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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr. 21, 2007
    Location
    Taxachusetts
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    573

    Default Confidence Lost! Long!

    So, yesterday, somehow I am able to spend Thanksgiving Day alone with my faithful dog and fantastic pony...friends are jealous!
    It was a beautiful warm day here; temperatures reached into the middle 60s. I actually had to apply bug spray to the pony and the dog! I'm thinking what a great day!! So we head out. Duke, the pony tank, is feeling a bit fresh, so we go up into a canter through a couple of fields and around a Christmas tree farm. He's being great as he most always is out in the woods and fields! I decide to cross over a quite road and go into a state preserve. We've been in here a few times, but the trails aren't marked and I haven't figured most of them out yet. I've heard there is a loop so I head out to find it.
    The "problem" with my pony is that he's smart, young, extremely muscluar and doesn't always believe I'm the dominant one. So anyways, I head down this one trail that I *think* I know where it's going to come out to. Well he *thinks* he knows where it goes, too, and off he goes. We go from relaxed loopy rein walk to trot, and if I can't pull him up in that 20 seconds of trot, he's off and running. Seriously, it's so dangerous for him, me, my dog who has just been left behind and is now cyotoye bait, and anyone we should encounter on the trail. I'm able to stop him this time after about 200'. I circle him, yell at him to "knock it off" and give him a few really good whacks of the crop on his bum and it's over. I'm not afraid at this point; we continue down this trail and into the field and I ask him up into a canter and we have a nice canter. We both know this field pretty well and we are headed back towards the barn (that will be important later). Anyways, I'm curious to find the loop trail, so we circle the field and go back to the trail we had just run down. He did it again. This time I couldn't stop him for about 400'. I felt like the man from Snowy River. He's at a dead out gallop (the two hind-legged push kind) and I can't believe he's running back down the trail! I'm about to loose it, I've lost both sturrips (I wear spurs as he is usually behind my leg) and I know I'm spurring him forward with my death grip legs. Somehow I'm able to stay on and I'm able to plant both hands on one rein and pull him into some trees and he stops. Son of a b*tch! Whap, whap, whap with the whip on his bum. A few good kicks. Yell at him to "knock it off", and I put it behind me. Off to find the loop trail.
    I should give some back ground. Duke is a 5year old who didn't trust me to swat a fly off him when I got him a little more than a year ago. He came to me with zero ground manners, and didn't even know how to pick up his feet. He can be a terrible bolter in any situation. (Last winter he'd even give it a go in the indoor.) But, I learned with him I CAN'T be afraid, and when he goes I've learned my best bet (although terribly nausiating) is to keep him going and not let him stop. He is not in any kind of pain, his teeth and shoes are regularly done; he just sometimes thinks he know best and that he's in controll. He is not spooky to anything, we've even had a wild turkey take off next to us in a field and that didn't bother him...
    Okay, back to yesterday. We head down the trail on the loopy rein. We're all happy, he's realxed, ears forward...happy as a clam. Eventually,I think I'm on the loop trail, but I'm noticing the sun isn't in the right place, as in I'm not headed back to the barn. We come to a gate that says "no ATV's" and I'm pretty certain I'm in the wrong place. I check my watch and it's about 3:45 so I'm running out of sunlight. So I did what every trail rider dreads, I turn him around on the trail.
    Next thing I know, I'm in the dreaded trot, I scramble to gather my reins. Too late, I'm in the canter. I try to turn his head to circle him and I can't. The trail is a little over grown and I'm having a hard time seeing with the branches hitting my face. We are bolting (two legged push off kind again) and we're running down the trail completely out of control. Now I'm noticing what a wind-y trail this is and I can't see what's in front of us. I can also feel my right foot starting to slide a little bit through the sturrip. That has my concentration even though I am still trying to stop. We come up to a big mud pluddle, we jump it, we come to sticks and logs and we're jumping them...I'm thinking in my head, why isn't he stopping?! That is one thing I've been able to take a little comfort in as he's such a stocky muscular animal his bolts don't normally last this long. I'm yelling, Duke! Duke! But nothing! I then realize we're bolting all the way home. I find myself yelling "somebody help me!" as if anyone really could at this point. We're back now to where I know the trail again. My arms are mush, but luckily he's getting tired and I'm finally able to pull one reign away and he turns into a tree. (He doesn't actually hit the tree mind you. He never does. He has the best brakes ever when he knows the gig is up.) I jump off to beat the pony appropriately and to head back for my dog. (Plus I was scared he'd start back up and I didn't have any fight left in me.) I look at my watch, 4:10!!! He had bolted for a full out 20 minutes!!!!!!!! I yell at him, whack, whack, whack on his bum and he runs away. I yell, DUKE! Gone. I don't chase him, I head back for my dog. I found her not 5 seconds later and she stopped when she saw me, giving me a look that I realized later was probably "where's my pony brother!!!" Sunny and I start running, and I'm looking and calling all around for him. Finally, I ran into a man with two dogs who asked me if I had lost a horse. Although the helmet, boots, spurs and my crop probably gave it away, I was tempted to say "no". He told me Duke was at the end of the trail with his wife. This lovely woman had captured my pony before he crossed the road. I was so thankful for her! She held him for me as I got back on and I walked him back to the farm. I took him almost two hours to completely cool off. Despite my grrrr feelings for him I turned him out afterwards so he could keep his muscles from locking up and I gave him a little banamine with a bran slurry.
    I'm a little cut up, bruised, sore, scraped and lost the sturrip pad on the right side, but my inability to stop him bothers me/hurts the most.
    All I've been thinking about since then is how am I going to fix this? He goes in a full cheek snaffle with one of those lozenge middles. Recently I took the flash off of his bridle (that's going back on today). And I would like to try a different bit. Any suggestions? I was thinking something with razor wire... Also, he would do this with another horse in his presence. If he is second he will push past the first horse. If he is first, he'll just leave. How do I handle this in the woods? If we were in a field we'd just keep circling that field until he didn't want to run anymore and I'd keep him going. Being on this trail, I can't do that. It's not an open safe trail to do that on.
    I'm going back out there today. I'm riding back to that gate and turning around. He will NOT do it twice!! Although, just incase, I'm wearing my chest/back protector today.
    I'm sorry this is sooo long, but I had to paint the full picture. We've come so far in the past year together that I don't want this to be a set back. I may sound brave, but I so don't want to go back out there, but I have to.
    Help!!!!
    I posted this on the "Off course" form, too, but I think it's more appropriate here.
    __________________



