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The tack room

Pony bolted :'( daughter in hospital

104 replies

LoobyLou2709 · 04/02/2023 22:11

Ok, I'm sat here stressed as hell wondering where I go from here and after some advise! .. please be kind as I'm feeling terrible, helpless, guilty and sick in my stomach of what could have happened!
Brief back story!.. new pony purchased October for my 10 year old daughter, pony ticked all the boxes a proper first ridden, safe as houses, had references, loads of videos of pony ridden by very novice girls, viewed twice, had 5 stage vetting, he wasn't cheap! I'm experienced but admit I've been out of the buying market for a while! my daughter is a polite neat little rider and is keen but not brave, so stressed it had to be a very safe more woah than go type etc, we have been gradually getting to know him over the last 3 months, and apart from a few annoying things that we have managed to deal with, he's been ok. today riding in the field, (was told he's amazing in open spaces, saw videos etc) he full on bolted with her, flat out there was not a hope in hell he was going to slow down or stop! It was like a switch went off in his head, My daughter managed to stay on (I don't know how!) and he came back to a walk, I then walked slowly over to him and he fuc*ed off again before I got there, sending my daughter flying in to a post and rail fence and landing on her head knocking her unconscious for a few seconds. 6 hours, lots of bruising and a CT scan later they are keeping her in hospital for obs, I'm distraught, I feel likes it's my fault and kicking myself thinking what I could have done to prevent it happening, I feel physically sick to think how much worse it could have been. I don't know what I'm asking really, just wanted to vent, my first thing is to get his teeth and back etc checked to rule out pain but I honestly don't think I'm going to let my daughter get back on him, would you contact the previous owner? I know she'll just deny it happed with them, I'm just feeling numb and helpless right now :'(

OP posts:
karmalama · 04/02/2023 22:15

Oh poor you and poor poor dd.
I'm so sorry this happened to you .
Did you buy privately or from a dealer as that makes a big difference.
What are the little things that have been bothering you ?

NeverTrustAPoliceman · 04/02/2023 22:15

I have no idea about horses or ponies but this came up on Active so just here to give you a hug.

You sound as though you did everything possible, it's not your fault. I hope your DD is OK in the morning and isn't put off riding.

EnglishRain · 04/02/2023 22:21

That's awful OP, I hope your daughter is OK. Sounds terrifying.

I would contact previous owners and say this has happened and you want to know whether anything like this has happened before, was it down to teeth or something they could pinpoint. Try not to be all guns blazing because I think it would be valuable to have information. He could have done it twice before and the saddle been a bad fit and they didn't mention because they thought it was a random occurrence (not to say that's right).

One thing from your post, was it one of his fields he is turned out in your daughter was riding in, or a field with other horses in sight? I have found that horses and ponies can be shitheads in their own paddock or near others. I'm sure some are fine but some will act like big idiots, and I generally wouldn't get on one in its own field after the amount of times a TB x dicked me about despite his owner telling me he'd be fine Hmm

EnglishRain · 04/02/2023 22:23

The way he did it again when you went near him makes me think he's a cheeky little shit and was being cocky in his field. That's my gut instinct. But obviously all I am going off is your post. Sounds like he fancied having a right good time and thought your daughter would be unlikely to stop him, whereas knew if you got hold of him the fun was over, so to speak.

Cuppasoupmonster · 04/02/2023 22:26

Not your fault OP, sounds like you did your due diligence but this was just one of those freak things. Hope you’re both okay, I wouldn’t make any sudden decisions while you’re both still so shaken.

LoobyLou2709 · 04/02/2023 22:27

@karmalama thank you, I'm so upset, we purchased him privately, she had owned him for 18 months and basically taught her daughter to ride, I also had a reference from the owner before her, both sold due to child being ready to move on to the next stage and wanting to jump higher. The little things are just loading was an issue but we've really worked on this now and he's fine, he annoyingly nudges you quite hard when putting the bridle on or brushing his face (more annoying for dd rather than me as it knocked her over the first time!) and he has put in a few stops jumping (only 30/40cm!), which is making me think pain related maybe, he's still in all the tack he came with so I haven't changed anything. I'm racking my brains to think if I've noticed any red flags but I can't! He's been out to a little dressage comp last week and was good!

