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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2009
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    Question Controlling the bolt

    My horse is pretty green and I've only had him since the summer. He is five years old and w/t/c but he was never worked during the winter before. Sometimes he's extra "fresh" and bolts before I even put him to work. I'll get on, walk a lap or two and he'll perk his head up and I can feel his body tense up like he's looking at something or excited. Out of nowhere he'll break out into a gallop across the arena, and when there are horses working around us, he runs to them. I know this is VERY dangerous and while I'm working on teaching him how to lunge I was wondering if there are any other suggestions that I could try. He doesn't buck when he bolts, but he sticks his head way up in the air so I have very little contact which is also threatening my confidence on him. I'm currently without a trainer.



  2. #2
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    Dec. 22, 2008
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    I would start using a one rein stop. When he bolts, pull his nose right to your boot and put a halt to it.

    Are you tensing up when you feel him get tense and he's going to bolt? Your post sounds like you can feel it coming, so when he gets like that he needs to work immediately, get his mind off bolting. If he's sticking his head way up, pick your hands up to meet him....don't allow him to evade the bit, my horse does this too when he gets looky, and what works for us is raising my hands up and driving him into the bit with my seat.

    Is there anyone else that can ride him for you to see if he does it to them as well? Obviously you'd need to tell them of his tendency and want someone that is experienced, but he could just be doing it with you now that he knows he can get away with it.

    Have you ever ridden him in a running martingale? Sounds like it may be useful in this situation since he's throwing his head up to avoid the bit and take off. If you use one, you can use it only when needed, and it'll help prevent you from getting knocked in the face with his head one of these days.

    Bolting is very unnerving and I can see why it's killing your confidence...good luck, keep us posted!



  3. #3
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    Jun. 30, 2009
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    Ohio
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    Thanks for your encouragement Riley0522

    Ah, yes I almost forgot the one-rein stop. Thank you for your martingale suggestion, too. I have a standing martingale but I worry that if he can't get his head high, he'll resort to digging it into the ground and find bucking just as fun. A running martingale sounds like it'd work better than a standing.

    I have a few good friends that might be willing to help me, thanks for the suggestion!



  4. #4
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    Aug. 16, 2009
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    Put him to work the second you get on him. No mosey-ing around. If he needs some easy going walk warm up time, then handwalk him or lunge him for a few minutes. But the minute you get in that saddle, he needs to know it's time to work. The second you feel his body tense, wrap his nose around your leg on a circle until he settles down. Then take a deep breath, pat him and let him carry on. Soon he'll learn that tensing/bolting means a lot more work and he'll give up.

    You may want to try around with different bits to see if one has a little more 'bite' when you need it, but is fairly soft otherwise.

    I'm not a huge fan of running martingales, but for horses that like to give you a punch in the face with their neck, I like to use a standing.

    For the wintertime, you may want to try him on a calming supplement, like Magnesium, just to keep his brain between his ears. I've seen great things with the Dynamite calming supplement.

    Be safe. Good luck!



  5. #5
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    Sep. 20, 2005
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    You could also try a pulley rein. Plant one hand on his withers and jerk up sharply with the other hand. If you're doing it correctly, he should stop immediately, so be prepared for him to slam on the brakes.

    To stop the behavior before it even happens, I'd make him work. As soon as you feel him start to tense up, push him into the bridle and make him trot forward. If you put him to work before he can misbehave, you can probably avoid the whole issue.
    "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
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  6. #6
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    Aug. 13, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaturdayNightLive View Post
    You could also try a pulley rein. Plant one hand on his withers and jerk up sharply with the other hand. If you're doing it correctly, he should stop immediately, so be prepared for him to slam on the brakes.

    To stop the behavior before it even happens, I'd make him work. As soon as you feel him start to tense up, push him into the bridle and make him trot forward. If you put him to work before he can misbehave, you can probably avoid the whole issue.
    I agree.
    I used to ride a green Welsh pony that like to play games to get out of working. If he didn't feel like listening to the rider, he'd fake spook and bolt. After a few times with me riding him, and doing a pulley rein to shut down his bolting, he realized he couldn't play those games and he stopped. What I do with nervy/spooky/get out of work type horses is make warm up interesting and give them something to think about. Don't just go lap after lap around the arena. Make him bend off your leg, do circles, serpentines, etc.; basically anything to make it interesting for him so he'll want to listen and not ignore you.