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar. 12, 2006
    Posts
    2,097

    Default

    Oh my gosh!!!! What a scary ride. I'm so glad you are okay.

    I have a horse that is a bolter too. It has taken me many years to get control of it. Whats worse is that he's been to the trainers twice and always works well for him. It's when I have him alone on a trail that he will "bug out" on me. I don't think getting your horse stopped and then spanking him is the answer. The only way I have been able to get my horses' mind back is by countless hours in the arena working on him giving ME his mind. Now when he starts to tense before bolting I'm capable of asking him for submission to the rein and seat aids and he will obey.

    It has been a long road for us. And it was something that he and I needed to work out because he totally disrepected my aids. I hate riding in the arena, but that was a safe place for me to get through to him just what I was asking him for on the trails.

    Good luck. Be safe.



  3. #3
    hansel21 Guest

    Smile Advice

    Hi,

    I have one word for you..............Parelli.

    Unfortunately, the 'problems' you are experiencing are your horses lack of trust in your leadership. I know, I been there! Log onto www.parelli.com - click on the 'problems' pages, the Parelli team explains why these problems occur and how you can steps to rectify them without force or anger. It is the BEST thing you can do for your horse and you obviously love your horse enough to spend all that time writing your post. Give the program a try, you have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain. It will give you a whole new relationship with your horse and it's easy!

    Also, you do NOT HAVE to go back out there, that is the fastest way to lose all your confidence. There are so many ways you can achieve a better relationship with your horse before you even get on their back. The Parelli program will be there for you every step of the way, it is not rocket science, but it will give you results, I promise.

    Hannah



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2000
    Posts
    1,089

    Default

    It sounds like you need some riding lessons with a good instructor pronto and go back to basics- learning your aids, how to half halt, and stay in control.

    I also wouldnt be riding a horse that tends to run away with a snaffle. Seriously dangerous.

