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  1. #1

    Default Help with horse that bolts at turnout

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a horse that bolts at turn out? I feel like I have tried everything and its not improving much at all.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2005


    Will the horse eat treats? I have taught all my horses to wait when being turned out by feeding them treats. I walk into the pasture close gate. I face the horse out into the pasture. Treat, pat maybe another treat. Lead rope around the horses neck, another treat. Slide halter off holding the lead rope around the neck,another treat. Pat, pat, another treat, then let end of lead rope that is not attached to halter go and another treat. Then gradually slide the rope off horse another treat. If at any time the horse tries to pull away they get a sharp no and maybe a jerk of lead rope. My horse waits until I tell her to go. I usually give her a pat on the neck and say ok, go on now.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct. 28, 2007


    Like symbolism, treats to teach them to stay. A neck lead rope is great, quick release.
    I have been known to turn them around, and while holding the line I get on the other side of the fence and release him over the fence. That works well in a large field with lots of horses where you can't control the behavior of others.
    I really find large herds in large fields give me the heebee jeevies, so much herd interaction, it's like grand central station when the trains have been delayed and one comes in - stampede for the train and everyone for themselves.
    Sorry, I've been commuting too many years *bleh*

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 26, 2005
    Back to Normal.. or as close as I'll ever get


    More info please.
    Does the horse bolt as you approach the field?
    Inside the gate?
    When you remove halter or lead?

    For any of these behaviors my GoTo is to reverse the process. Takes time, but eventually horse gets the idea. Unless standing quietly, turnout does not happen.
    Bolt as we approach the field?
    Nope - turn around & back to barn for another try at a civilized approach.
    Bolt when inside the gate?
    Nope again - take horse back out and try again.
    Bolt as halter or lead come off?
    Again: horse has to stand quietly as lead is unclipped (if you leave halter on) or halter throat is released (if you don't leave on) or removal stops & out back again. Keep your finger on the lead snap or halter clip until you get a quiet horse - takes some practice but it can be done.

    I assume you can feel horse tense to bolt before horse actually leaves town?
    This is when you have to act.

    In addition horse must turn to face you before being released, still standing quiet or we just leave the field. B'bye T/O until horse can behave.

    No shanking, yanking or otherwise "punishing" - just a quiet response to the attempted bolt ending in "No T/O for You!".
    You become the Turnout Nazi

    If you can set aside an afternoon for this training I'm betting you will end up with a better-behaved horse.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009
    Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 4, 2009


    Ummm, I have one, he was rather famous for it. would jerk from his very experianced groom @ a well know training center and be loose for days...

    When retired from racing he then would do it on the H/J farm where he lived.

    It stopped after many diffrent tricks when a chain over the gums was employed and a back up lunge line snubbed over a post if he bolted on release the back up snagged him.
    No he never got his neck hurt and he was smart enough to figure out better to stand and wait in case there was a "suprise" waiting.

    Umm the no turn out thingy yeah...horses lack the abilitey to reason unlike a human.
    They get away with it, its successful they are big and can do it.
    My former famous "Clicker" trained horse was perhaps the worse for the "Oh no" back in you go for acting up on way to turn-out. He was trained by the authers of the Clicker movement.
    He certainly learned real fast w/ a chain and "No". rather than a click or back to his stall to stay in.

    Don't let yourself get hurt by this bad behavior, or a horse get loose and hurt themselves.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 1, 2002


    Do you leave his halter on and he bolts when you undo his leadrope?

    One of the stallions at the barn used to do that, he'd fling his head and rear up then kick and buck away so he could go sniff some pee.

    I attached a second leadrope to his halter with a chain over his nose. Then I unclipped the first leadrope and he wrenched away from me, hit the chain, went up and sideways, and had a tantrum. I stood there quietly and acted like I had no idea what happened. He was pissed but after a few rounds he'd stay nicely until you patted his neck.

    If you don't leave his halter on put a second halter on under his first one and do the same thing. If you step behind their shoulder when you take the first halter off you have the benefit of a lot of leverage.

    I actually had a lot of luck with another stallion who'd rear on his way to turnout by putting a chain over his nose and carrying a stick. He went all the way up and I beat the ever loving snot out of him and put him back in his stall. I think it took about 20 minutes to turn him out but once he got it I could lead him out on a string.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2001
    Lexington, KY--GO BIG BLUE!!