  7. #7
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    FWIW, I've seen one rein stops/pulley reins cause rearing in some horses...so I'd use that as a last resort if possible. Not saying there is not a time and place for it, but it's not for every horse. Really depends on the individual and his or her propensity toward rearing.

    When I have one that comes out just FRESH like this, I either longe, or, if that is not an option, I will put the horse to work right away under saddle. Something to engage the mind...lots of circles, changes of direction, serpentines, going over poles on the ground etc. at a walk. Work on bending, and keeping the mind engaged. On occasion, I will also start one out at a trot pretty much right away, but usually only if the walking exercises are not enough to keep the horse on task. The dual benefit to doing engaged work like this right away is that it occupies the horse's mind AND your mind so that you are not worrying about whether or not the horse is going to bolt.



  8. #8
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    Feb. 14, 2000
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    One thing to remember with the one-rein or pulley - don't waterski. He's stronger than you are, so if you don't stop the bolt before it starts, apply the rein and then soften for an instant. Much more effective than just pulling, once they've got the bit.

    Best to do something to get his attention (like circling) the instant he tenses, though.



  9. #9
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    Jul. 10, 2008
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    Also effective if you can stomach it is to keep him running far beyond the time when he wants to stop. Though usually when it happens your instinct is to get them to stop so it is hard to change your reaction to kick and keep going past their "friends" and continue to ride the snot out of them so they realize their idea was a bad one.



  10. #10
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    If he is truly bolting, there is nothing you can do to "control" it. Montana used to have a nasty bolt, and no amount of pulley rein/one rein stop in the world could stop him once he got going - he once bolted from a one rein stop/halt. If he's just running away with you or tuning you out and not truly bolting, then a one rein stop or pulley rein usually shuts them down pretty quickly. With Montana, the "gallop him until he's begging to stop" method worked best for convincing him that bolting was not an appropriate response to scary objects and open fields. It's hard to do and scary at first, but it does work.

    You can, as other posters have said, keep him too busy to run over to his friends. The key is to keep his behavior from escalating from "fresh" to "out of control".


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  11. #11
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    Boy hes got your number down!!!! Instead of using all those stupid tie downs, and yes the one rein stop does work as well as the pully rein, HOWEVER he has a respect issue more then anything. I'd suggest getting someone more expierenced to get on him and break him of that habit.



  12. #12
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    Jan. 27, 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by EquineRider View Post
    I'll get on, walk a lap or two and he'll perk his head up and I can feel his body tense up like he's looking at something or excited. Out of nowhere
    It's not out of nowhere...you just ignored the signs.

    The second he perks his head up and tenses his body, put him to work. HARD work...not just a nice easy trot. Don't hope he's not going to misbehave. Be proactive and put him to work before he has a chance.

    I prefer the pulley rein, myself. You can't "waterski" if you're doing it correctly. One had buried knuckel first in the neck...the other comes back and up, hard and fast. You're using the horse's leverage against him because the rein your pulling turns the head against the rein that is buried in the neck.
    Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
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  13. #13
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    Apr. 5, 2004
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    My horse has been bolting recently due to lack of an eye. He's learning to cope with "life" (horses coming up behind him indoors, snow falling off the roof, a car starting outside, etc).

    He has a very soft mouth, so I didn't want to mess that up, but I did need some leverage for stopping, so I went with the relatively mild low-port Mikmar short-shank, which has the double rein for "some" emergency leverage but high port/long shank.

    So far it's BEAUTIFUL. Just lovely. If you keep your hands nice and soft, my guy goes very politely and round, chewing on the bit. When it's a three-alarm spook (he's 5 strides out before I gather my reins) all it takes is a couple of quick "PULL RELEASE PULL" moments and he's back again. We're working on desensitization bit-by-bit (and overall he's wonderful!), but since he can't lunge in both directions right now I sort of just rely on turnout and "calm" working conditions.

