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So my horse is 18 years old, had him since he was 13 and he has always had a habit of getting carried away and cantering off on exciting hacks.

On a hack with friends he decided to go backwards, after seeing how far the other horse had gotten in front he bolted into gallop and I was completely unable to control him, we eventually stopped when he reached the horses bottom and had no way to get around. Recently he's done the same thing, normally this problem has been him getting carried away with other horses but this time I took him to an open field by himself, as I asked for canter he entered the transition perfectly and was so calm and collected however when I asked for trot he went faster until he was in a gallop. I was so scared as I couldn't even slow him down a little bit and with every attempt to slow him down he just went faster.
Eventually, scared for myself as I worried we were going to eventually go on the rode I jumped off. Luckily I landed on some overgrowth and only bruised my finger, I know it could have been a lot worse but I was too frightened to stay on him and after riding for twelve years it was the first time I had ever been so scared. I didn't get straight back on and do it again like I normally do and now as a result, every time we're in a large space and I ask for trot and I can feel him get faster, I panic jut because I'm scared to be in that same situation. I've lost my confidence so badly and have never been so nervous to do anything fast. He's a good horse who is sensible on the road, doesn't spook at anything and is a perfect hack out cob it's just our problems always arise when I ask for a faster pace such as canter, he normally gets carried away when we go out with other horses on fast hacks but on our hacks alone he is usually a lot more sensible.
He has been lame recently so has been out of work and now he's just getting back to being fit and well so I can ride him, I hadn't realised how much confidence I had lost until now and wondered if anyone had any advice perhaps on his bolting and how I could manage this or how I rebuild my confidence in the most effective way?
 

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When you bailed, did your horse immediately stop or keep going? If he did the first thing, he was not truly bolting and just being a dope. It's completely fixable. I'll save writing a book until I know which he did.
 
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When you bailed, did your horse immediately stop or keep going? If he did the first thing, he was not truly bolting and just being a dope. It's completely fixable. I'll save writing a book until I know which he did.
He did the first. I'm feeling a bit more relieved knowing that!
 

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Yeah, he was just being a goofball. It's fixable. You might have put your lost confidence on the back burner to fix it, but you can do it. I dealt with this same nonsense with my OTTB when he was younger and still do apparently when it's a beautiful 75 degree day. First things first. You need to establish brakes. You won't have to use them much once he knows you have them. What I'm going to suggest is kind of a hybrid version of the one rein stop. It's a very powerful tool since they know darn well you can stop them whenever you want. In the safety of a ring, teach him the one rein stop at W/T/C. Obviously start at the walk. Without using any leg pressure, let one rein go slack and pick up the other one. Smoothly bring it toward your hip until your horse stops moving. If he is just learning it, he will most likely walk around in a few circles until he stops. Do it until he stops the second he feels you pick up the rein. If he's a TB, it won't take long. QH's tend to be a little thicker about it. I don't know about the other breeds. Once he's got it at walk, do it at trot and then canter. By the time you get to canter, he will understand the cue so well, he will stop as soon as he realizes what you are going to do.

So now you have brakes. Time to take it on the road. Go out into that field and do the exercise again at all 3 gaits. If he starts to get ****y, you need to stay calm, sit tall and complete the task at hand. Even if he spins around for 20 minutes, don't let go of that rein until he stops. Then reward him and tell him what a rock star he is. Try to end things on a good note. It can be as simple as trot a few steps and stop, as long as you end on a positive note.

In the case that he does get away from you again, try not to panic. They can't run forever. Sit tall, make sure to follow his motion with your elbows so you don't pick a bigger fight and try to keep him on a large circle until he either runs out of steam or decides to listen to you. Once you get him back to you, pretend it never happened and go on with your practice.

Why I call it a hybrid one rein stop is, the true one rein stop is where you pull the head all the way to his side. It is only for use at the walk/trot and used to prevent a bolt or otherwise naughty behavior. You cannot use it at speed or you risk throwing the horse off balance. Once your horse knows it, what you're using is a more refined version of the stop. He stays relatively straight since he stops before you've pulled on the rein much at all, so it can be used at the faster gaits. I've used it tons of times. It's amazing how effective it is.
 

