I had totally forgot about using a Pulley Rein. (it's been 15 years since the Pony was able to get away with taking off.. once I passed 5'8" I had the upper hand... and I haven't really had a true "bolt" since her). I hadn't forgotten about opening my rein (this worked well with P1 to help spin her out of bucking fits), but everyone's right - I certainly didn't open (or lift) my reins at all. Mostly I was in clamp-and-hold mode, which clearly doesn't encourage any sort of deescalation. In fact there are points where you see Prairie start to slow and come back, and then I increase rein pressure thinking "yahoo, she's done!" only to freak her out and have her shoot off again.
|The vast expanse or boltable-space....|
My stirrups were long - another accurate observation. And while the massive knee blocks on the Prestige prevent me from hiking up my leg too much, they were up two holes for a first ride as a defense, but I cheekily dropped them for the second ride anticipating a calmer outing and the chance to ride my tests...
Maybe if I had shorter stirrups I would have felt less "flappy" and my brain would have worked slightly quicker, but the fact of the matter is that I stayed on, stayed (sorta) balanced, and really not much else.
I did feel that toward the end of our little jaunt, I started to have the wherewithal to consider my next move. P2 feels so damn unbalanced in those moments that I have a genuine concern for cornering her too hard or going too soon to a tight circle. I think I erred on the side of caution on Saturday, and perhaps a bit more aggressive "surfing" her down would be helpful (as would an open rein in the process).
The fact of the matter is on our Friday spook/bolt at home, we ended up careening into a corner of the ring and the mare managed to sit and balance just fine on her own, so I'm guessing the fear of her slipping out from under me is more my own crap, than her actual capability.
The good news is that having ridden through two recent bolt-spooks, I am feeling progressively more confident that I have a pretty good idea of what P2 is doing when she goes off. The first few times a new horse "does something" my brain instantly thinks "oh shit," assumes the worst and wonders what hellish roller coaster I'm about to go on. With P1 I figured out her pattern of bucks and (except for that last time) stayed on and got comfortable bringing her out of it. P2's scoot/spooks feel so much bigger that I keep anticipating more malice than she has in her but have learned how to correct her out of it. The Bolt thing is a slightly different beast, but twice now she's done it and twice it's been nothing more than a tour of the available space. No crashing through fences, no massive twisting bucks, no dirty stops... just a helter-skelter flight response that I haven't defused.
So, my hope is to internalize your thoughtful observations, think through my steering next time (assuming I don't catch it early enough again) and try for a faster recovery. Also, I think we'll be looking into a running martingale for field trips to help with the extreme drama llama-ing and see what happens...