    Good luck with your horse.
    A quick tutorial on interval training: Conditioning your horse for eventing



  14. #14
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    WW queen I've had two hroses with one eye and they lunge both directions, jump, and event all though they are always a bit spooky on the blind side so don't worry.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donkey View Post
    Also effective if you can stomach it is to keep him running far beyond the time when he wants to stop. Though usually when it happens your instinct is to get them to stop so it is hard to change your reaction to kick and keep going past their "friends" and continue to ride the snot out of them so they realize their idea was a bad one.
    Agreed x1000.

    If making the horse work doesn't cut it (which it doesn't for my seventeen year old bucker/bolter [and when i make him do walk work, rearer ]) then just kicking him with a spur and some good rein contact will muscle him into a good run - call it a human longe line. Be mentally prepared though, you must end it on your own terms, it's a battle that you have to win or he will continue bolting when ever he does so please.



  16. #16
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    Dec. 25, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by EquineRider View Post
    My horse is pretty green and I've only had him since the summer. He is five years old and w/t/c but he was never worked during the winter before. Sometimes he's extra "fresh" and bolts before I even put him to work. I'll get on, walk a lap or two and he'll perk his head up and I can feel his body tense up like he's looking at something or excited. Out of nowhere he'll break out into a gallop across the arena, and when there are horses working around us, he runs to them. I know this is VERY dangerous and while I'm working on teaching him how to lunge I was wondering if there are any other suggestions that I could try. He doesn't buck when he bolts, but he sticks his head way up in the air so I have very little contact which is also threatening my confidence on him. I'm currently without a trainer.
    I see that you are in OH, parts of which are not known for a balmy winter.

    So a couple of questions:

    How much did you actually ride him this past summer? Quite a bit? If so, did he show any tendency to bolt?

    If he did not bolt during the summer at all and if you actually spent a lot of time on him this summer, then it is not a nut case but rather a case of feeling too good.

    If he did it in hot weather, you need to ask yourself whether he is a nut case and worth it.

    Assuming he was OK during the warmer weather, the next question should be: Is he confined to a stall during the cold months? Can ge get 24 hour turnout?

    I know that some would protest that 24 hour turnout during OH winter is mean, but it is not. If you have not clipped him and if you put the right kind of blanket on him, he can stay out so long as he has access to water, a lot of hay and something to stand behind when there is a high wind.

    If the turnout area is too exposed to wind, bring him in only on the truly fierce nights.

    NO GRAIN.

    A horse must have hay. A horse wants grain. Like the difference between vegetables and chocolate to a baby.

    If he is not a nut case and is doing it only because he is feeling too good, the easy way is to make him feel less "up".

    Do put a standing martingale on him. Learn how to adjust it.

    It should be adjusted so the martingale strap will just barely touch the throat latch when the horses head is in the normal position. Not one bit longer and not one bit shorter.

    You say you can feel it coming on.

    That indicates to me that he is not a nut case and that he is just too "up" from feed and weather.

    As others have said, you must make him tired. Some horses get hotter as they get more fit, so working him hard and making him fit could become self defeating, but you have no choice.

    I am not a proponent of trying to run it out of a horse, if that means wide open race track speeds. Too dangerous.

    But putting him in what I call an Amish buggy horse trot as long as you can stand it and following that with a nice hand gallop until he is blown out is a good way, but remember that he may just get more fit and tuned up even more.

    There is such a thing as too much horse for the rider and that can happen even to the best rider, so it is not an insult.

    But take all grain away and turn him out. I would suggest turning him out for two weeks so he will get the grain out of his system before you ride him again.

    Unless you are an experienced rider at working with a green horse, pay someone else to ride him for a few days and get an appraisal of the horse and his potential value to you.

    But wait until you have turned him out for a couple of weeks.

    My opinion.

    Worth exactly what it has cost you.

    Good luck.


    I meant to add that when you feel him getting ready to bolt, you make the first move. Take hold of the bit in a very authoritative manner. Let him know you are boss. Vibrate the bit enough to tell him you mean business.

