Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Bolting Under Saddle

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If you want to rule out any physical issue being a factor in the behavior.
  • Some vets have valuable advice regarding behavioral and training issues.

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

  • Some vets have valuable advice regarding behavioral and training issues.

Bolting while under saddle is usually a training problem but can be caused by musculoskeletal pain, dental conditions, and problems with saddle and bridle fit, among many others.

Horses that run through the bit have not been trained to properly yield to pressure by the bit. While fear or spooking may be the presumed cause for the behavior, it is only the stimulus for a spook. Trained horses should still yield to modest rein pressure and be able to be brought to a stop.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the back and mouth and areas under the tack. Look for hair loss, swelling and pain to pressure. Assess bit, bridle and saddle fit. Seek help with an assessment of your tack and its fit. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will try to rule out physical issues. Once your vet has ruled out a physical problem, the horse’s training and the rider’s riding needs to be examined.

In my experience, horses that have no respect for pressure from the bridle ideally should be restarted from the ground, and re-taught the basics of yielding to pressure. The rider may need to seek help from a qualified trainer to regain confidence that they are giving the correct cues.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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