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Old 05-19-2007, 10:54 PM  
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Runaway horse, what to do in a situation like that?

Today was the first time in my life that I have ever been scared less in all my years of riding. I had a horse take ahold of the bit and GO!

The semi-short version...this was the horse I posted about last fall - He was doing great, w/t/c, stopping, backing, doing everything we asked. Then, as we all know if you've ever worked with babies, you know how they like to hog the rail...they feel secure and eventually they get over it. Well, some "hot shot know it all" was 'going to show him' and just ran him right down the drain. She slammed him into the arena walls, laced him with the whip when he'd get close the wall, and just down right terrified him. (I was yelling at her to stop it, get off, stop and she would not listen to me. That was her last time ever in the barn!!! and this was after only 1 time of her riding him!!) After her "wonderful" work, it took me 6 weeks of just walking to get that horse to go around the ring at a walk. Sometimes it would take and hour just to make it around the ring without being lathered and turning white. Ask him to trot, he coudn't handle it. He would spin, jump through the air and shake. I didn't know where to go from there.

Sent him to a trainer in IL who works with problem horses. Horse was there for 3 months. (Jan-April) I would go to ride him and he'd have his moments, but there was an improvement. When he's good, he's great and when he's bad, he's awful. At least we were trotting (willingly) and not nearly as nervous anymore.

At home, he has his very good days, then his days where we are leaping through the air, flying sideways, and then poof, we're back to trotting like nothing ever happened. Then somedays, he'll come out and do his job like he should.

This horse was very light in the bridle when we took him there, not anymore. I'm not heavy handed, I can't stand horses with hard mouths, and this sucker is like pulling on a brick wall when he grabs the bit. You have no control. I've never had a horse like this before. (I'm used to light mouths!) The thing is though, when you're trotting, you don't even need to touch his mouth. He sets his head, and marches right down the rail. It seems as if when he gets silly/nervous, the head goes up or he'll take his head and yank it up or down and forward, and then when you try to snatch the reins to stop it, he just goes and the more you try to stop him, the faster he starts going!

When he took off on me today, I sat deep, took ahold, said whoa, sternly said whoa, yelled whoa and then thought oh I'm screwed!!!!! He took off at a gallop around the 1/4 mile track 4 times and each time he was picking up speed. I stood up to try and get some leverage, I pulled released, pulled, released, snatched the bridle, tried to turn his head from side to side, but I knew I couldn't run him into the fence, because we'd end up going right through it. A circle was out of the question, as he probably would have lost his footing and went down. There were a couple people there, they jumped in the ring, and we're trying to grab him as I was going by, trying to jump in front of him to stop him, he didn't care. I though about bailing off, but at the speed I was going, I figured he'd probably trample me and he's almost 17 hands, and that was too far down. I think he finally stopped when someone got right infront of him...I honestly don't remember.

After I took a deep breath I worked him hard. It was hot today and he trotted for the next 30 mintues straight. Man was I pooped. And he doesn't get light pidly workouts when he's worked, he's worked hard because the longer he goes the better he gets. Of course there are days when he'll be great and then we work lighter but that's not very often!!

What is the right thing to do when this happens? Is this something that I'm always going to have to worry about with him and what can I do now? I bit and long line him and he never does this while doing that.

He has 5 months to shape up or it's off to KY to the sale.
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Old 05-19-2007, 11:09 PM  
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I can tell that this horse is getting on your nerves. Mabe you need to use a harder bit. When your in the round pen have the saddle and bridle on him and it's easy if your riding wetern just put the reins over the horn but english just take off the reins and leave on the bridle like a halter and work that horse. Even let him sweat a bit. Make sure to not give him to much grain. thats all the advice i can give you.
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Old 05-19-2007, 11:44 PM  
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that is truly scary. thank god you stayed on!

would a gag bit work on him? I understand there is a gag bit with two reins, one it is a regular bit, then one that uses the gag when you need it.

Poor you and poor horse...was he ever worked in natural horsemanship? this may sound weird, but perhaps try something different. perhaps, for a few weeks, only allow him to walk. It's boring, but might calm him down and reset his pyschological clock. Walk a full arena workout, serpentines, circles, halt, down the middle, walk on trails, walk on the track, for hours. Till he is nice and tired and calm.

