Bolting

ElleJS

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Ok have a little dilemma with a 13.2 pony on my yard at the moment. Opinions would be brill as at a bit of a loss of what to do. Its long to give you the whole story!

He is a stunning 13.2 Irish sports pony, came over from Ireland a few years ago and sold on to current owners last year.
The girl who owns him rode him all summer with no problems apart from his occasional strongness which was sorted by a nathe butterfly flip, he won chase me charlies up to 3ft6, dressage, every local show he went to he never came home without a trophy or prize, fantastic pony, hunted for the first time last year and was foot perfect. He has a 100% honest safe temp on the floor you could trust him with the smallest child. He was for sale at the end of the season but the buyer dropped out as didn't come up with the £ and so he has stayed on the yard since. He could be a seriously good jumping pony.

Now the problem! He has always been a bit strong, although not into jumps (he breaks into trot if you let him!) or if horses canter off without him kind of way, he is VERY laid back but he just sits on the bit and gets faster and faster. We have him in a nathe butterflip all year and has been fab as he is soft in his mouth. His back/teeth/etc... are in tip top condition...

Since 8 weeks ago he has developed a very strange habit. He will be going extremely well and calmly and then for no reason bolt uncontrollably. And I mean uncontroble, you cannot stop him as he is running in blind fear for no reason. He then stops and carries on as normal. He doesn't look right in his face when we ride him, his ears aren't back and he is in no obvious pain but just not happy so of course you go thru the old teeth back etc check list and all is ok.

I have been riding him and he tried to bolt with me but I have managed to stop him before it got too bad, however using ALL my strength i had to put both hands on the bridle to stop him galloping thru the school fence out of control. Scary stuff. I have ridden some very strong event horses but have never experienced a bolter till this 13.2 and jeees its scary!

I thought I had cracked it as prevented 5 bolting episodes before they happened by grabbing the left rein and spinning him around, this worked for a while and he stopped trying to bolt with me.
(The young girl rider has had to bail out off him when he bolted last and obviously lost her confidence, he has even had a girl who rides out for me off. so he perhaps thought he could get away with it) So at first we thought he was being naughty.

Today was the last straw as I did come off when my saddle slipped when he bolted off after we all thought I had sorted him. He bolted again for NO reason. Now he isn't being naughty- I just have that feeling as he is relaxed and chilled one minute then the next in fear. If he wanted me off surely he would buck/rear/nap. He is going REALLY well on the flat and then WHAM he bolts.

Thinking I had cracked it I am now at a loss as can't risk myself anymore coming off and the owner is to lovely and hated the thought of him damaging anyone!
What has happened to this wonderful pony? Out of the blue?

Could he have a problem in his eye that could cause this random bolt out of fear? He was supposed to be for sale as he was going so well back last year but obviously we can't sell him but the owner needs to get rid of him now.

One idea would be get vet to check him and then if OK turn him out on to Dr Green for 3 months or so and see if he just needed a break.
Or do we sell him to a dealer explaining all this to see if they could fix it? He could be worth a fair bit if he didn't do this!

We really don't know as it is so weird what he does. If it was naughtyness it would be easy but he is just running in fear one minute and then a saint the next. I have jumped courses of showjumps and he is fantastic and so calm, so he isn't being fizzy.
Argh!! We all want to do whats best for this pony...

Thank you for reading this far! And thank you if you can give any advice!
 

diggerbez

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sounds scary
i hate to say it but the only horse i know whose behaviour changed like this out of the blue (and with back, teetch etc all being fine) was PTS and in a Post Mortem they found he had a tumour....
 

Wilbur_Force

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Hi there, this is a really interesting one! Have you had him checked for things like kissing spines or like you said, perhaps he has an eye problem causing him to react so violently. If he suddenly returns to his 'normal' self after he's done it, you have wonder if its pain related. Has anything changed? His routine, feed, etc? So, other side of the coin, he's learned a marvellous new tactic for getting out of doing something when the pressure is on. Does he do it hacking, or is it just jumping in the school - when doing 'boring flatwork'. Is he shying at things on the yard, when tied up for example? There are so many different scenarios, that sometimes its best to just go with gut feeling - do you think its pain relating or completely taking the p***!!
 

ElleJS

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Yes you see I too thought that... I thought perhaps at first the kids were letting him get away with it and I just need to put him in his place but after riding him I don't think he is being naughty. He did it out in the field too. The girl was riding him and she bailed out. He doesn't shy- he just goes from la la la on the bit to bolt flat out. No flinching or spooking. Bomb proof on the yard never moves a muscle without permission! Bless him this is why it is so hard as he is so angelic normally.

Haven't checked him for things like kissing spine etc although those things enter my mind but the owner wouldn't want to spend money on investigating kissing spine as it would cost more than he is worth and it would be cheaper to sell him as a companion pony. The vet is coming tomorrow however to look at his eyes.

