Why does my horse bolt? Trigger stacking | Animated Series Episode 9
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Why does my horse bolt? Trigger stacking | Animated Series Episode 9

August 24, 2019


Horses can bolt for several reasons but many
times a horse bolt as a result of trigger stacking. If a rider understands how trigger stacking
affect his horse then he can avoid putting his horse in a situation where he might bolt
and injure himself, his rider or members of the public. Trigger stacking happens when multiple stressors
or stressful events occur at the same time or relatively close together. When stressors are combined together they
can cause the animal to go over threshold of reactivity and act out flight or fight
behaviours. Imagine your horse as an empty glass and the
stressors as liquids. Depending on the stressors and on the individual
a certain amount of liquid is poured into the glass. So for example:
A horse owner wants to go to for a ride, she takes her animal out of his stable where he
just spent his past 12hours. The weather is not the best, so unfortunately
no other riders on the yard want to accompany her. She saddle up her horse and start riding along
a bridle path where she cross path with a man who is just opening his umbrella. When the umbrella opens, the horse bolts. While we could see the umbrella as being the
reason behind the horse bolting, it is more likely in this scenario that the umbrella
is simply “the last straw”. The glass has overflowed; the horse has reached
his threshold. So what should you do to prevent the horse
from bolting? First identify potential stressors. Common stressors include vehicles, dogs, plastic
bags etc. but management that do not fulfil the keys needs of your horse such as social
isolation, lack of turnout and low forage diet also causes stress. Harsh training and handling, bits, whips or
ill fitted tacks are also potential stressors. Learn about equine body language, especially
subtle signs of stress that the horse will display as his glass get fuller. Watch our previous animated video to learn
more about this topic. Desensitise your horse to common stressors
to lower their value using counter conditioning, systematic desensitisation or habituation. And yes we do have a video on this topic. All links will be in the description. Additionally it’s important to not have
a “just kick him past it” attitude when a horse is unsure about something. Not only because it is not the compassionate
thing to do but also because the kicking or whipping is an additional stressor that has
the capacity to make a nearly full glass overflow. If you enjoyed this video, check out the other
episodes available in our animated series. Do not forget to like and share this video
and to subscribe to our youtube channel for more. Don’t hesitate to comment below suggestion
for future episodes and If you would like to help me make more free educational ressources
just like this, check out the patreon link in the description below this video. Have a beautiful day and I see you in the
next video.

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  1. Thank you so much for your great videos!! πŸ˜πŸ‘Œβ€I wish more horse people would start to think about positive reinforcement! Its so sad what is happening to the most horses and just a few people change in a long way their minds😏

  2. Fantastic video and I loved your explanation! I often use the cup of water analogy to explain stress and how our stress cup can get too full and a seemingly small event can tip us over the edge. Makes perfect sense that it should apply to horses too! πŸ’–

  3. Thank you for your wonderful and informative videos. The material is broken down so it is simple to understand!

  4. Thankyou for the video! I've become quite attached to your videos lately. So I'm a newbie in horses and horse riding and I have experienced my first bolt and horse fall in my horse riding lessons. It hurt a lot and I fell into stinging nettles, winded myself and bruised all of the side of my body. I did notice some strange moments in the horses behaviour before it happened but I just thought she was a bit grumpy or something. Thanks for this information, I'll try to look for stress to try and prevent them bolting. 😊

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