After a few weeks, introduce a little trot, but still walk a lot. After a few more weeks, add more trot. Only when his trust is back and he is soft and listening would i add canter, and then only in short stretches, stop before he gets tense. then add to it. You can do these slow paced workouts a long time, an hour or two, and supplement them with lunge work to keep him fit.
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Old 05-20-2007, 01:14 AM  
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I would just really work on improving together with your horse, and work on slowing down. I havn't had that happen much so I don't have much advice sorry.
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Old 05-20-2007, 06:28 AM  
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that sounds scary. I know what i would ahve done EEEEEEEEKKKKKK!!!!!! and prob. fallen.

But what I've HEARD to do, is one rein stops. If they turning they not going forward. don't know if that would work though. I assume from the post he is a racer?
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Old 05-20-2007, 06:38 AM  
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A runaway is the most dangerous kind of horse in my book.

The only suggestion I can make is he needs to have the one rein stop deeply imbedded into his brain. Start at the walk pull his nose to one side starting you hand and yout thigh and working up to your back pocket. When he stops moving, release. Be careful not to just pull the rein up high and back, start low and end up in the hip area. When he's got it at the walk, start at a trot. Any time he feels tense or ready to go use it. Once a runaway hits full steam its too late. You need to break his train of thought and remind him your there to help him out.

I have a mare with a bad past and the one rein stop is her safety net. It lets her know someone else is making the decisions and she's off the hook. I'd feel her tense and bring her nose around immediately and it's like "whew, your there to help me".

I would avoid wide open spaces until he has it down.

Good luck and stay safe.
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Old 05-20-2007, 08:00 AM  
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I agree with RHD. One rein stops. Exactly how she described teaching them. I have a mare I don't trust as far as I can throw her - looking for an excuse to bolt or buck. I worked on one rein stops until just lifting up the rein causes her to disengage.

I'm glad you are both okay!
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Old 05-20-2007, 08:01 AM  
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Yikes...I had the same thing happen to me this past fall, except when the horse finally did slow down, he bucked and I came off .

Just a note on the one rein stop. It does work sometimes, but if a horse is real detirmined, they will just keep on runnin' with their head pulled around (thats what mine did and I've seen it happen to others).

What I have always been taught to do is the pulley rein. You shorten up your reins (alot), brace your right hand (knuckles down) against the withers and pull your left hand up and across to your right shoulder. The whole thing should be done hard and fast. And the quicker you pull the horse up after he starts bolting, the easier it is.

Hope that helps you and Im very glad you are ok.
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Old 05-20-2007, 08:21 AM  
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Gag bits are used mainly for horses that are strong pullers or for horses that need retraining. Gag bits are most commonly seen in polo, eventing (especially for cross-country), show jumping, and hacking, mainly for increased control at times where a horse may be excited or try to run off with the rider.

Gag bits are also occasionally seen in western-style competition, usually in the form of a sliding mouthpiece on a shanked curb-style bit (similar to the American gag).

Some info above. I have heard good things re sliding rein stop, but as poster said, it needs to be used at the right time. Pulley rein can work but it sounds like u were already using a version of it. Besides, by then you are already in a scary full gallop. I'd look into a gag. Before anything else, you need to be SAFE. As this horse has a light mouth, you can ride the gag on a light or even loose contact, but it is there when you need it. or get the kind with two riens.

I'd also look into his feed, too much alfalfa? grain? also calming supplements help. I give my spooky youngster EX-STRESS, which has magnesium and vitamin B. It helps a lot. Don't know much about the herbal supplements, I've heard mixed things, like they don't work at all, to they work great. I do know EX-stress with magnesium works, don't know exactly why but magnesium depletion seems to make horses hotter and nervous.
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Old 05-20-2007, 09:16 AM  
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First thing, good job staying on!

My mare sounds like your guy. She never went to a trainer or had a bad experience but she was very hot, fast, and strong. I had to have a death grip on her right after we moved to a new barn. We figured out that the grain she was getting was a much better quality then the was use to, giving her more energy. So we switched her to pellets and a supplement. I use a smartpack supplement that has worked WONDERS on her. Its hard to describe the difference without seeing her but she was a crazy mare 5 months ago and now she is so quiet i can almost trust a kid on her (she just turned 4). I'll go and look up the supplement we use, it really works wonders.