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Yeah, he was just being a goofball. It's fixable. You might have put your lost confidence on the back burner to fix it, but you can do it. I dealt with this same nonsense with my OTTB when he was younger and still do apparently when it's a beautiful 75 degree day. First things first. You need to establish brakes. You won't have to use them much once he knows you have them. What I'm going to suggest is kind of a hybrid version of the one rein stop. It's a very powerful tool since they know darn well you can stop them whenever you want. In the safety of a ring, teach him the one rein stop at W/T/C. Obviously start at the walk. Without using any leg pressure, let one rein go slack and pick up the other one. Smoothly bring it toward your hip until your horse stops moving. If he is just learning it, he will most likely walk around in a few circles until he stops. Do it until he stops the second he feels you pick up the rein. If he's a TB, it won't take long. QH's tend to be a little thicker about it. I don't know about the other breeds. Once he's got it at walk, do it at trot and then canter. By the time you get to canter, he will understand the cue so well, he will stop as soon as he realizes what you are going to do.

So now you have brakes. Time to take it on the road. Go out into that field and do the exercise again at all 3 gaits. If he starts to get ****y, you need to stay calm, sit tall and complete the task at hand. Even if he spins around for 20 minutes, don't let go of that rein until he stops. Then reward him and tell him what a rock star he is. Try to end things on a good note. It can be as simple as trot a few steps and stop, as long as you end on a positive note.

In the case that he does get away from you again, try not to panic. They can't run forever. Sit tall, make sure to follow his motion with your elbows so you don't pick a bigger fight and try to keep him on a large circle until he either runs out of steam or decides to listen to you. Once you get him back to you, pretend it never happened and go on with your practice.

Why I call it a hybrid one rein stop is, the true one rein stop is where you pull the head all the way to his side. It is only for use at the walk/trot and used to prevent a bolt or otherwise naughty behavior. You cannot use it at speed or you risk throwing the horse off balance. Once your horse knows it, what you're using is a more refined version of the stop. He stays relatively straight since he stops before you've pulled on the rein much at all, so it can be used at the faster gaits. I've used it tons of times. It's amazing how effective it is.

Brilliant, thank you so much! I've never been taught the one rein stop method so thank you for telling me how to do it, will have to start training asap! Again thank you for this advice :)
 

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You need to learn the one rein stop. Thus will help you, but is only really useful if you use it BEFORE the horse bolts off. You use thus when you fee
The horse is starting to THINK about bolting. You get his head and his mind and disengage his "motor". (His hind legs), and then start again. You do thus every time he starts to leave you mentally and become too agitated and ready to bolt.

Sit up tall when you do it, and don't try to do this if the horse us already going faster than a trot.
 

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Well said by MyBoyPuck. If I may be so bold as to add to the statement: When making contact with whichever rein you're going to use for your one way stop, you do have to shorten the rein so you will need to slide your hand down (or forward, if you prefer, as the horse does need to get some bend in order to follow his nose to a stop) on the rein then start the move to your hip -- you'll get the feel for it as soon as you try it a couple of times. Of course, practise the stop on both sides of the horse equally and if one side is coming up stiffer, add more time to that one. If you are using the stop at the canter, use the rein on the leading leg -- eg cantering on left lead, take left rein to hip. Also, as Puck mentioned, it doesn't work so well at speed because of balance issues but you can add spiraling inward circles to regain control and slow him down to the point where he breaks gait down to a trot and then you can kick in with the one rein stop.

I must say a well practised one rein stop does look good -- very smooth and effortless with both rider and horse maintaining an almost casual look about them during the execution of the movement.

Best of luck with it.
 

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Was this horse ever on the race track? If so sometimes these horses get the notion in their head that they're back on the track and desire to run their race.
 

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I'm really interested in what kind of bit this horse is in! Episodes like that make me really look at potentially better (kinder, more effective, different action) bits. We and friends have rehabbed a fair few off-track "uncontrollables" and finding the right bit is part of the equation. Snaffles aren't always ideal bits, nor are they always kind, so I'm a big fan of trying mild curb bits, at least on trails, for nose-poking "I'm off" types - safer, kinder, plus horse yields jaw and this discourages headless flight. And obviously: Dressage, dressage, dressage in the arena until horse and you are communicating very effectively.
 

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A one rein stopped is a learned behavior, just as a two rein stop is. If you train for a good 2 rein stop, then you'll correct much of the problem. That means starting over and training good stops at a walk - good stops, where the horse makes a good faith effort at stopping and then stands still. When the stops are good at a walk, then start working on them at a trot. When you have a lot of good faith effort stops given easily at a trot, go up to a canter.

If your horse gets too excited and is refusing to stop, you can try a pulley rein stop:


Here is a video on working with a horse to get good stops:


An option that I think is gentler than using a pulley rein as a back up is to teach the horse how to ride in a curb bit. I'm fond of Billy Allen curbs, which are western. English riders also have some options for curb bits. Ridden without contact, they are pretty gentle. Again, you need to teach the horse to stop in one starting by standing beside the horse, then at a walk, then at a trot, etc.