As for routine, he is in more than normal than in the summer but he isn't fizzy or buzzy and he is turned out either in the school or field every day. Routine is always the same, He is laid back when you ride him but then does this random bolt out of the blue! Feed wise - he gets carrots! he looks in fab condition, he is a irish job and does well on fresh air!
 

kerilli

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it sounds physical to me, as if it has a root in sudden pain. i'd be looking at back pain or hind-end pain or brain tumour etc. imho if they're using all their strength like this they aren't being naughty or trying it on, as they're endangering themselves too, it is an uncontrollable response to a stimulus you haven't found yet...
Dr Green is a good idea, see if he ever does it in the field i think. that's what i'd do.
 

seabiscuit

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It may be worth getting Bob Livock have a look at his teeth- my horse used to just run through any bridle, sometimes in blind panic - you could put the most severe bit on him in the world and it didnt stop him. Flatwork he would always get more and more tense. His teeth had been checked out by local EDT's ( in fact the guy had been one of the chief examiners for BAEDT ) took him to Bob's and his teeth were, apparently awful, his canine teeth were about 1 1/2 inches too long, plus various other ailiments, Bob said that there was no way that the horse could ever had accepted a contact properly and would have just run through any bit.
His teeth were rasped /cut for 1 1/2 hours ( despite horse having seen the top local dentist a few months earlier) got home , put a bridle on...and completly different horse. so soft and NEVER strong.
Bob does all the top International showjumpers/comp horses across europe, it might be worth giving him a go?
 

only_me

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not be a down-ner or anything, but friends pony started doing this (and hugely talented as well, such a shame really
) and they did all sorts of tests, no idea what was wrong with it - they checked for tumours, nope, unless incredibly small, kissing spines etc. all checked for. It wasnt the rider as they are excellent as well!
Found nothing, so pony is now a broodmare. Un-rideable and no idea why


But tumours or back pain came into mind, especially when you said saddle slipped made me think saddle not quite right?
 

ElleJS

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O_B you would think it would be that but teeth checked v recently by a really good equine dentist and (unfortunately!) all ok. had him doped and had a really good look in his mouth and apart from routine stuff all ok. He is only in a nathe, albeit it is a butterfly flip so a slight gag action but a soft bit. The kids need a bit more.

Kerilli- Yes it could be that. We have had our fab back physio/oesteopath out and again nothing, infact he seems strong in his back. He is a real strong sturdy compact sort but then with out serious investigation we can't rule out something like Kissingspine. Which it very well could be I guess. And like you said he isn't being naughty as I honestly think he would kill himself when he bolts as it is completely blind fear. My gut feeling when I ride him is maybe something in his head. It feels like a switch (stimulus) is suddenly triggered. hence why I thought perhaps he could be going blind and seeing something that isn't there??!!! I want this vet to have a really good look in his eyes i think or tumour....
I think Dr Green then if not.... he has bolted in the field when the 14yo was riding him.... so its not just in the school. Worrying!
 

ElleJS

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Only_me you could very well be right. Might never find out. Such a shame if so.

I rode him in my butet (it is a good enough fit- as in it doesn't pinch etc.. and it fits me incase of dangerous situations!) he is barrel like and when he bolted he galloped into the fence so I leaned my weight to counter balance him falling into the fence thats why the saddle slipped! (My life flashed infron of my eyes!)

He has a saddle thats fitted to him and he bolted in that too but I can't ride in it especially if he bolts, it too dangerous for me. I'm very sure its not the saddle tho! Nightmare!

Thank you for your help
 

seabiscuit

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The thing is that Bob has totally different ideas/methods than most/all 'normal' dentists-his methods really work- hence why the whitaker family travel every single one of their horses all the way from Yorkshire to Wiltshire for him to do them- John had 30 booked in to see Bob the last time I was there!
I completly understand if youv'e already had a good dentist check him out tho!
 

sabel

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Someone I know had ahorse that suddenly started bolting for no apparent reason, as you said just like someone had flipped a switch.
This mare had been an excellent hunter and bombproof to hack but suddenly started bolting out hacking, obviously incredibly dangerous and ended up being PTS.
Post mortem revealed brain tumour.
Hope this isn't the case for this pony
 

kerilli

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well... i've had 1 horse who was going blind in 1 eye and she never bolted, quite the opposite - she slowed down and thought more, considered things more carefully..
ah, i know what this reminds me of... knew a good horse years ago who started doing this, apparently there's a big nerve bundle somewhere along the back and this was firing randomly, not sure if any vets are around to tell me whether this might have an atom of truth in it or be totally hogwash?

oh, and i meant "turn away and see if he ever does it while at liberty in the field"... not, had he done it ridden in the field. i'm sure you are doing nothing consciously to trigger it, arena or field should make no difference imho.
 