About the hard mouth... What we did was switch her bit to a much stronger one. I hardly had to touch her mouth when riding her so she got much better with her mouth. Then we switched to a pellum(spelling) and worked on droping her nose to make her rounder and less harsh on her mouth. She is an arab so she moved with her nose sticking in the air, but now she moves all rounded out and relaxed. Now we are back to a full cheek snaffle and she is perfect. It took a little while but now she is back under control. The supplements, pellets, and bit changes worked wonders.

Good luck, and i hope this helped a little.

Edited to Add: Here is the link. http://www.smartpakequine.com/Produc...eCategory=true

It is called smartcalm ultra. It has worked wonders for two horses in the barn i'm at.
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Old 05-20-2007, 09:37 AM  
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"If you are still struggling with an anxious horse, you may want to try SmartCalm Ultra. This formulation contains all the ingredients (and all the benefits) of SmartCalm, but with a higher dose of Magnesium (10,000 mg), plus 125 mg of L-tryptophan per serving. L-tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid"

I have been following the post, so looked up ingredients of smart calm ultra, has magensium as Stress EX does, can't comment on whetehr addition of L-tryptohan helps or not, perhaps it does, if you are going to show in the future I do not know if l-trypto is on banned substance list or not.? anyone know? it sounds like a good product, try it or stress ex, either would help a lot.
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Old 05-20-2007, 11:18 AM  
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Hi
Like everyone else, I would look into the feeding program. I would also go back to basics. I never lope a horse until I have body control and tools to rate speed True collection is a key ingredient, and always riding with more leg than hands
Stronger bits are not the solution-better elementary training is
Young horses do not 'hog' the rail in a proper training program-that is the first mistake. Training and suppling excercises are always done away from the rail, teaching the horse to truly guide and be broke in his body instead of relying on the rail to guide
The rail is taught a good place to be for a horse- aplace he relaxes and goes along on a loose rein. If I need to school, I take them back off the rail. You want the rail to be a pleasant place to be, and also not a crutch by which the horse guides
A horse learns to run through the bit by people trying to use bit pressure instead of body control to rate speed. The more you pull, the more the horse learns to pull aginst you-it is a contest you can't win. Going to a stronger bit is a temporary solution and bandage fix. Eventually the horse will learn to run through each increment of bit until you have nothing left to go to.
Go back to a snafffle and have someone who knows how to put good basics on a horse help you
When you get to the point where you can get a good lope transtition-meaning the horse does not speed up to pick up the lope, falling into it out of foreward momentum, or by raising head, getting heavy on the bit, but out of driving from behind and elevating shoulders, staying backed off the bit-lope a few strides-stop, back up. Do either a roll back to the outside or a turn on the forehand-lope another half circle=repeat and repeat. The horse learns to think-wait, wait, instead of gethering for a marathon run. Eventually the horse will keep collection and self carriage for a longer and longer period, until you can lope anywhere, on a loose rein, rating speed off of seat and leg, and body language alone has the horse come to a stop
When a horse bolts-he has neither collection or self carriage. He is running on the forehand and leaning on the bit. A stronger bit is no solution-basic training teaching lightness and self carriage is
A one rein stop is a good safety messure in cases you are on a horse that was never broke correctly in the first place. I prefer to get them really broke first, and have never needed a one rein stop-no matter if I'm out on a trail or what have you.
A bit is a physcological control tool, working because a horse is conditioned to respond to it properly, just like a halter and lead shank. You could not control a mature horse with a plain lead shank and halter, were he not conditioned to respond to it properly through training
The same holds for a bit. Sure-you might inflick enough physical pain with a stronger bit for awhile to have the horse respond to it out of pain, but it does nothing to address the improper training and conditioning to a bit
A 'bigger' bit is designed for increased communication and finesse-not control. Control lies in correct training in basics so that response is light and ingrained to the slightest bit signal, or at upper levels , to seat and leg alone.
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Old 05-20-2007, 11:26 AM  
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I agree with above poster re retraining horse and bits, however, I think human safety is first, and for the owner to ride this horse safely at this time a "safety brake" is paramont, he needs something NOW, as a one rein stop takes months to become reliable, and it only works at low speeds. With a gag or other control bit, it does not have to be brought into play unless the horse bolts. With two reins it acts like a regular snaffle unless you use the second rein which activates the gag.

