Spooking and bolting - Page 2

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Spooking and bolting

This is a discussion on Spooking and bolting within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    07-26-2012, 12:40 AM
Originally Posted by Celeste    
I may keep my hands soft, but they are softly going to insist on the horse stopping. They may not can help getting startled. They can help running off.
I agree you need to stop them when they run off - but the idea is to not have them run off in the first place. If you tense the reins, the horse feels trapped and panics. If you provide calmness and give him half a second to work out that it's not a gremlin, he's not going to bolt. But you have to then quickly but calmly ask something else of him to get his mind back on the job. If that's a one-rein-stop then so be it. You can do that from a rein with a little slack in it (not dangling obviously).

By the way, this is the ONLY way to deal with a spook with my horse. Use your hands and he'll just throw a huge buck. I forgot my training one day, I haven't forgotten the bruises I got.
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    07-26-2012, 12:44 AM
I can just pull back and my horse will stop within a stride or two in a panic. I don't jerk her mouth. I just ask for a stop.
    07-26-2012, 12:52 AM
Originally Posted by Celeste    
I can just pull back and my horse will stop within a stride or two in a panic. I don't jerk her mouth. I just ask for a stop.
What breed, may I ask? I've had this work on some horses, mostly ponies I rode when I was a kid, but it has never worked for me on an OTTB, no matter how many years and how much retraining they have. When they panic they just go right back to their racing brain and run through the reins. The more you pull, the faster they run and the more worked up they get. If you're unlucky, they throw their head in your face. I don't really use the reins anymore when asking for a stop in normal circumstances, though - I use my seat and just close my hands, maybe 0.5cm difference on the rein, 1cm at the most. But obviously it matters what style you ride and what methods you were taught. More than one way to skin a cat, as they say
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    07-26-2012, 07:20 AM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by EvilHorseOfDoom    
What breed, may I ask?
Celeste rides a bat-poo crazy ayrab, of course!
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    07-26-2012, 07:27 AM
Originally Posted by phantomhorse13    
Celeste rides a bat-poo crazy ayrab, of course!
Fair enough, can see how it'd work on an Arab! And they're not crazy...ah, who'm I kidding? LOL
    07-26-2012, 08:23 AM
Celeste's approach works with my Dutch Warmblood. He's fairly "hot" and spooks fairly easily. Maybe 75% of the time I can tell he's in Spook County because of the way he's carrying himself, but about 25% of the time, there's no warning at all. He'll be going along in the ring at the trot or canter, next thing I know he's leaping sideways and wanting to run.

I find that if I sit VERY firmly, as if I am requesting a full stop with my seat, and take up a lot of contact with the reins - flexible contact, not making a brick wall with them - it will keep him from bolting long enough for his Thinking Circuit to kick in and stop the panic attack. Last week we were out on a trail ride with another wiggy horse, and just as we got back to the barn my horse missed his footing, spooked, and tried to bolt, at which point the other horse spooked and did bolt, dumping his rider. This set my horse off again, and I had to do the circle/single rein stop, but I was definitely keeping a lot of contact the entire way.

OP, I have not found a way to keep my horse from spooking in the first place. Plenty of times I can't ever figure out what made him spook in the first place - some tiny noise made by a chipmunk, or an unexpected stick, no telling. I try to keep him desensitized to the obvious stuff, and for the rest of it, I pay attention to his body language that tells me where his head is, and I pay attention to the environment for stuff that I know spooks him.

Sometimes if I make him focus on me by working him - lots of transitions, that kind of thing - I can get him out of Spook Country. For me, it's always worth a shot. I have also found that sometimes even that doesn't work, and then it can make the problem worse...so I'll try it a few times, and if it's not working, then I go to Plan B. Plan B could be something like getting off and lunging him, or it could be riding in the arena instead of riding on the trail, but it is NEVER getting off and letting him go back in the barn or paddock.

I saw a piece of advice above that if your horse dumps you like that, make sure that he works good and hard when he gets home - that sounds reasonable to me. Whatever else happens, he shouldn't be getting rewarded for this behavior.
    07-26-2012, 10:11 AM
Yes I ride a bat poo crazy ayrab.
    07-26-2012, 10:29 AM
We need to be careful with terms. When a horse bolts, his fear is so great he is out of control. He perceives his life being in great danger and is in total panic. These horses can have their head pulled to the riders boot and still gallop full tilt in the direction they need to go. The rider has no influence. One can only hopefully ride it out until the horse tires, or bail off. Then there are the horses that looking for any excuse to return to the barn will seemingly spook, spin around and pay little attention to the rider altho there is a modicum of control. With a horse like this I've even grabbed the bit and hauled him around. I let him think I'm going to rip his head off. This won't work with a true bolt.
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    07-26-2012, 10:49 AM

I honestly think it takes an experienced horseman to do it right. Done wrong, you can take a spooky horse and ruin them. Done right, it teaches the horse to allow the rider to determine how to proceed. But doing it right requires the trainer to read the horse's tension very quickly and accurately, which is why I'm not big on desensitizing books or videos.

The two times I've hired someone to do it, it took 4-8 weeks at 4-5 sessions a week to accomplish the goal. The 8 weeks spent on my mare included teaching her basic bit cues and yielding to pressure.

In both cases, the money spent was worth every penny. When my crazy mare now sees something that scares her, she gives a hop and then either freezes or backs up 10-15 steps and then freezes. Then I can scratch her neck, assess the situation, and decide if I want to push her forward or get off her and lead her. Either way, it beats the days of "turn & burn"!

Done right, desensitizing is not about creating a laundry list of 79 things that no longer scare your horse. The horse can always find 100 more. It is about teaching the horse to respond to 'scary things' in a way that gives the rider control over what comes next.

Also, with my mare, 'punishing' her for a bolt was counterproductive. Making her work hard after a bolt merely raised her fear and convinced her she really WAS in danger and thus that it was a good thing she ran away as fast as she did. It also taught her that her rider was an irrational being who, after she saved his life, responded by being mean. 'Making the wrong choice hard' can be good for training, but it doesn't work well when a horse is truly scared. IMHO.

Edit - just saw Saddlebag's post. Totally agree. There is a difference between a bolt (I'm terrified) and 'I'm running to a place I like better'.
    07-28-2012, 10:46 PM
Super Moderator
I am a HUGE fan of teaching a 'one rein stop' or as I have always called it 'taking a horse's head away from him' if a horse bolts, whirls around or gets out of control for any other reason.

When you teach it right, you can take a horse's head to your knee and he will instantly stop and give you his head, no matter what the circumstances are.

If you want to teach this maneuver, you have to teach it beforehand in an arena and you have to repeat it about 100 times at each gait and taking a horse's head each direction. You absolutely must teach it to a sane and quiet 'responsive' horse so the the same horse will instantly do it when he is 'reactive' and going out of control.

I absolutely works on any kind of horse under any circumstances IF IT HAS BEEN PROPERLY TAUGHT BEFORE YOU NEED IT!

I have saved an old post on how we teach it. I can re-post it if you like. We teach it a lot differently than a lot of people like the modern Clinicians. It really does work. I would not ride a difficult horse or one prone to get reactive without teaching it. I am too arthritic and crippled to fight with a horse. I need every one of them that I get on to stop and give me their heads immediately when I ask. Having it taught right to a horse is like installing an 'off button' in any horse, I do not care what his past job description was. It works with OTTBs, Arabians and bronchy QHs.

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