OP posts:
Peekingovertheparapet · 04/02/2023 22:31

18 months ownership would make me a bit nervous. But yes, start with all the usual things about pain, and don’t ride him in his paddock

badgergirly · 04/02/2023 22:31

I hope your daughter is ok and try not to beat yourself up over it.

There's no such thing as a bomb proof pony or horse. They are an animal at the end of the day and have their own minds, feelings and are very unpredictable.

There's an old saying " if you don't want to fall off, don't get on " and it's true.

You must be worried sick. I would take this as a warning and decide carefully about what to do regarding keeping him and riding again.

Maybe ask your daughter what she thinks when she's feeling better?

Lots of love x

karmalama · 04/02/2023 22:33

Doesn't sound like there was escalating bad behaviour then, you know the way that cheeky ponies push the boundaries to see what the limits are.
He obviously doesn't have a bad reputation then.
I wonder if something really spooked him that you couldn't see? My horse bolted once as he got his leg caught in a bit of electric tape and thought it was a snake, he could have been stung, something jumped out on him ?
It does sound out of character.
I think I would have a chat with the people you bought him from, see if they have anything to say.
Get him checked out, dentist, saddler, physio
Then maybe go right back to basics, controlled environment in the school, hacking on lead rein etc.
Completely understand it may be hard to trust him again though.

LoobyLou2709 · 04/02/2023 22:36

Thank you for your replies, yes it was in our field but not in where he actually grazes, he's sectioned off in part of it, so we school in the other side, all the others were in, he has ridden around the field before no problem but I was leading him on foot just to make sure all was ok, and he was fine! Hence why I let them go solo today.

OP posts:
notsosoftanymore · 04/02/2023 22:36

Three months isn't long for a new pony and my, long ago, experience was that most ponies will try it on at first and see what they can get away with. Bolting is horrible though and a real vice, I would ask the previous owners and hope that they are honest. If they liked the pony they may even take him back rather than see him go to a home that might not be right.

Does you daughter still have lessons? I imagine she is going to be nervous and will need help when/if she gets back on and if she isn't naturally brave (and not all of us are), it may be that the pony will try again because he will sense her nervousness and what he can get away with. It's ok to decide that despite your copious investigations, the partnership isn't going to work out.

We once had a bomb proof Welsh Mountain pony who was lovely but naughty and I'll never forget the time she took off (never did it before or after) with a novice boy and swerved under low hanging branches. I think she didn't like him and how he was riding and was trying to get rid of him, little monkey.

I'd get help from an instructor or someone like a local Pony Club person if there is one. Hope your daughter is ok, and you, all the best.

shallibuyahouse · 04/02/2023 22:38

Sounds like an unfortunate situation, and sounds like you did everything you possibly could.
He may be a bit unsettled - he has moved a few times in the last few years and may have been a bit spooked by something, even a shadow!

Hooveslikejagger · 04/02/2023 22:41

What a nightmare for you.

Was he spooked at all? Do you suspect any pain anywhere?

What are the little niggles you’ve had with him since you’ve had him?

What is his workload/routine/feed like now compared to his previous life?
There is a huge difference in the energy levels of a horse that’s on limited turnout and little exercise and one that’s turned out 12 plus hours a day and worked properly (ime).

Once you get him checked over, and if he is ok, maybe get a more confident rider to ride the same route with him. I’d be having a good look at feed, turnout and work levels if he is a genuine pony.

I don’t know if I’d bother with the previous owner, depends how genuine you feel they were. Was it private or dealer? Are they local to you? I’d be putting my energy into finding the solution, or selling on to an appropriate home.

UrsulaPandress · 04/02/2023 22:42

Your poor DD and poor you. But, horses are unpredictable, spring is coming, who knows 🤷‍♀️

Hope it doesn’t put your DD off.

Mrbay · 04/02/2023 22:46

I'm really sorry that your daughter got hurt and I wish her a speedy recovery.

If he stopped at the fence or went around the field, it wasn't a true bolt. When a horse bolts, its blind panic and they don't stop for anything.

Sounds like he was enjoying himself, having his first taste of freedom for a while. Rather than pain or ill fitting tack. Most ponies know to put in a good buck, head down and child is off - takes no effort for them.

Has your daughter ridden in an open field before? Has she learnt the one rein stop and is she able to stick when when doing a tight turn?

Depending on the pony's size, could you get an older child on them to school them on field manners?