    I know people in your situation who have done the Parelli thing and it just made their situation worse.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    May. 5, 2006
    Posts
    2,823

    Default How Scary!

    I have had a horse bolt with me on a trail and there is no way to really describe just how scary it is.
    I agree with gestalt. It probably isn't a good idea to get him stopped and then spank him. You are basically punishing him for stopping. Nor would I take him back out on the trail until this problem has been totally addressed in a safer environment. I think you said he has bolted with you in the arena? Start there, where you are a little more protected. I would hate to see him bolt with you out into the road. It sounds like a whole lot of ground work is in order!
    I would find a local trainer to work with. Two heads are better than one, provided the trainer has some skill.
    Good luck and stay safe!
    Sheilah in Idaho



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 7, 2006
    Location
    on and off the bit
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    3,908

    Default

    I agree with IdahoRider, saratoga, and Gestalt. Sounds like you and Duke definitely need some arena time, schooling time, time to put you back in charge of your rides.
    I also agree that you don't have to go back out on that trail with him, certainly not 'til you have achieved what Gestalt said, "get his mind back" to you. Certainly whipping him AFTER he's stopped is just teaching him that whipping is his punishment for stopping.
    And I DO NOT think that ANY sort of wire bit is the answer!

    I wouldn't touch Parelli with a 10-foot carrot stick!

    I would also add, why in the world did you buy such a pony tank?, but you posted about what to do WITH him, not how to be WITHOUT him, so I will just repeat that I agree with IdahoRider, saratoga, and Gestalt.
    Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
    People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
    "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr. 21, 2007
    Location
    Taxachusetts
    Posts
    573

    Default

    Thanks everyone! I do agree that I shouldn't have spanken him after the third bolt and my feet were safely on the ground. That was pretty stupid on my part. I was only kidding about the razor wire bit, too! Don't worry, I don't like wire bits; I'm going to try him in a pelham and hope he doesn't get too curled up on me.
    It's weird with Duke, that he looks at each situation differently. For instance I can lunge him before riding, and he'll be a perfect gentleman. I'll hop on, loose his attention and poof, he'll be gone.
    I should also say we've worked really, really hard with a great eventing pro and occasionally with a dressage pro and this has helped immmensely. His bolting is really quite rare at this point, which is why three on the same day caught me off guard.
    I did get him back out today, too. The temperature dropped about 30 degrees overnight and it was windy so I didn't go out for long, plus I figured he was probably as sore as I was. He was great. But, I wasn't. If he'd had gone for a run, I probably would have puked!
    I am going to take it easy for a little while and stick to the ring. We just hit a little snaffu...not a bad time of year to be stuck in the ring either! It's getting cold out there!!



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep. 17, 2003
    Location
    Fort Myers, Florida
    Posts
    2,667

    Default

    Hmmm...training yes..but then afterwards when its just you and him again I would think a bit with some stop to it is more appropriate...now before I get totally egged....a run a way horse is dangerous!!! If you don't have the time or energy to get him to respect you..then have equipment he WILL respect!! IMO a snaffle is never appropriate for the unknown of riding out in the woods alone.

    Hang in there!!
    "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 7, 2006
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    on and off the bit
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    Default

    Birdsong--

    I like your signature line. That version is my favorite!
    Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
    People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
    "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 12, 2005
    Location
    Spotsylvania, VA
    Posts
    173

    Default Go ahead and slime me but...

    HappyHoppingHaffy, I share your frustration. I bought a known bolter 6 years ago and I broke bones within one week. Thanks to some very wise trainers in the area, I have my confidence back and we ride on trails alone all the time. My mare wears a kk-ultra snaffle and I do not carry a whip or use spurs - there is no need for artificial aids. How was this achieved? It was achieved the long, slow, and yes, boring way - a strict return to basics for both of us. Lots of ground work, lots of arena work. Lungeing, dressage and arena trail under experienced instructors. All three of these disciplines encourage a responsive horse and a thinking rider.

    I disagree with some of the posters who suggest a stronger bit. No bit will stop a horse who has not learned to accept the bit. Take off the spurs and put away the crop. You do not need either if you give clear aids and your horse has been taught to respond to the aid appropriately. This is not a quick fix - it will take months of consistent retraining for both of you but it is worth every minute and every dollar to achieve a true partnership.