ElleJS

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Yeah i do hope this isn't the start of something awful. Poor pony. But he was bought with out a vetting so who knows what he has! Such a shame. Kerilli I think you could be right... we will turn him out and moniter him and perhaps have his back investigated as much as poss
 

scally

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There are a huge bundle of nerves just behind the shoulder where the girth sits, that could be causing girth bind, that once they go into spasm he bolts against the pain.

Changing girths especially ones that are cut away at the shoulder can help if this is the problem, especially in barrel shaped ponies the girth can pinch these nerves and set off an instant sharp pain response.

In some horses bucking is the result in others bolting, it is not clear on saddling up the problem is there it is a certain movement that sends the nerves into spasm.
 

Rosiefan

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Can't really help apart from pointing out the obvious - seems he only does it when someone is on him so sticking him in a field and monitoring sounds like a good idea. Fingers crossed you get to the bottom of it as he sounds like a lovely pony in all other respects.
 

tiggs

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Does he do it when being lunged in a roller, it might help rule out saddle, weight on his back etc. Not sure whether you would want to lunge a horse that might bolt but at least you would hopefully not get hurt.
 

SpottedCat

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[ QUOTE ]
May be worth having him scoped for ulcers.

[/ QUOTE ]

Never known anything with ulcers react like that as it provokes the opposite response in them due to the anatomy of the stomach/surrounding muscles and the effect of really stretched out fast work on the acid splash. The reason horses with ulcers get nappy/fall behind the leg/don't want to stretch out over fences is because when the horse uses its abdominal muscles, it causes the stomach to contract and squeezes the stomach meaning if there is nothing to buffer it then the acid splashes up onto the tissue which has no mucosal protection. So rearing/napping/kicking out at the leg/being dead to the leg/stopping at fences etc are all common symptoms of ulcers but bolting would make the pain worse not better, so would be an odd reaction for a horse with ulcers. Even with glandular ulcers caused by the mucus not providing the right amount of protection, exercise makes it worse not better, so nappiness etc is the usual symptom not bolting.

I too am inclined to think eyes/back/teeth/tumour
 

wizoz

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Does he have a heart murmour? This can make horses turn like a flick of the switch. Might be worth having him checked out?

As an explanation, I have been around two horses who have had heart murmours, it effects their temperament as they become aggressive. The reason why this happens is because the blood flow becomes slower to the brain and they don't know what they are doing, I have been attacked by both horses and you can see that they go vey vacant in their eyes, like a vail has been drawn over them.

I haven't though, ever heard of a horse bolting from it, so I could be way off. A tumour does sound like a better explanation to me.

Hope you get it sorted.
 

hmk101

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I had a saintly horse that took to bolting and it turned out to be aggressive cataracts. The first vet check up didnt really make note of them, but when the same vet came back a fortnight later they had progressed massively rendering the horse practically blind. The teller with ours was his behaviour changed in the field as well as in the stable / ridden.
 

snoozles

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Hi there

Is he rubber necking when bolting, or setting neck in a pull and bolting? I've had more joy resolving the setting neck variety. Anyway - bolting is terrifying! I'd be inclined to think apart from the usual suggestions; eyes, and brain ... facial nerve pain (have a look at Budras's book to see how they are wired) and cervical compression. Does he do this when in contact, or just any old time?
 

little_flea

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Our gelding was fab for the first few months we had him. Suddenly he started bolting, completely out of the blue. We had everything checked, including all scans, x-rays etc. Chiropractirs, vets, ostgeos, treating for ulcers etc etc. Nothing skeletal that shows up on x-rays. . Rossdales hospital said it was all in his head, that he was just being very naughty. We got pro to ride him, same thing. Turned him away for 6 months and just brought back into work. Stunning to work from the ground- but as soon as he has the weight of a rider on his back, it hurts him. Unidentified soft tissue problem, definitely pain, not a mental issue. He is now being retired at 7 years old.

I guess all I am saying is that when a nice horse suddenly starts behaving like this, they have a good reason for it. You are obviously much more experienced than me, but just thought I'd share.

In our case I think it is due to too much too soon. Ollie was bred out if 2 grand priz show jumpers and went through very rigorous young horse classes in France, and I think it just broke him.
 

Nic

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Not the same reaction but will put my 2p in anyway. My barrel shaped pony had nerve damage between his front legs from the girth repeatedly being ovetightened. He did not bolt but would bronc until the rider & saddle came off.

In the end we gave up as he landed me in hospital one too many times.
 

daisycrazy

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My only experience of random bolting without any warning (and which wasn't naughtiness) was a pony with periodic opthalmia or moon blindness. Couldn't stop him for anything when he went and all 12.2hh of him could clear anything, so it was a very terrifying and dangerous thing to be sitting on. Really sweet, talented pony otherwise.

Something worth checking for.
 

Ranyhyn

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My only thoughts are we had a lovely ex racer at our yard who would back up, at 100MPH for no reason out on rides, turned out he had something wrong with his eyes and when ridden in bright sunlight effectively rendered him blind. He was only allowed to be ridden in early morning or late afternoon after that.
 
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