The advantage to going to a curb is that when a horse sticks its nose out, it can avoid most of the pressure from a snaffle - so it doesn't need to seek release. The snaffle is pulled back against the molars where it does no good. Worse, it can catch the horse's cheek between the bit and the teeth, causing pain, injuring the horse, and making the horse want to run harder.

With a curb, the pressure continues against the bars and the tongue until the rider decides to release pressure. If taught to a horse from the ground first, then in small steps of additional speed - so the horse knows what to expect - they can be a useful tool in stopping a horse who wants to ignore his snaffle.

If you are a western rider, I'd consider trying a simple curb like the one below. If you are an English rider and like to ride with constant contact, then you might want to stick with a snaffle.



If you do decide to try a curb, I recommend this video from a fellow forum member on how they work and how to transition a horse:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTyM22UU6CY&list=UUU7PYYaPkTOE2D5kF7OxdRA
 

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Very informative post with great points!

A couple of things I ruminated on:

With a curb, the pressure continues against the bars and the tongue until the rider decides to release pressure.
Or the horse yields its jaw, the process of which itself usually reduces its speed if going fast (as horses at full tilt extend head and neck to balance).


If taught to a horse from the ground first, then in small steps of additional speed - so the horse knows what to expect - they can be a useful tool in stopping a horse who wants to ignore his snaffle.
And arena practice before trails, as usual. Re ignoring snaffle: I think from the horse's perspective, it's just trying to reduce pressure, and often, get the heck out of whatever scary situation by running, as per evolutionary programme. The snaffle is probably worse than bitless for aborting a bolt because of its mode of action, as you described. The curb requires the opposite action - tucking in the head and neck - to reduce the pressure - and this is more conducive to slowing down.

Also, properly fitted curb bits reduce shock to the jaw compared to snaffles. They do this by spreading the action produced by the reins over a greater surface area (bit and curb chain instead of just bit) and making the action gradual through time (because the lever takes time to turn before the curb chain engages and the bit presses against the bars of the mouth). This allows the horse to respond to the gentle beginning of the aid by immediately yielding its jaw, and slowing down as taught (and it must be taught, whatever system is used), before the pressure increases further.


If you are a western rider, I'd consider trying a simple curb like the one below. If you are an English rider and like to ride with constant contact, then you might want to stick with a snaffle.
I'm an English rider, and can suggest several curb options for contact riding. There is of course the double bridle, as used in dressage, which gives you the best of both worlds. ;-) However, if you want to go simpler, and to only have one piece of metal clutter your horse's mouth, then either a port-mouthed or mullen-mouthed (never a jointed) pelham is a good compromise. I would suggest riding that bit with double reins so the bit vs curb action can be separated as needed - it's not that complicated riding with double reins, even on a trail. If you prefer riding with one rein, then I don't suggest a pelham. A port-mouthed or mullen-mouthed (never jointed - combining joints with curbs creates a terrible nutcracker, not a mild bit, and pain should be avoided in good horse training - it's communication that is required) Spanish snaffle with slotted D-rings and the rein in the lower slot is a good option, and most horses I've tried it on (but not all) prefer it to a jointed snaffle (as judged by the uptake when bridling, and happy calm demeanour when riding), as it is a nice, mild, comfortable bit when it suits a horse.

Contact should be very light, of course - it's often overdone, whatever the bit, and this overdoing results in so-called hard-mouthed horses (AKA long-suffering creatures who have come to see discomfort and pain as "normal").
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm really interested in what kind of bit this horse is in! Episodes like that make me really look at potentially better (kinder, more effective, different action) bits. We and friends have rehabbed a fair few off-track "uncontrollables" and finding the right bit is part of the equation. Snaffles aren't always ideal bits, nor are they always kind, so I'm a big fan of trying mild curb bits, at least on trails, for nose-poking "I'm off" types - safer, kinder, plus horse yields jaw and this discourages headless flight. And obviously: Dressage, dressage, dressage in the arena until horse and you are communicating very effectively.
He was in a plastic snaffle when he decided to go off. Thank you for your advice, I'll try a trial on one of those bits and see if it helps :)
 

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Well said by MyBoyPuck. If I may be so bold as to add to the statement: When making contact with whichever rein you're going to use for your one way stop, you do have to shorten the rein so you will need to slide your hand down (or forward, if you prefer, as the horse does need to get some bend in order to follow his nose to a stop) on the rein then start the move to your hip -- you'll get the feel for it as soon as you try it a couple of times. Of course, practise the stop on both sides of the horse equally and if one side is coming up stiffer, add more time to that one. If you are using the stop at the canter, use the rein on the leading leg -- eg cantering on left lead, take left rein to hip. Also, as Puck mentioned, it doesn't work so well at speed because of balance issues but you can add spiraling inward circles to regain control and slow him down to the point where he breaks gait down to a trot and then you can kick in with the one rein stop.