    KarenRO



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun. 29, 2005
    Posts
    465

    Default

    I agree with Gestalt and the others. Spanking the horse when he stops -- even once -- is punishing him for stopping. He will NEVER learn to associate the spanking with anything other than what happened immediately before the spanking (that is, stopping). Horses simply don't think that way.

    Another vote for arena work to build your and Pony's confidence in each other.
    Training and campaigning Barb endurance horses at The Barb Wire.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2004
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
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    Default

    Wow, what a terrifying ride! How in the world did you manage to stay on a 20 minute bolt! Is he truly a pony? Because they can be strong and strong minded.

    I sometimes feel that all the ring work in the world, teaching half-halts, halting, may *sound* like the answer. But in reality the trails are totally different than in the ring. Not saying these are not the answer. But many horses just forget their training manners on the open trail. Seeing open space and just want to go.

    When I first got my pony (yes, a real pony) she was ridden in an Eggbutt snaffle although I ride Western.
    One day at a calm walk I don't know if a bug bit her, or something I didn't see startled her. We went from a walk to gallop in 2 seconds. And the darn little thing didn't even stay on the trail -She ran through the woods.
    Even just that 20-30 seconds were scary enough.

    I switched her to a Combination bit and it did wonders. I ride on a draped rein anyway, so the only time I have to use it is when she get rambunctious. The nose piece keeps her nose down, not up in the air, where there is not much control, and I do like the idea of a shanked bit on the trails. Not to yank on, or course, but for that added security.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2000
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    1,089

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KarenRO View Post
    I disagree with some of the posters who suggest a stronger bit. No bit will stop a horse who has not learned to accept the bit. Take off the spurs and put away the crop. You do not need either if you give clear aids and your horse has been taught to respond to the aid appropriately. This is not a quick fix - it will take months of consistent retraining for both of you but it is worth every minute and every dollar to achieve a true partnership.
    KarenRO
    My horses are extremely well trained and I believe I am a very skilled rider, but I don't like using snaffles or halters on the trail, especially duirng an endurance ride or cross country gallop or anything involving speed and adrenaline. I see a lot of people with snaffles who are actually in a constant tug of war with their horse and they dont even realize it- they think because they have a "snaffle" that they are being gentle and kind.

    I like to use a bit or hackamore that enables me to have a gentle and effective half halt when needed. The vast majority of the time my horses pay perfect attention to me and they know what is expected of them, but once in awhile they get headstrong and want to do what they want to do. Also, the ocassional spook or "bolt" may happen if something really scary happens. You can definitely stop a bolting horse a whole lot easier with say a pelham than a halter. I am certainly not advocating using a humongous bit instead of training, because absolutely, learning how to ride comes first but IMO using an appropriate bit that the horse responds well to is part of the package.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug. 12, 2005
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    Spotsylvania, VA
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    Default

    There is a well-known endurance trainer, whose name escapes me at the moment, who is a firm believer in arena work. I need to find her website as she has an excellent article on retraining a horse that is very similar to the one that the OP described. This trainer points out that if the horse is not responsive in the arena and cannot manage walk-trot-canter with smooth transitions, there is no way the horse will listen to you on the trail. I agree that just spending time doing half-halts, one-rein stops, etc. is not productive. A complete return to basics is required, which, I admit, a lot of people do not want to do because it takes so long! KarenRO



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2004
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    Connecticut
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    Default

    Totally agree about having the fundamentals down before venturing out.
    But, I boarded at a barn with many "push button" Western Pleasure/English Pleasures horses. These guys were a angel in the arena.

    Unfortunately, the owners could not take them out on the trails because the horses became holy terrors... spooking, bucking, basically out of control. I agree about what others are saying, but when it comes to the wild open with monsters around every corner. I rather have a *good* bit, (not harsh) just for safety's sake.

