People think a bolting horse is running off with them when in fact the horse is trying to run away from them.
Horses run off out of fear and confusion. They don’t run off when they are calm, trusting and comfortable with the rider. Because bolting is a fear-based reaction, the cure for bolting horses begins with earning the horse’s trust. This is not actually a hard thing to do in and of itself, but sometimes it’s hard for people to take the time to do it because they often want to just hurry up and ride.
There is no bit in the world that can control a horse’s emotions except a bit of horse savvy. You need more knowledge, not bigger contraptions in your horse’s mouth to work with a horse that’s afraid.
The Parelli Natural Horse Training Approach
The cure for bolting horses begins on the ground. You can’t just hop on the back of a horse that doesn’t trust you, or you can expect problems. It’s been years since Pat Parelli got on a horse that didn’t want him there, but his rodeo career sparked his interest in figuring out how to get horses to accept riders.
There are specific things people can do to help a horse relax, beginning with working on the relationship itself. You’ll learn a lot about that in the Natural Attraction DVD. You also need to know how to play with the horse on the ground so you have mutual understanding, responses instead of reactions, and a horse that looks to you as a leader rather than as a threat to his safety. Our Seven Games DVD is a wonderful guide to horse play.
The preparations on the ground are an important warm-up to get the horse in the right frame of mind to be ridden. A bolting horse is a horse that doesn’t want you on his back. Once you get him to let you on, there are specific exercises for calming the horse. You can learn all about these in the Calm Ride DVD.
Horsenality™ and Bolting Horses
Certain horse personalities – which we refer to as “Horsenalities™”– are more prone to bolting than others, while some are more prone to buckingor just refusing to go. Bolting is very much a Horsenality™-specific tendency (a Right-Brain horse for example is likely to bolt when fearful) but no matter your horse’s personality, if you make it a priority to have your horse calm and confident you’ll solve all those impulsive problems…naturally.
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