I must say a well practised one rein stop does look good -- very smooth and effortless with both rider and horse maintaining an almost casual look about them during the execution of the movement.

Best of luck with it.
Thanks for your advice! So if he galloped off again and I didn't do the one reign stop early enough, would it not be the recommended thing to do in that pace?
 

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You need to learn the one rein stop. Thus will help you, but is only really useful if you use it BEFORE the horse bolts off. You use thus when you fee
The horse is starting to THINK about bolting. You get his head and his mind and disengage his "motor". (His hind legs), and then start again. You do thus every time he starts to leave you mentally and become too agitated and ready to bolt.

Sit up tall when you do it, and don't try to do this if the horse us already going faster than a trot.
Thank you!
 

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You're most welcome! Best of luck and let us know what works for you and what doesn't, so we can learn from your experience as well! :)
 

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Thanks for your advice! So if he galloped off again and I didn't do the one reign stop early enough, would it not be the recommended thing to do in that pace?
You would not do the one rein stop when he's galloping on because of the likelihood of throwing himself because of the balance thing. If you were real quick in your reactions you could catch him within a couple of strides using the one way. However, I suspect that if you missed the opportunity to stop him before he took off again, you likely missed this opportunity as well so it's better to be safe.

So, under those circumstances and depending on the terrain, you could realistically do one of two things: If there is space, start circling - big ones to start with and gradually make them smaller; if there is no space to do a large circle (say going down a road with bush/fences on other side so no turning room), then it's on to the pulley system that bsms (I think that was who mentioned) discussed.

I have used the pulley system in the past and it does get the job done. If I had any choice in the matter, I would only use this on a schooled horse. I say this because, by my way of thinking, from a psychological standpoint the horse may find this "confining". Therefore, hopefully, a schooled horse will recognize its intent as a cease and desist order but the green horse may see it only as further evidence that his world is collapsing around him and it's fight or flight time.
 

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Thanks for your advice! So if he galloped off again and I didn't do the one reign stop early enough, would it not be the recommended thing to do in that pace?
One rein stop is for prevention. Don't use it as speed. Don't give him the chance to misbehave in an open field until you have taught this to him. Once he's learned it, you won't need the true one rein stop. It will more like putting him into shoulder-fore, very subtle. It's like saying to him, "look I can keep you from being dead straight by making this tiny adjustment but keep it up and I'll go for the whole thing". Haven't met a horse yet that says, "prove it".
 

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The one rein stop needs to be taught from the ground first. The goal is to get the horse to unlock at the poll, soften and learn to go as the hand directs it. Only when the horse will readily flex side to side on the ground should it be done from the saddle. When first mounted, that is the time to flex the neck. Do this half a dozen times on each side before moving forward. Then ask for him to come part way to get him to keep his focus on what your hands are asking. The moment he seems intent on something else where, begin the flexing again. Do all of the above daily for a min of 5 days before asking for a trot while riding. You can get him to the point that he'll soften as soon as you tickle the rein with your pinky. This work should be done in a regular snaffle, preferably a loose ring with an iron mouth. It's of medium thickness which most horses seem to find comfortable.
 

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Porgiie, I thought of you today as my naughty horse took off with me across a field when I asked for what I assumed would be a nice forward canter. I wasn't expecting him to grab the bit and run, so way too late to enact a full one rein stop. A few things come to mind that might help you.

First, initially just sit square and stay a calm as your horse sails across the open land. Not like you can do squat about it anyway at that point. This is a situation where you just have to patiently for your moment of opportunity. For me it was that we were running out of field and he only had the option of turning right or smashing into the trees in front of him. (that's ultimately the difference between a naughty horse and a bolting one, naughty horse will turn and bolting horse is not thinking about squat and will run into the trees) Anyway, I knew he had to make the turn, so I made sure I was balanced properly for the turn and quickly executed my stop. I wish I had video of it because it is hard to describe. All I have to do is displace one shoulder by bringing the rein on that side out from his neck while keeping the other one at his neck. There's no intentional bend, but the rein position alone puts the horse in a form of shoulder-fore and he cannot keep going at speed in that position. When you feel your horse sort of buck with his shoulders, you're in business. Just hold that position until he's slow enough to do a full one rein stop. Then go find a nice safe place and put his butt to work so he knows that was a bad idea. Hope you're having success with your guy. You can beat it! I am proof!
 
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