LoobyLou2709 · 04/02/2023 22:51

Thank you for all the replies and kind comments, yes she still has lessons, and is a (relatively new) member of the pony club, so will definitely be chatting with her instructor next week. I thought also that 18 months was a short time but they were showjumpers and her daughter was keen to move up the heights, this pony happily jumps up to 50 and that was fine with us as we were just looking for one to gain confidence.
Definitely won't be riding in the field again, he's a native so could carry a bit of weight so I might (after all the checks) see if I can find an experienced older child or small adult to work with him a bit,. Although it was a private sell, I don't think they would have him back and to be honest I know they will just say it didn't happen with them

OP posts:
villainousbroodmare · 04/02/2023 22:53

As PP says, he ran off with her as opposed to a panicky blind flee. Twice. Obv check out pain etc etc and look at sending him for reschooling assuming all okay. Hope your girl makes a great recovery.

iloveruby · 04/02/2023 23:02

Firstly, I'm so sorry that this happened to you and your daughter - it sounds really very scary and from the sounds of it you've done everything right so far with him.

The one thing I would question is whether this was a true bolt or him just taking off in high spirits and not stopping. The running away when he saw you approaching sounds similar to what horses do when they don't want to be caught etc.

My understanding of a true bolt is a blind panic where they will literally run through fences, into traffic etc. How was he when you caught him? Was he worried or shaken at all? If not, then it may not have been a bolt?

This isn't to minimise what has happened but should inform what steps you take.

How much turnout does he currently have? What is the grazing like? Does he have field companions to play with? How much exercise is he getting? The mild weather has made the grass much more "spring-like" and my horses have been blasting round the fields recently.

Think the back, tack, teeth approach is a really good place to start. If there is nothing physical that you can identify, then do you know any small competent adults who would be able to ride him to get a feel for whether it was exuberance, cheek or worry etc? (Obviously giving them the full story first!) Does your daughter have an instructor who could advise?

Hope you get to the bottom of this and most importantly your daughter is ok.

iloveruby · 04/02/2023 23:03

@Mrbay cross-posted with you!

Calmate · 04/02/2023 23:12

@LoobyLou2709
I am so sorry this has happened, but I would insist on a refund for this pony and send him back. The fact that your DD is in hospital is enough of a reason, as she sounds like a competent rider. There would be trust issues now, I wouldn't put the youngster back on the pony, and hope she fully recovers. Best wishes

LoobyLou2709 · 04/02/2023 23:15

Yes she has ridden in an open field before, but she is still novice, this field is 5 acres and pretty square with high hedges as the boundary on 3 sides and the post and rail at the front, by our house and stables, he was going around the field, and was aiming for the fence when she fell as at the last minute shot left instead of going through it. couldn't catch him after so left him for about 20 mins whilst sorting dd out, he was stood there with his head held high, finally caught him with some feed and he was a bit on edge,

He lives out 24 hours on good dry grazing with company, but is restricted and I move the electric fence daily so he did have some new grass this morning, he's only on hay and a multi vit and chaff as only in light work 2 days at the minute due to winter/light etc.
Thank you for all the advice, have had a good read through and will get all the checks done and look in to getting some schooling or an experienced small adult to ride him, just to rule out anything!

OP posts:
GettingItOutThere · 04/02/2023 23:15

have you had his back/teeth etc checked since owning him?

Sounds like a bit too strong for your daughter? Can you get him checked out and get a strong competent person on him when in the field?

StillWantingADog · 04/02/2023 23:17

I know nothing about ponies at all but I am pleased it seems like your daughter is ok. You have both had a terrible shock and need to recover from that. I’m sure once everyone has had a good (few) nights’ sleep it will be easier to think rationally about what to do next.

underneaththeash · 04/02/2023 23:18

there’s an intrinsic danger riding on a horse. It’s a risk you take.

LoobyLou2709 · 04/02/2023 23:18

GettingItOutThere · 04/02/2023 23:15

have you had his back/teeth etc checked since owning him?

Sounds like a bit too strong for your daughter? Can you get him checked out and get a strong competent person on him when in the field?

Thank you, no haven't yet as only had him 4 months, but I will be doing that and getting it sorted next week!
He's not strong at all, he's a laid back lad and more kick along! Proper first pony ideal confidence giver, this is totally out of character!

OP posts:
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