    Because a nice lope in the ring could turn into a yippee hand gallop on the trail for your horse.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 12, 2005
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    Spotsylvania, VA
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    173

    Default

    Huntertwo,

    I know exactly what type of horse you are talking about. LOL I too boarded at a show barn with horses that appeared to have a 'whatever' attitude in the arena but turned into raving lunatics on the trail. This was mainly due to the fact that the owners were very nervous about being outside the arena and you know that tension translated loud and clear to the horse! Yet another reason to cross-train horse and rider so you have a confident and prepared team. Cross-training does not mean that an accident can't happen but I think you can decrease the risk. KarenRO



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2006
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    1,830

    Default

    I think the Parelli suggestion was a near miss at a good idae. I wouldn't recommend Parelli in its current form, as people seem to have trouble wading through all the games and getting to a useful goal. However, it might be worth hooking up with a good natural horsemanship trainer of a more practical school--someone who follows a program more like John Lyons, Julie Goodnight, Chris Cox, or even Clinton Anderson in his quieter moments.

    It seems like most natural horsemanship trainers spend a fair amount of time working on respect--never a bad idea. They also tend to be really into one rein stops. Since you are having problems with your brakes, getting good at one rein stops is probably a really good idea for you.

    There are two troubles with using a bigger badder bit: 1) If that's the only tool you are using to fix your stopping problem, eventually the horse is just going to learn to blow through increasingly harsh bits. Where do you go when the horse is blowing through bicycle chain bits? 2) When an emotionally overwrought horse is stopped from going forward, it has a tendency to go up instead: it bucks or rears. It's less able to go up if you get it going into a circle (ie use a one rein stop.)

    Ultimately, you have to know how to recognize naughtiness and get the horse under control before you ever lose control in the first place. That's where a good trainer come in. Forget about pretty equitation for shows--you want a trainer who will teach you how to tell when your horse is about to be a dink and what to do about it then and there.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct. 20, 2001
    Location
    San Jose, CA
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    1,107

    Default

    You've gotten lots of good advice already. One thing I'd like to add is that you should stop riding him on a loose rein out on the trails. The problem is that he decides he is in charge of the ride and starts to GO. You need to be in charge 100% of the time. With some horses you can be on the buckle and be in charge and other horse not so much. Your pony doesn't seem to have earned the right to a loose rein on the trails.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr. 21, 2007
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    Taxachusetts
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    573

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Huntertwo View Post
    Wow, what a terrifying ride! How in the world did you manage to stay on a 20 minute bolt! Is he truly a pony? Because they can be strong and strong minded.

    I sometimes feel that all the ring work in the world, teaching half-halts, halting, may *sound* like the answer. But in reality the trails are totally different than in the ring. Not saying these are not the answer. But many horses just forget their training manners on the open trail. Seeing open space and just want to go.

    When I first got my pony (yes, a real pony) she was ridden in an Eggbutt snaffle although I ride Western.
    One day at a calm walk I don't know if a bug bit her, or something I didn't see startled her. We went from a walk to gallop in 2 seconds. And the darn little thing didn't even stay on the trail -She ran through the woods.
    Even just that 20-30 seconds were scary enough.

    I switched her to a Combination bit and it did wonders. I ride on a draped rein anyway, so the only time I have to use it is when she get rambunctious. The nose piece keeps her nose down, not up in the air, where there is not much control, and I do like the idea of a shanked bit on the trails. Not to yank on, or course, but for that added security.
    He is truly a pony! He is a Haflinger, however, and I think sometimes its forgotten that Haffy's were the war horse of the Austrian army in WWI and WWII. He is a Tank. All muscle.
    I *knew* he wouldn't venture off the trail and into worse trouble than we we're already in, but I *knew* he would stay the trail we had come down.
    It was the most horrible bolt from the horse I've probably felt the most close to. Before this ride I had taken a sort of comfort that he is built like a plough horse so his bolts would never last that long. Their is something to be said about getting a horse in really great condition!!
    I am going to do more ring work with him, although we both kindof don't like it that much! We're going to get back to the basics with more *sigh* dressage work.
    I really appreciate you're very kind and helpful comments! I also posted this for helpful suggestions on the "off course" board and I'm pretty certain I'll be under aspca investigation pretty soon.
    Thank you for understanding!!!



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2004
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    Connecticut
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    Default

    I was reading it on the "Off Course" board. This why I always say I like the Trail/Endurance folks.



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