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Hello all,

a comment on a different thread made me wonder: what should you do when your horse spooks and darts forward on a trail (or actually, anywhere). Not a proper bolt (yet). I have sat two of these leaps in a week on two different horses, and yesterday watched a very relaxed-looking horse getting caught off guard by a cross-country skier approaching from behind, and leaping forward as if he had been bitten on the bum, with his rider pulling the reins (I guess instinctively), trying to stay on. The horse spun around and faced the skier and then calmed down. Technically: sit deep, don’t lean forward, don’t panic, pull reins or not?, let the horse turn around as he wishes, even if he backs up (assuming he won’t fall off a cliff), maybe tell him it’s going to be okay?
 

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Keep riding. Regain balance if required, then assess. I've had pretty good success with a horse doing a 180 degree turn by pulling hard to keep the turn going for a full 360. But that assumes I'm not struggling just to stay on first. As for position...if I'm on a horse who I expect to do something squirrelly in the near future, I try to pretend I'm riding a cutting horse (love this video!):

 

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there is not a thing you can do to prevent this sort of reaction from happening from time to time. pulling the reins is probably mostly instinctual, meaning even if you'd rather not do it, you may not be able to stop yourself from grabbing up the reins. the best thing is to not make a big fuss. Laughing is one of the best waays to rid oneself of remaining tension.
 
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