Imo, a seemingly severe bit can actually be easier on a horse than a snaffle as the rider can ride with a slack or very light rein with it. If a horse has learned it can plough through a plain snaffle or grab it in mouth and run off, going back to it too soon might be counterproductive, esp if owner gives up and horse is auctioned off.
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Old 05-20-2007, 02:17 PM  
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Joanne: I do have a gag bridle, but my fear is that he will go up and over if he starts to take off again and I have that on. Everything else you have said in your post about the walking then adding the trotting is what has been done with him. I think I need to rewind a bit and re-learn it again. WHOA needs to be drilled into his little noggin. And I think one of the reasons this is so frustrating is because ALL of my horses are trained that when you say Whoa or even start to, they nail the brakes. I personally see no problem overbitting a horse to make sure you have enough control to stop immediately. (Buy only if the rider knows how to properly use the bit, has a great seat and light, steady hands). And I don't want to sound like I'm giving up on him, I'm not but life it too short to ride a dangerous horse.

Dreamcleaner: Eeeeek is right! A racer...perhaps that's what he would like to be, but he's a Saddlebred! And he gets turned out 8-10 hours everyday in addition to being worked.

MLovely: I talked to someone yesterday about the one rein stop after he did this and I was pulling his head, but he wasn't turning. I used the pulley rein stop method and I think that finally is what got him to slow down and stop, but again, I don't really remember.

Recklesshoundog: You bet! Now with a one rein stop, when the horse is going that fast, aren't you taking a chance of pulling the head over and having the horse go down? That's what I'm afraid of.
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Old 05-20-2007, 04:00 PM  
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I agree re life is too short...maybe someone else wants to take him on a as a project...can't comment on whether he'd rear with gag bridle, I doubt it but don't want to put you in harm's way. Only thing you might try in addition to drilling the "whoa" in is to add ex-stress or similar supplement, also if you feed hay with a lot of alfalfa that could make him hot too.
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Old 05-20-2007, 04:49 PM  
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Sounds to me like he still has a really strong fear/flight response and the "trainer" that had him for that short time just made it worse.

I agree that it sounds like he needs to take a step back to whatever level he feels comfortable at and really reinforce the whoa concept to him with major praise when he responds.

A harsher bit doesn't sound like it's what he needs since he's already so light in the bridle. Maybe an emergency set of draw reins or a second set with a running martengale in case he takes off instead?

If you have a set of draws on him as an emergency brake and you can bend him around to the off leg (opposite of whatever lead he is in) you "should" be able to use that as a bit stronger of a one rein stop. It would at least make it harder for him to run. But then again if he's as good at rubbernecking as my husbands Reno is that may or may not work.
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Old 05-20-2007, 05:04 PM  
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Recklesshoundog: You bet! Now with a one rein stop, when the horse is going that fast, aren't you taking a chance of pulling the head over and having the horse go down? That's what I'm afraid of.[/quote]

That's why it's important to ride the hand up your thigh to your pocket. Pulling from his shoulder to your belly is the move that will turn him to a piece of wood and have them tumble. It's also paramount to catch him in the first stride or two of a bolt, get him to disengage and give him a task that he knows the definate answer to.

I would use it as the solo method for teaching him to stop. Pulling back with two hands gives them something to brace against. Every single time you want him to stop, use the one rein. It's going to take some mental reprogramming on your behalf too.

I disagree with the fact it takes months to teach and only works at slow speeds. It's not about physical strength jerking them around, it's about signaling the brain to disengage and take the "foot of the gas" Fine tuning them mentally and teaching them to trust the partner on their back not the outside forces telling them to get outta Dodge.

I honestly think a bigger stronger bit is adding gas to the fire of his all ready short circuited brain until he gets some more basic concepts down.

I strongly agree your safety is the most important thing. It's great to have the aspirations to fix him but not worth yourself ending up injured or losing confidence. I've ridden runaways and it's the worst thing. Give me a confident evil bucker over a sensitive fraidy cat runaway! (Well, actually how about neither! ) Set a timeline for improvement, keep safe, and know when it's time to say uncle!

