Have you ever been on a runaway horse? It’s pretty scary, not to mention extremely dangerous. Here are some tips to help avoid the situation as well as stop your horse in case it does happen to you.
Prevention is the best method.
Before you head out on the trail, you must have trust, communication and leadership with your horse. If you don’t have these key factors at home, there is no way you will have them out on the trail. Train and practice at home to ensure you and your horse are comfortable riding alone, with other riders, and through and over obstacles. The better prepared you are at home, the easier it is to handle the unexpected out on the trail.
Ride with friends that are courteous and communicate well. Peer pressure is never fun, and can be dangerous when you are coerced into riding beyond where you feel comfortable. Your horse will know you are uncomfortable and she will become uncomfortable as well; thus creating a dangerous situation. Communication is key among riding groups to ensure no horse feels left behind by the herd.
The best way to slow down a runaway horse is to turn them. This is only possible of course in a large open area and will not work on a single track trail. If space is available to you, begin to turn your horse onto a very large circle. If you turn is too abrupt you can cause your horse to become off balance and possibly fall. As you circle, begin to spiral inwards and make the circle smaller and smaller until your horse stops. If you’re on a single track trail, pick up ONE rein and pull straight UP to slow down and possibly stop your horse. Make sure it’s only one rein and you’re pulling up towards the sky and not back towards your belly button. You may even need to reach down your horse’s neck to shorten the length of your rein before pulling up. If you pull back, it won’t have much effect on your horse. If you pull back with both reins your horse can just hold on to the bit and keep running. If your horse did not stop, but did slow, then release the rein and take a deep breath. If your horse continues to run, then try the one rein again, but use the other rein instead. Continue to alternate one rein at a time with a deep breath in between until your horse stops.
This is extremely hard to do in a very scary situation! However, the more upset you get the more your horse is encouraged to run faster. Hold onto your horn or nightlatch, breathe, count to ten in your head, or anything you can do to remain as calm and relaxed at possible. Once you start to relax soon your horse will wonder why she’s running so fast.