What psychotic horse runs AWAY from the barn?

Mine! There was a horse at a horse show I was at that tossed it’s rider and was found 2 1/2 miles down the road, away from the other 200 horses at the show. I thought that was the most oddball thing I had ever heard. Fast forward 2 years…I own a horse that does this! While leading him in or to the pasture from his stall, with no warning he bolts, runs out the front gate and down a busy road away from horses in the pasture. He goes out in solo turnout but can easily see all the other horses. He has done this 3 times and as of today, the rule is the gate must be closed in order to bring him in or out of the pasture. What insane horse does this? He is a 17 year old successful jumper Holsteiner who is coming down off his 4’6" career. Maybe I need to jump him higher to burn off some of this!

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He had a nose chain when the most recent incident happened and now we have moved to a lip chain.

I’ve seen it happen a few times… one similar at a horse show where the horse ran through the nearby town and out by the highway a few miles away. One at my first barn where a horse ran down the driveway and crossed the road to empty fields. One at my current barn that broke the cross ties and ran off into the dark and had us all out searching with flashlights. Sometimes they just lose their mind entirely and are running completely mentally blind with no thoughts of safe space, the herd, or anything other than fleeing.


My friend’s horse did this last year. He is a 100% broke all arounder who is too smart for his own good. He got away from her and rather than heading into the barn, he went down the 8th of a mile driveway ignoring all the tasty grass on either side, stopped and looked both ways before crossing the street, and went into the abandoned field to eat. She followed him at a walk and “caught” the wild cow who was quite pleased with his new patch of grass.

Mine did this earlier this year. I was at a xc schooling and was just standing holding him when out of the blue, he ripped away from me and took off down the trail. Caught up to him where he was standing eating grass and let me catch him without incident. I have no idea what set him off.
Kind of a funny story, I had a Morgan gelding who was too smart for his own good. DH and I are coming home from dinner one night and there’s my horse walking down the side of the road like he’s out for an evening stroll. Not grazing but just walking along. He had learned how to let himself out of his stall/paddock so took advantage of the situation. I hopped out and used DH’s belt to lead him home. Luckily he didn’t get far.

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At my former barn. Goofy Morgan gelding dumped his rider at the mounting block and ran a mile away into the field. Horse had a screw loose as did his owner. Horse never had a bit in his mouth, not trained to stand for farrier, went ballistic when the vet came near him, would pass out during saddling, wouldn’t stand on cross ties.

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I’ve seen this happen away from home. Twice at the same venue actually. Rider came off on cross-country. Instead of running towards warm-up, or the trailers, or the stabling, both horses picked random paths in the woods and headed away from the event.

I saw this at a UNH dressage show some years ago. Horse in warm-up spooked, dumped the rider, and headed for the nearby highway. No idea why.

I note the number of these incidents involving Morgan geldings :grin:

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My friend and I were riding in a county forest, and after ride, her Rocky Mountain gelding took off as she had taken off his bridle and was haltering him. He calmly trotted away from companion and trailers, and we lost him in the forest. After trying to find him for about 90 minutes, a cowboy type turned up and more or less said “don’t you worry your pretty heads, little ladies, I’ll fetch him for you”. Mr Cowboy tracked and found him but couldn’t catch him, loose horse wouldn’t follow. Cowboy actually roped him and there was apparently a little rodeo trying to bring him back (Cowboy got lost too but that’s another story). Rocky did this on another occasion when friend dropped lead momentarily, and attempted a few other times. He now always wears halter under his bridle!


Evil Burrito would, given a smidge of a chance. If he can get out by himself, away he goes, figs to everyone else screaming or braying at the barn (he is the barn mascot of course, so everyone and I mean EVERYONE loses their minds even when he just comes out for the farrier :roll_eyes:).


Experienced horse friend was boarding a ka-razy high end horse for the winter. Horse was totally unpredictable such as ONLY friend would turn out, feed, etc. He spooked with his owner one day and yes, ran away from the farm, down the road about a half mile where there were no other horses.
She had him moved out within the month.

He’s a smart talented jumper. It just seems this behavior goes against nature and safety in numbers for prey animals.

Or teach him some manners. :roll_eyes:

I understand he’s an older horse at age 17, but I personally would not tolerate that. So he’s being lead and he’s bursting away from the handler and running away? Very dangerous, in my opinion. Granted, I’m sure he’s had 17 years of allowed bad behavior to do this.

Horses will run where they want, whether it’s back to their buddies, or out and away, but I guess what struck me from your post is that he’s doing this.

While it happens, it is pretty rare for their to be no warning bells whatsoever. It could be something as small as the horse invading your personal bubble, but a ground manners problem is a ground manners problem. Energy levels is a consideration but never an excuse for bad behavior (since you spoke of jumping him harder to alleviate the problem… which of course will not work.)



Agreed. Use two lead ropes, maybe even three at first. I did this with a big Hannovarian mare who had a nasty habit of bolting into the pasture the moment you unsnapped the lead. The first time I had hold of a second lead she was very surprised. I realize this isn’t exactly the same situation. I don’t like leads with chains, but in your situation I would put at least two chain leads on, one over the nose (wrapped through the halter nosepiece) and one lip chain. Be prepared to hang on tight.


I can only imagine the noise level. :smiley:

I would love to teach him manners but it comes out of the blue and is very deliberate. He’s very smart. You are quietly leading up and you have 3/4 of a second to react. You are not holding him or you will be drug. But 99% of the time he is quiet with his head down. What is disturbing is not that he is bolting, it’s that he intentionally runs off the property.

lead with a longe line, so that 3/4 of a second to react becomes 2-3 seconds before the rope is out of your hands. And with a horse like that, there’s no such thing as “quietly leading”-- obviously the handler will need to be on high alert. And add a perimeter fence.


Yes this! There’s been a fair number of horses that have come to the barn I work at with this problem. The second they hear the chain moving through the metal squares in their halter they bolt. Dangerous for the human, dangerous for the horse (I envision the leadrope clip hitting them in the eye or something). I’ve started leading these horses out with a leadrope and a lunge line attached to them. When I undo one, surprise, they’re still attached to me. I haven’t needed a lip chain yet, but they lead with a chain over their nose. I’ve also been rewarding standing still with a carrot… there are a few “reformed” ones that get a carrot before the lead is unsnapped and a carrot after, and they know that is the routine. Not ideal, but no more bolting.

Ok, I’ll be the jerk that says it:

You seem to have had a lot of horses with “chronic” behavior problems.

The problem is likely you. I’d invest in some groundwork training, as well as how to introduce a horse to something they’re scared of. Can’t hurt, right?


It should be disturbing that he bolts. If he didn’t bolt, he wouldn’t run off the property.