I could well be wrong here, but I think the only thing that stops a bolting horse is to get his attention back to you...
Consider this: A horse that bolts must genuinely believe it is about to get killed, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to save himself...
Grabbing the bit equally with both hands begs for the horse to grab the bit and pull harder in an emergency situation.
Pulley reins, or ORS are proven to get the horse to slow down and start to work in smaller and smaller circles because they can physically not run as hard...
The bottom line is knowing what to do to safely and quickly bring a horse under control when you are facing a potentially dangerous situation. WHATEVER technique works and WHATEVER technique the rider can use without thought - is the one you should use...
The rider is likely to do whatever they have been taught, which hopefully matches what the horse has been taught. I'm a backyard rider, not a riding instructor. Thank goodness! The riding world is glad for that! And most people, thankfully, won't experience a fear-based bolt very often. That sort of bolt is rare for most horses, and most horses don't totally lose their minds doing it. I met a lady once who gave up riding as a teen when her horse bolted, ran full speed into a fence, and killed himself. And broke a bunch of her bones and left her with an impressive scar. If a horse has truly lost its mind entirely, the best COA may be to get ready to jump off at speed - then wait to see what follows.
A couple of years ago, Trooper and Cowboy lost it while passing the flapping remains of a trampoline someone had set up in the desert. There was a narrow path around it. It was a much longer ride to turn back and take another route. My DIL & wife are not experienced riders. They were in front with the unflappable Trooper in the lead when Trooper decided it was time to get the heck out of Dodge City. When he sprinted, Cowboy joined him. Bandit wanted to join too, but Bandit & I had a lot of time together and I managed to keep him prancing past it...after a 360 spin.
But Trooper & Cowboy sprinted past. They were afraid, lost it - but lost the nerve to walk by without losing their minds entirely. So...they sprinted. Made a sharp turning climb up a steep 10' rise, got a hundred yards away, and slowed on their own. Their riders hung on, stayed on, didn't do much, and a hundred yards later it was over. Significantly, neither rider clamped down hard, started thrashing, screamed. By the time Bandit & I joined them, they were laughing. Nervously, but laughing.
Bandit is similar. Mia might have dumped 80% of her brain power when afraid, which made it more dangerous. Or did my trying to turn her around by pulling on her head
- "taking her head away" is what I was told to do - CAUSE her to dump her situational awareness
? Did trying to do an ORS make it worse instead of better?
When Bandit first arrived, his reaction was to spin and race away. That can be very dangerous. Particularly since most of his spooks took place on paved roads, except for one under a different rider where he went across three people's yards and ended up on another paved road.
Once he learned spinning violently wasn't a good answer, that I wouldn't try to force him past things, he became a lot more receptive and a lot less frightened. He had OPTIONS. A horse with options, it seems to me, is less likely to lose his mind and more likely to listen to his rider. He hasn't really bolted since learning he had options. He has sometimes moved quickly without being asked, though!
When I went to Navigator school in the Air Force an instructor quoted Daniel Boone: "No, I've never been lost. I've sometimes spent a week exploring someplace I hadn't been before, but was never lost!
" Now that Bandit and I understand each other, we don't bolt. We sometimes move quickly to a different location where we can reassess things, but we don't bolt!
If both horse and rider know and understand a ORS, then that is undoubtedly the right option for them. If a rider tried it on my horses, the rider would create a problem. I think most big name types agree that a ORS needs to be taught to a horse before one tries it for real.
A ORS is different than riding a circle until you spiral to a slower speed. No room for a big turning circle until you can do a smaller turn here. A properly taught ORS might work here, although I'd be nervous the horse might lose his footing.
I never tell someone to pull hard on both reins and give the horse something to brace against, or incentive to get the bit in his teeth! That is why I use "Bump, bump, bump
". Or as Larry Trocha puts it, "Set the wall. Release. Set the wall. Release. Set the wall. Release.
" Grabbing both reins and hauling back, then holding them back, is pretty worthless. Worse than worthless. It probably makes a bolt worse and teaches terrible habits.
No one makes
a horse stop. Only the horse's mind can tell the horse's feet to stop moving. In like manner, no one makes
a horse turn. You can pull on its head, kick with your leg, but only the horse's mind can direct his feet to perform a turn.
We can ask. We can ask forcibly. As I look back on my measly 10 years of riding, I think Denny Emerson is on to something. The more forcibly we ask, the more tension and resistance we create.
I've often said switching Mia to a curb bit was critical for teaching her not to bolt. But I also first watched the Larry Trocha video at the same time. And I wonder now if what broke Mia of her bolting habit wasn't the bit, but the less demanding approach: "Set the wall. Release. Set the wall. Release. Set the wall. Release.
" Maybe it was the advice (and mindset) to "Take her head away" that was causing the problem! Maybe I was taking her mind away at the same time!
The advice to punish her - or to "Make the wrong choice harder", which in NH seems a lot like punishing to me - was REALLY wrong. No doubt in my mind about it! The last thing a scared horse needs is for the rider to make her feel worse. Ray Hunt said, "Admire the horse for the good things he does and just kinda ignore the wrong things. First thing you know, the good things will get better and the bad things will get less.
" That has given me a lot to think about.