    Agree with treats and a double lead rope, and probably a chain. And a lungeline, as Judy mentioned, can also be helpful. I've had to snub a 17h WB to a tree after his rider repeatedly let him rip away from her when turning out. First time Mr. WB ripped away from me, he hit 15' of lungeline and stopped dead in his tracks. Instant attitude adjustment. For horses who rip away after you take halters off, double up the halters.

    For most horses, it can be prevented. Whenever you first notice a horse getting tense and excited about turnout, make him be patient. Stand at the gate and "snap snap snap" the leadrope snap. Rub the horse's face and ears before you take his halter off. Walk through the gate, back out, back in, until the horse is bored and not charging through the gate.
    “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
    ? Albert Einstein


  8. #8
    Join Date
    May. 23, 2007
    Southern Indiana


    Treats. Find one he likes, make sure he knows you have it before you even take him out of his stall.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar. 23, 2006
    New York State


    I dealt with this years ago when a groom. I agree that the "second halter surprise" works wonders.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2011


    I knew a stallion that did this...he was off the track and HUGE and the old track owners just let him take off. A double chained lead rope soon as he tried to take off once the first one got unhooked he got slammed by the second chain/lead rope. After not too long he was able to go back to a single non-chain lead rope just fine.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov. 15, 2006
    Lexington, Kentucky


    Treats worked like a charm for my tough ones.
    We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr. 8, 2004
    The Great, uh, Green (?!?!) North!


    My mare tried out this when she was about four. I'd turn her out with a cookie in one hand, and a lunge whip in the other. She much prefers cookies over a smack in the butt so the lesson sank in pretty quickly
    "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2009


    Agreed with treats. My preference is for something with a wrapper to crinkle to remind him I have it

    My horse developed the same nasty habit at one of myriad goofy places I boarded him in college - the place where when the weather was nice, they'd stay out/not come in even for meals; when the fields were wet/muddy, they often wouldn't go out for a week. I think he got crazy because of the erratic schedule. And I'm 99% sure the problem was aggravated by the *cowboy* who worked there who decided, unbeknownst to me, to "fix" it by tying him to a fence post. That was 10 years ago and it never quite went away. (I had him since he was 3 and until then it hadn't been a problem.)

    Now he stands with or without treats. On a "bad" day he takes off - after the halter is off. (He's also on a VERY regular schedule now, which I think really helps!)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr. 30, 2002
    Looking up


    Ha ha ha ha on the guys who have horses that "bolt" and the treats actually do not have a real bolter! I had a big ol' race stallion who was too big for a warmblood trailer he was so big, and he could take the treat AND rip your arm off in the nanosecond it took for him to get through the gate. That's funny. I could put the treat in my hand next to my side and he'd get it and THEN bolt...he was good. Two chains, two halters, and even use at twitch sometimes on the really bad ones, where you have a small gate opening or something and you have to shoe horn them into a safe area before letting go. And I've let bolters drag the chain and lead from the halter and step on it all afternoon, too, just to give them a sore nose and a little more respect. It's just something horses do that are somewhat claustrophic, I guess. It's funny they don't seem to have the same trouble walking into doorways or aisles, just turnout. That's funny about the clicker training too, I know one that was clicker trained and owner bragged it would walk right on horse trailer with clicker...yeah...two hours later, they called me, I came over with a driving whip and a broom and he walked right on in about 20 seconds with one swat. We wrote "Clicker Trainer" on the broom handle and I think it's still on there.... ahh, funny horse stories!
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan. 29, 2008
    The South, but not far enough



    Holding lead rope around the neck while undoing the halter...check.

    Using 2 halters and lead ropes...check.

    These can all be effective, depending on the degree of misbehaviour.

    One thing I might add is to stand at the horse's side, like when putting on the bridle. More than once I have discovered barn workers releasing my mare while facing her, by reaching over her head to pull the halter off, down and over her ears (obviously, not with a throat latch fastened). Inevitably, she would snap her head up and back, which would ignite a spin and bolt. When I showed them to work from the side, it was much more effective.

    It's a pet peeve of mine because I spent a lot of time fixing the issue years ago, and I hate to see the effort undone. Now she's 24yo, and she unquestionably knows better, but she still has to test the boundaries occasionally. Oh, heck, NO! Though I must admit I chuckle to myself "Silly Thoroughbred!"
    No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle.
    -- Winston Churchill

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 2010


    You can try putting the treats in a dish and take the halter off when the horse is eating and back away so you are not so close.

    This, of course, after you have worked on impeccable manners walking to the gate, through it and turning around.

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