Seriously, good luck and stay safe.
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Old 05-21-2007, 12:30 PM  
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There seems to be a difference of opinion on what a hot horse is in this post. A hot horse in my books is not the same as a horse with bad habits that result in bolting or bucking., as that is an additional problem.
A hot horse is a horse that needs more warm up before he is ready to go to work-but one that still responds to basic cues such a whoa and does not run through the bridle.
You can have a 'lukewarm horse run through the bridle, simply becuase he decides he rather not work and head back to the barn
A horse that bolts lacks correct inincial training, unless he has a poor mind, and is one of those few horses that just is never reliable, regardless of how well they were started. To me, a horse like that is not worth the time or saftety risk-there are just too many good minded horses in this world.
It is just better to never have a horse learn a vise in the first place than to try and correct it. A vice can be fixed with very knowledgeable re-training, but the basic instinct towards that behavior nevr goes away completely and can resurface whenever the flight or fight mode kicks in, or with a rider less skilled tahn the trainer that fixes the fault and the horse trying that rider.
A stronger bit is still not the answer. The snaffle is designed to be able to take hold of a horse when needed. A curb is designed for riding without bit contact. I have never used a gag bit, as I rather just put control on a horse through proper training. I know that some speed horses, esp those used in games, do get to the point where they are ridden with bits that are designed to 'control them-including gag bits,bycle chain bits, tie downs and the list goes on.
This horse has not been gamed, but is a young horse that got screwed up and thus has developed a bad habit-a very dangerous one. Bigger bits are not the answer-riding this horse in a controlled area, in a snaffle, going back to basic training and body control is. I would never ride a horse that is a bolter in the open-as that is just asking for an accident. What if he bolted across a busy highway?
Over 25 years of training colts we have raised and riding them anywhere eventiually, Including shows, tough mountain trails, Calgary Stampede parade and down the road, has made me a firm be;liever in getting the horse really soft and responsive, first in an controlled area, then you have the tools to get the horse to focus and listen to you no matter where you ride. This is done by first riding correctly in a snaffle, teaching body control, speeed rating at all gaits and transitions and collection-working towards the horse developing self carriage on a loose rein. At this point he is ready to be ridden in a curb, one handed , off of seat and leg, and very little if any bit contact
You need that horse when he gets in a situation that kicks in his fight or flight instinct, to be able to focus back on you and over ride his natural tendency.
Still am confused by ' a young horse hogging the rail' Doesn't happen in any that are started correctly. Just riding along a rail teaches a young horse nothing. You take him there as a reward when he is performing correctly and listening to all cues on a very light or loose rein.
Even in a snaffle, you don't ride with constant bit pressure, which only teachs a horse to become heavy and to lean on the bit-thus the idea you need to move on to a 'bigger bit'
Until this horse is listening to whoa at the walk and trot, off of seat and leg, with very little bit aid, stopping on his back end, not on his front end leaning into the bit-I wouldn't even think of lopping him. If its not right at the walk and trot it sure as heck won't be at the lope. If it's not correct in an enclosed area, it sure as heck won't be in the wide open spaces
Like John Lylons has stated-ride where you can, not where you can't. You never want to get into a situation where the horse has the upper advantage as you have then just atught him avery negative thing he will use again when the time is right. Baby steps and good regular training in a snaffle is the key.
While an older spoiled horse that has learned bad haits over the years by improper riding, might need to be salavged by resorting to things like a gag bit-this is a colt-a horse that certainly has never had the right amount of time being ridden correctly in a snaffle bit to teach him correct basics-unless he was started as a yearling. Fast tracking him by using bigger bits instead of increasing his understanding and confidence by taking it slow and developing him correctly in a snaffle is a attempted quick fix instead of going back and starting this horse correctly
I ride a horse in a snaffle for at least a year, getting them soft and correct-and I'm talking of at least 5 days a week of riding. That makes the horse 4 by the time he is ready to move up to a transitional curb-like a short shanked jointed bit (not a tom Thumb! ) By this time, the horse has aleady learned self carriage in a snaffle, able to maintain frame on a loose rein , with only the occasional fix, requireing more contact. He rates speed not off of bit pressure, but by added collection of of seat and leg aids. He performs all transitions up and down, while keeping frame, elevating shoulders not head, nor sticking out nose. Whoa and responsiveness becomes as secondary nature as standing tied or leading off a halter.When a three year old needs A bigger bit or a gag bit-something is wrong in that horse's training or mind
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