolter.
That bolter is going to stop, and he's going to stop now. I use the one-rein stop which, in my opinion, should be taught to every single novice rider upon starting their equestrian pursuits. Allow a bolter to simply tire teaches him nothing. It lets him know that behavior is acceptable since you did nothing to immediately correct it, and, by allowing him to stop when tired, he learns that you effectively have very little control over him because he stops whe he wants, not when you want.
I agree with Catalyst. Sitting out a bolt makes the horse in charge, they can choose where to go and when to stop. Also if they decide to stop suddenly, we can keep going.
I would much rather ask for a downward transition, if that doesn't work, one rein stop.
I can see the point of a novice rider sitting it out. They don't have the balance skills needed to stop a galloping horse by the one rein method, nor the knowledge to stop it before it starts.
The horse is going to stop/slow eventually. As long as you aren't heading toward a 4 lane highway you'll be OK.
Good reason why a novice should learn the basics before getting into that situation.
Good article :-)
Very good article, and I have to agree that if you can't shut a bolter down before it escalates, you really have no "safe" choice but to ride it down. The one rein stop is used just before the escalation otherwise you will cause a galloping horse to unbalance himself and even fall over due to the momentum.
I'm a big fan of one rein stops, but timing is key.
How to stop a bolting horse. I wrote a reply to this problem partly because I used to own a horse prone to whirling & bolting. I had intended that the article be viewed from an English style rider’s point of view. British riders are not usually taught sliding stops in any form – quite simply neither the English bridle set nor the English saddle are designed for such techniques and then there is always the risk to the check ligament. Yes, a spirited horse may be ridden restricted by leather martingales or nose bands but of all the bits available few match the severity of an American levered bit. Yet the need in Britain to control a frightened horse in the narrow country lanes and over crowded highways is much greater than in the wide open spaces of the US. In Britain the majority of horses must be rideable within the community amidst fast moving traffic. Indeed an experienced rider can hire a horse to ride in the very centre of London. A persistent runaway horse cannot be tolerated as they may maim or even kill innocent passers by. Consequently the British approach to horses is different. Persistent bolters become classified as “lawless” and are put to one side. However a severely frightened horse that gallops off through fear needs help in controlling its fear. The application of pain onto a severely frightened horse will merely reinforce the fear. Generally speaking to control a runaway the horseman can either turn or bend the neck or seek obstacles to forward movement or exhaust the horse. The over use of a harsh bit may provoke other additional forms of evasion such as rearing. The present trends in training techniques in Britain, thanks partly to the influence of Monty Roberts, concentrate more on the encouragement of the horse to comply with and trust the rider rather than to submit to and fear the hands of the rider. Barry Godden
I do a one rein stop in a Dr. Cooks bitless bridle. I agree its nearly impossible to do in a confined or narrow lane. In which case the bolting horse could do severe damage to the rider and others. I have the luxury of avoiding those areas with my young inexperienced horses. I would never get myself into a situation like that.
I'm teaching 2 three year olds to lose their fear of cows. Trust me their first instinct is to bolt. I've been checking bolts on terrified fillies for 2 weeks :lol: flaring nostrils, snorting and trembling what fun! We do it in wide open areas only.
Amazing how different riding "across the pond" appears to be. Cows are rarely a problem. Over here much hacking is done on narrow country lanes or along specified pathways which are also open to the general public. Regular obstacles to be passed by include cars, motor cycles, bicycles,tractors+/-trailers,
Overhead fly helicopters & low flying military jet aircraft, dogs lurk behind gates, lawn mowers clatter and not to be forgotten a group of donkeys graze in an adjoining field. Pigs and goats are of course the servants of Beelzebub. However nothing arouses as much fear in the rider as the distant sight along the narrow bridle path of a young mother, pushing a push chair with baby aboard holding the lease of the family pet dog. It is no wonder that the rider quivers just a bit and thereby passes his/her nervousness onto the horse. Keeping one's faithful steed calm and steady on one's ride out becomes the order of the day. On some days, that is no mean feat.
Personally, if my pony bolted on a country lane, like in the article I would do a 1 rein stop in my snaffle bridle or turn towards the hedge :lol: as long as you don't stand in your irons and heave- that doesn't work, but sit deep and do a 'huntsman' stick your legs forwards, heels down and pull hard you will stop pretty quick :-) If you are in open space just circle until it gets smaller and smaller :)
It would at least be entertaining to watch. :)
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