HURRAY! HURRAY! We are coming to the end of bolting!
We, in America, have had problems with Icelandic Horses bolting. Bolting has been a re-occurring subject on the discussion list. With better training for the horse, it seems to be coming to an end. To not address this issue would be to invalidate the people who have had problems with bolting. Therefore, for the sake of the few who may still have the problem, we'll take a look at it here.
There are two types of people who are drawn to Icelandic Horses: those who want to show, and those who want a nice, small, gaited, dependable trail horse. In my opinion, training for competition and training for trail are somewhat different. Since the majority of owners are those in the latter category, they surely don't want a horse that has been trained spirited for straight-line speed. :-)
I think there were several reasons for horses bolting. Some have to do with training, some have to do with breeding. The horses who are a little more nervous / hot / edgy / sensitive may be more prone to run. Some horses, if they think they don't understand what you want, and they were trained for speed, will default to running rather than another choice.
We need to know a little about the way some gaited horses are trained, to understand why this may lead to bolting:
"Snaffles with heavy hands can make them quite severe. The bit, hands, and forcing the horse into a frame (false collection) to better perform the gait, results in the rider holding up a bracey horse that is extremely forward and heavy on the forehand.
When the rider attempts to release the pressure on the bit, the
horse is so braced and forward that he must speed up in order to stay
"balanced" and get back on that bit to continue to perform the gait. Hence, going faster and faster. A vicious cycle.
Slowing down is not an option since they seem to feel that they MUST perform the gait, become anxious, and the rider is pretty much tuned out as the horse has become mechanical in his performance. Self-collection is usually non-evident in this situation." Non-evident is an understatement; "impossible" is more like it!
The horse is such a willing animal, and I believe that Icelandic Horses are extremely sensible and willing to please--if only they are given the chance. By hurting their mouths, digging the saddles down into their backs, they sometimes have no choice BUT to try to get away from the pain. Don't forget that horses are animals of flight.
The Icelandic Horse is generally a very docile animal on the ground. It stands to reason that he would be a good solid trail mount. The secret to getting there is in "consideration" of the horse. We need to train the horse in the manner in which he'll be used. If we buy a horse that is used to going fast, that's what you should expect. If you want a slower horse, you'll need to find and / or train the horse in this manner.
Look at this poor horse--being shown with the rider pulling on his mouth--so much so that his mouth is gaping open with tongue hanging out!! (No, the answer is NOT to put on a noseband!!) There is no relief; the horse is left with NO choice. For additional information, please see the Horsemanship Paradigm page; click here. The answers will be found in better training methods, educating owners, owners taking responsibility for training and for who they let work with their horses!
Do you want to "make" him, or "break" him? Please find GOOD horse trainers. The Icelandic Horse is a horse first and deserves good foundation training, not being rushed under saddle, forced into frame, forced to gait. When owners go this route, the horse is sacrificed in the deal... and there ya go: Bolt!
We are SO pleased that this cycle is coming to an end. We are having more and more satisfied and happy Icelandic Horse owners.