how to stop a runaway horse
I have been riding horses all my life. I am an experienced rider. I have been training horses for 3 years now, mostly just my own. I received a belgian/quarter horse cross about 9 months ago. He just turned 4 this year. He was 3 months into training. He was doing so well, until this saturday.
I have been riding him with a double band side pull, mostly working on collection at the trot, and stopping. He has only been cantered a hand full of times and only after he mastered the stop at a fast trot. I have good control of his hind quarters at both the trot and the canter.
This saturday, while training in a large open field, we were working on collecting his trot and stopping at the trot. This horse did not spook. Again, HE DID NOT SPOOK. He made a decision that he wanted to be home. He ran away from the other horse that my friend was riding in the field with me. I mean he galloped as fast as he could. We were over 3 miles away from home. He ran out across well traveled roads (of which i clenched my teeth every time). He ran through several empty corn fields. There was nothing i was able to do to stop this horse. He was going to take me through the swamp to go home. The only reason we didnt make it home was because at an all out gallop he made a 90 degree turn into the swamp and fell ontop of me.
Now i tried every method of stopping this horse. He knows how to tuck his rear under him and come to an immediate hault with no reins, just by simply rocking my weight to the back of the saddle. So it is not as if he did not understand the command. I also tried rocking the reins. Pulling his head around (this is where it gets interesting). I dont know if its because of his size or what, but no matter how hard i pulled or jerked on one rein, i could not get even his nose to budge. It was as if he locked his head, neck and nose in place. I even tried reaching toward his nose and grabbing the rope haulter to pull his head arround. NOTHING worked.
I could not get back up on this horse. We had been running for several minutes and i could not breath. When he fell on me it tore the rotator cuff in my shoulder and injured my knee. I know this horse will do it again, because i could not get back up on him. He now knows what to do to get someone off of him and get back home.
Please if anyone has any suggestions, please offer them up. This horse put my life in danger as well as the people driving on the roads i crossed. If i cannot fix this, I am not sure of what the outcome will be for this horse.
Wow. Well first of all, kudos for keeping your head and at least trying everything on the planet. Three questions come to mind. What bit were you using? Did he perhaps get his tongue over the bit which rendered all communication useless? Did you try the pulley rein? I've recently seen two incidents with runaway racehorses who were both successfully stopped by the pulley rein. Looks like that horse was going home no matter what. I know I wouldn't be back on.
Before anyone blasts me about flipping a horse over, the pulley rein involves burying one rein into the horses neck in a tight fist and pulling the other rein up to your shoulder. It is extremely hard on the horse's mouth, can actually cause damage, but does not overly bend the horse and is very effective. It is not the one rein stop.
Sorry you were injured. Thank goodness he fell on you somewhere that had loves of give in the ground.
I'm glad to hear that you weren't more hurt. I imagine it would have been terrifying for you going through streets and what not. Scary. =\
The first thing I think of is put a bit in. You don't need something harsh, a snaffle would do. But I have seen my fair share of horses bolting and dumping their riders in a side pull. It merely does not give you the ultimatum of controlling your horse. If the horse locks up against a side pull you are pretty much screwed. I personally do not like side pulls for any situation, I don't like how they ride. I would get a snaffle and work on bending, (or if your stuck with the side pull work on bending in that) work on turning at walk and trot.
Its not just stopping that you need to rely on its being able to get the horse to listen to you. If a horse runs of with me I first have to get the horses attention before I can give the whoa cue, because once they start running everything else goes out the window. I would start a circle, ask to move off leg anything to get the horse thinking about little ol' me on its back.
Also if possible I would work more on the canter in an arena if you have access to one. Even if the horse can stop well at a walk and trot does not mean the horse will know what to do at a canter.
I think what I would have done was whip him on the arse and make him run as absolutely fast as he could. Being half draft and half quarterhorse he wouldn't have made it very far. If the horse could run back to the barn as fast as he could from 3 miles away he would truely be a specimen. The other thing I would do is wad up that sidepull and through it in the garbage. Now that he has ran off in it he won't respect it at all. I would use a regular o-ring snaffle. Not a French link or rubber covered super wonder bit. I would want to make sure that if he ran off again I could not only get his attention but make it as uncomfortable as possible.
Wow, that sounds so scary! I've been in similar situations before and it can be terrifying.
Honestly, the first thing I would do would be to get that horse in an enclosed arena with a bit in his mouth. Even partial drafts are incredibly strong and pulling on his nose can be fruitless, as you found out. A bit will not be a miracle worker, but it is harder for a horse to resist a bit than it is to resist a sidepull.
It's also a good idea to ride him in a more enclosed area, if you have access to one. When a horse doesn't have definite boundaries it's easier for them to misbehave.
The one-rein stop is an incredible tool, but must be taught. There is another thread that was recently posted that tells exactly how to do it.
Good luck, I know from first hand experience just how hard it is to get back on after a ride like that.
Hair-raising tale! I'm glad that no one got hurt worse than you did. It could definitely have been much worse. With your injury you may not be able to do anything except ground work with him for now. I would do as much as you can, including have someone else ride him in an enclosed area, or on a lunge. Maybe the time spent reinforcing this stuff will help him to forget what he got away with.
Also, take him for walks far away from the barn. Pack a lunch and tack him all up as though you're going to ride, but don't. Walk out that 3 miles. Have lunch and walk back.
You say that it's not that he didn't understand the commands; I think at the time, he likely didn't. His mind was elsewhere and you were a non-issue. The moment he forgot about you was where the trouble started. After that, you've got to get that attention back to be able to remind him of who's up there!
I agree -- switch out the bitless for a bit. Be sure to put a curb strap on. And I also agree that you don't need a harsh bit. It's a leverage thing -- it's easier to bring the nose around than the whole head.
Practice the pullley stop at a walk, then trot then canter. I wasn't a believer in the pulley stop until I actually went out and tried it on my quiet mare first:)
I have used the one-rein stop as well, but when I use it, it's not about smaller and smaller circles, it's about stop or you're going to fall over, run into the poplar shrubs or the 8' snowbank!
Good luck and good health.
No! I would never recommend practicing the pulley rein. It's a very violent last ditch leverage maneuver done to save your butt. It's very harsh on the horse's mouth and can cause serious bar damage. Sure know how to do it and maybe practice just the movements of it, but definitely not in the actual leverage scenario it involves.
Kevin has a point in that sometimes when you can't get them to listen to "slow down!" you through "speed up " at them to break out of the log jam.
I can just imagin how strong a half Belgian's neck is and once it's on a dircect line away from the pull, no bend, not the strongest man in the world could force a bend without the help of a bit.
I am so glad you were not hurt. I would have nightmares for weeks. I don't have any real advice except to comment on Kevin's comment.
Hopefully you will find the way with him and your shoulder will come back to normal (having damaged mine, it took over a year to heal and is still occasionally painful).
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