Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Loping in the Hackamore

It was an interesting day at the barn. It was mucky out in the pasture, and Bear wasn't about to spare Brian a trek through the mud. Steen wasn't in the super sticky area, though, and came to me pretty easily, so we beat Brian and Bear inside by a good deal. I was mounted before Brian even started grooming, so I was thinking I might make up a bit of time on him.

Steen was in a mellow, friendly mood. I climbed on and he just felt good. He was mostly soft to the hackamore and quite relaxed and we started out the ride with all our usual stuff. I was getting the soft feel nicely at the walk, but not so much at the trot. I was enjoying the new suppleness in my mecate, and he seemed pretty relaxed about the bosal, so perhaps my work on them did some good.

I've been trying to stay focused on being soft in the hackamore, so today I was spending a lot of time thinking about my seat. I moved through a lot of exercises trying to keep my hands on the reins to a minimum, and Steen was totally tuned in. Even when I moved him through some short serpentines he was soft and willing to bend at the tap of my foot on his shoulder. It was neat.

We also spent a lot of time backing. I've been trying to get both speed and precision while moving backwards, and that's a bit of a tall order, but Steen is catching on. Here you can see him collected and moving back with a forefoot. Believe it or not I have very little pressure on the reins.

Finally things had been going well for long enough that I thought  a lope was in order. This was my first lope in the hackamore, and my main goal was not to traumatize Steen. I know he's not soft enough to the hackamore yet to ask him for collection at the lope yet, but I wanted to let him move a bit, so when he was feeling nice and balanced at the trot I just pushed him up to the lope.

And I have to say it was a fabulous lope. Part of it, I think, was my desire not to lean, pull, yank or drag on the reins. I was intent on using just my seat to guide him, and he was listening.

 He moved around with his head low and his entire demeanor utterly relaxed. I went around the arena a few times and brought him down to the trot with just a verbal cue (which I'm trying to stop using but this was a special occasion) and a shift of my seat, and then we moved off in the other direction. That was his worse way, but it still felt pretty good.

When I stopped loping Brian was ready for a go, and I ended up leaving the arena to get a dog out of his way. But it was fine. Steen and I had a great ride and I'm more and more excited to continue refining our communication in the hackamore. Which is good because there is a high chance I'll be working on this for the rest of my life. :)

Ride Time: 1:05
Horseback hours YTD: 104:55

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