We've been having a lot of beautiful weather - 70s and low 80s - so most of our riding lately has been outside, either in the outdoor arena or in the big pastures. We all enjoy being out there, so long as the flies aren't too bad, and we appreciate not being confined to our (relatively) small indoor arena. Pie becomes much more forward out there - it's a blast to trot and canter him around, since he really puts some motor into it. Red and Dawn also seem happy outside, staying responsive and soft no matter what we do.
There was some excitement at the barn today. A new boarder (actually an old boarder who came back after several years' absence - I never knew him) decided he was going to make all our lives more interesting. A whole group of horses and riders were in the outdoor arena, which is several hundred yards away from the barn across a large pasture that is used for the mares' turnout during the day. The new boarder's mare has been kept in a pen since her arrival, and hasn't been turned out. As I was bringing Red into the indoor to mount up and then go outside to ride, the other boarder decided it would be a fine time to turn his mare out in the pasture between the barn and the outdoor arena.
Of course, the mare took off like a shot and proceeded to gallop at high speed all over the pasture, including galloping right along the shared fenceline with the outdoor arena. A number of the horses in the outdoor went crazy - one mare started rearing repeatedly and her rider had to get off. It's fortunate no one was injured. Red and I were standing together in the indoor while this was going on, and had a good view of the action - I hadn't mounted up yet. Red's head was high and his eyes were on stalks, but he kept his cool. After the mare ran around for a while, the man caught her and led her out of the pasture.
I mounted Red - he was fine and stood still as usual for mounting - and we headed outdoors to ride. As we were starting down the hill from the barn, here come two girls leading a pony and a mini back to the barn - they'd been in the outdoor. For some reason, Red decided that there was something seriously wrong about this picture, even though both the pony and the mini are in his usual turnout herd. Perhaps it was the girls leading the pony and mini, perhaps it was that the pony and mini didn't belong (in Red's mind - he's big on things being correct) where they were, or perhaps he was still worked up from the mare running around.
In any event, he did a high-speed rollback and bolted at high speed - and when he moves, he really moves - back into the indoor arena. He only went about 20 feet into the indoor, and only bolted about 75 feet in total, and wasn't hard to stop. I'd been leaning back a bit while we were going down the hill, so when he spun and bolted I had no trouble staying with him. There was one horse being lunged in there, and I called out a warning to them as we galloped in.
Horses usually bolt for one of two reasons, or a combination of them. Either they're getting to a safe distance so they can evaluate a scary situation or object, including a suddenly appearing object that they need time to assess, or they're just emotionally overwhelmed (as when a horse is very herd bound). In Red's case, he was already a bit stressed from the mare's antics, and the pony and mini appearing where he didn't expect them to be caused his circuits to pop. But I was very pleased that, unlike his earlier bolts with me last spring, he didn't just panic, but stayed at least partly with me - he was no where near as braced and stopped for me fairly easily - his bolts last spring were a lot more challenging and he travelled a lot farther before I was able to get a connection back. And this time he calmed down right away, and we went right back out on our ride, which was very satisfactory - lots of trotting and cantering around in the pastures. That was a darn good recovery on his part in my book, and I was pretty pleased with him. Staying on is also, always, a very good thing . . . I never take this for granted any more . . .