Friday, October 14, 2011

Horse Who Bolts

Tim wrote me about a bolting Mustang he has,……I am having a problem with my horse getting spooked and running with out being able to stop him. He is 8 yr old mustang and had not been ridden in several years when I got him. The lady was intimidated by him and had him because of how beautiful he is. I sent him to the trainers and he did good. I still have him in a snaffle but want to know if I should graduate him to a bosal or some thing else to keep him from bolting. I did not break this horse myself because I was told that domestic horses were different to train then mustangs.

Thanks Tim for your question. I don’t think going from a snaffle to a Hackamore (Bosal and Headstall) is going to give you more control. Probably less control. Since you are only going to pull on his nose - pressure from the Bosal is delivered to the nose via the nose band). The level of discomfort (pressure) the horse feels from the hackamore will have a lot of do with diameter and material of the bosal. A horse not ridden for several years is probably not a safe horse to ride until you have basically re-started him. Since you sent him to a trainer, you should probably see what they have to say about him,...if they encountered the same bolting problem and what bit they rode him in.

Imagine having a bit in your mouth with some rider pulling on it, get spooked, then run off, this may cause the rider to pull even harder to either hold on or to try and get you to stop. So be careful about thinking the control is in the bit. The real control is in the mind of the horse, the relationship you build with him and his resulting behavior built from that trust.

Watch him when you fit the bit to see if his demeanor changes or it appears it may be seated too deep, or too loose for that matter. I like the bars of the bit to be touching the corners of the mouth not necessarily creating a wrinkle. Check to see if your horse still has his wolf teeth in, or worst yet, non-erupted or broken wolf teeth (just below or at the gum line) that the bars of the snaffle bit may be hitting and causing discomfort.

Eight years old is still a young horse if he hasn't had a lot of rides. I would do some ground work on him and ride in a round pen. Work on lateral flexion of his head and disengaging his hind end. If he bolts in the round pen, ride it out. He may have to bolt once or twice to figure out he doesn’t have to. Brush up on your one rein stops in case he bolts when you ride him out.

Good luck to you, let me know how the your Mustang is working out for you. Safe Journey.

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