    Then turn him away from the other horses. If they are to the left, turn him to the right and keep going in a very small circle, maybe only 10 or 12' in dia. until he learns you are not going to allow him to take over. Then move on as you were.
    CSSJR
    Last edited by cssutton; Jan. 7, 2010 at 10:42 AM. Reason: Additional comment


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  17. #17
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    The one rein stop is magical BUT you need to teach the horse about it before he bolts, because otherwise it can be dangerous. Remember that what you are doing is disengaging his hind end, not just whipping his nose to your foot.

    Start at the halt. Bring his nose to your foot and hold it until he relaxes. Once he masters that, then try it at a walk. Then try it at a trot, etc. It will take some time to get him familiar enough with it to make it a useful training aid.

    I use it mostly as a time out when my horse isn't paying attention and I want him to focus. In your case I would do it as soon as I felt the horse start to tense up.

    The beauty of it is when they know what it's all about you generally only need to raise your inside hand and they slow down.

    Good luck!
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
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  18. #18
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    If I felt a hrose "tensing up" and knew he would bolt, we would do the one rein stop RIGHT THAT MINUTE, don't wait til it escalates into bolting! Youa re getting the warning and doing nothing about it. If you were to "nip it in the bud" before the bolt he would stop doing it. When I get on a young or fresh horse, I first ask them, at a halt, to give their head to one rein all the way around to my toe. I do this both ways a few times. This gets their focus on me and on giving me "their face". Then we walk and do some halts, one reins stops IF they aren't paying attention, some leg yielding at the walk etc. Things to get them THINKING right off the bat. Also if a horse is young and fresh, they get lunged prior to riding. NOT tearing around on the lunge, but proper lunging, with side reins and asked to walk.trot.canter, do transitions etc to get their brain on WORK prior to getting on.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by EquineRider View Post
    My horse is pretty green and I've only had him since the summer. He is five years old and w/t/c but he was never worked during the winter before. Sometimes he's extra "fresh" and bolts before I even put him to work. I'll get on, walk a lap or two and he'll perk his head up and I can feel his body tense up like he's looking at something or excited. Out of nowhere he'll break out into a gallop across the arena, and when there are horses working around us, he runs to them. I know this is VERY dangerous and while I'm working on teaching him how to lunge I was wondering if there are any other suggestions that I could try. He doesn't buck when he bolts, but he sticks his head way up in the air so I have very little contact which is also threatening my confidence on him. I'm currently without a trainer.
    hes sharpe horse so with sharp horses you need to get them to listen to you
    one rein wont do it, always, what you need to do is work him on his own and send him into gallop down the long side of the ring via kick and click method keeping your hands light and yyour leg soft, then stop prase him and repeat do this until he goes of the tweak of your heal, then bring him back and school him via lenghten and shortening his strides using the hh in every transition

    go here to for helpful tips http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=178116
    obviously the horse doesnt know hh so start off in walk and go down gears to halt there is nowhere to go but stop then once mastered down gears go up gears and o on till you mix all gears up and down using the hh

    try not to ride with other and dont allow your horse to run up there bums hes not bolting hes scooting or what we call here napping so turn a cirlce away from the one in front and continue to work him in trot

    in other words dont let him antispate your moves and have the advantage do the oppositie to what he wants then your in control of him

    if you want him to listen then ride him better dont allow him to take you as in an open field you will have no control

    also agree with take away all grain and just feed hay ffor now until you can master him

    and whilse of the feed learn about feed and feeding and read the back of the packets when ready and if no energy the feed on a simple thats low in energy and trial and error till you have a happy medium



  20. #20
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    Make sure if you lunge that you do so with a chain and in an enclosed space. If they run off under tack they will do so on the line.

    Under tack if you can feel it coming then you have a chance to turn the horse in a circle at the current gait. If he does get away from you, it's important not to panic. Look where you are going, have a plan for pulling him up, and ride the path and the plan until you are able to stop him. I just continue until mine will let me circle and bring him back to a reasonable speed, as an abrupt halt does encourage him to stand up.



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