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How to Correct a Horse From Bolting Through the Gate


Horses mainly bolt when their scared because they are flight animals not fight animals. This means that their main defense is to run since they are pray animals. Although they will fight if the situation is necessary. If a horse in the wild was to get injured in such a way that they wouldn't be able to run from a predictor fast enough or couldn't fight back that odds are they would die. Horses by nature are very weary of new unknown objects, looking at it like its about to attack them waiting to see if they have to run away.

An issue that many horse owners tend to go through at some point is when they put their horse in the field and he/she bolt either through the gate while still on a lead causing the owner to get dragged into the field by a 1000+ pound animal! I know from experience that this is NOT very fun! My quarter horse mare, Zoey did this the first week we got her and it was a pain! I quickly corrected the issue by squashing it right away.

Correcting A Horse Who Bolts Through Gates

The easiest way and most of the time the most effective way to teach your horse not to bolt is to grab his/her favorite treat and take some with you while you put your horse away. Let your horse smell the treat so he knows you have it, this will distract him from focusing on running away into the field. Make sure you keep a good grip on the lead just in case he does decide to bolt. As you open the gate walk ALL the way through the gate, do NOT stop right at the opening and let your horse go. If you do that then you on teaching your horse that when the gate is open he automatically goes through it and is free to run. After you walk all the way through the gate keep your horse on the lead and give him his treat. You can repeat going in and out of the gate a couple times when ever you put him back so your horse learns that just cause he goes into the field it doesn't mean he is going to be free right away.

Poly, the 6 year old Thoroughbred mare, walks calmly through the gate.

When I was teaching Zoey not to pull me through the gate and try to run on a lead it was very hard to get her to stop at first cause she is over 1000lbs of pure muscle. I had to use some stern force as well as the treat reward. It all depends on how much your horse tries to bolt away from you to no what methods to use. A strong quick bolter may have to be handed over to a stronger person to teach not to bolt at first but I recommend that who ever normally handles the horse should take him in and out of the gate multiple times and have the horse under control. Since the horse was bolting and is handled the most with that person he must learn to respect the space and authority of the handler. Remember horses are not humans they are animals and should be treated like a horse. Learn to read the behavior of horses and how they interact to fully understand why they do the things they do. Go with mother nature, not against it.


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