Why does a Horse bolt?

Why does a horse bolt?

If you have ever had the unfortunate experience of riding a run away horse (horse bolt), then you are already aware of how frightening it can be.

Horses behave this way, for different reasons, so we’ll run through them all.


This is quite common in younger horses, also some older horses. 

A youngster will look at everything and noise will also set him off.

Something upsets him and he takes off, getting faster and faster trying to run away from the source of its anxiety.

Novice rider

Novice riding can play a big part and encourage a horse to take off.

If the horse is startled by something and leaps forward and the rider gets left behind, this could result in the rider banging down on the back of the saddle whist jabbing the horse in the mouth, resulting in the horse taking off in a panic, especially if it's a nervous type.


The horse could genuinely be in pain; therefore he is trying to run away from it.

It could be a sore mouth or something under the saddle, part of the bridle rubbing or pinching him.

A horse will tolerate so much pain, then when the pressure builds up, his natural reaction is to run away from it.

Explosive horse

A horse that has been stabled for a few days might have a lot of pent up energy to release.

He will feel like a "bottle of pop", ready to explode.

He is likely to use any excuse to take off, e.g. a plastic bag flying around is a good excuse to release some pent up energy and a controlled canter is likely to turn into a full gallop.

Try lunging the horse before riding, to take the edge off him.

Nervous young horse

Almost anything can set this type of horse off, such as something jumping out of a hedge, like a dog, cat, bird, rustling noises, gun going off.

When you ride a youngster you should always be thinking ahead, anticipating the next hazard, whilst remaining calm and relaxed at all times.

If the rider is nervous, the horse will pick up on  this and it is likely to heighten his adrenalin and panic him even more.

Ex race horse

Many people buy an ex racehorse who have recently come out of training.

In an open space, they may set off at high speed.

The rider may see this as the horse bolting when in fact; it is what the horse has trained to do.

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Scroll down from run away horse, to find out what to do, when this happens.

Horse Problems

Horse bolt > > Home

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