Monday, July 02, 2012

A Hackamore Horse?

We've had Martin Black's "The Hackamore" DVD sitting around for weeks, but fresh on the heels of the Buck clinic, we felt we had enough new ideas about riding in the snaffle to keep us busy for a while. I feel like when I have these intense periods of learning, I need some time to assimilate the new knowledge into my routine.

However, on Sunday we finally decided we needed to watch it so we could get in back in the mail and get our next video (we subscribe to GiddyUpFlix).

As usual, watching a truly accomplished equestrian work with horses is inspirational. Martin Black is so quiet and fluid in all of his handling and training. The video provided a lot of great insights into riding in the hackamore, and as does Buck does, Martin stressed the idea that riding in the hackamore will make you a better rider, and there is nothing wrong with switching between the hackamore and snaffle many times.

The heat lately has made riding in the afternoons impossible, but after the video I was keen to ride in the hackamore again. Today when Brian went to work, I headed to the barn alone. I brought Steen in and tacked him up, removing my mecate from my snaffle and tying it back onto my hackamore. We adjourned to the strip.

The first thing I did was Martin Black's pulling exercise, which is done from the ground and teaches the horse to give to the hackamore. Steen is already quite light to the hackamore, so my intention was to be gentle with this and just gauge where he was at. The first couple were mellow. The second few Steen got a little more agitated, but each time disengaged and turned around to face me without any real confusion. And after that he got so light to the hackamore I couldn't even set up the exercise fully, because he disengaged and turned to face me as soon as I put the slightest pressure on the rope.

So I hopped on. In the video, Martin Black talks a good deal about doubling, and how to use it correctly and when to use it. After the pulling exercise, Steen was clearly primed to listen to the hackamore, and he would slide to a fast stop out of any gait as soon as I took the slack out of a rein. He was light to my hands and legs the entire ride without getting over-excited and nervy like he has our last few rides.

We worked on various exercises at the walk. Our remedial work with short-serpentines and whirlygigs the last few weeks has him a lot more confident with those movements, and transitioning into doing these in the hackamore was no problem.

We moved into trotting and Steen was great, so pretty soon started transitioning in and out of the lope. Steen felt great at the lope. He was balanced and steady.

The only bummer was the heat. After 35 minutes we were both sopped with sweat and uncomfortable, so I called it a day. However, this ride was far better than the last few we've had in the snaffle. Steen was lighter, quieter, more attentive and more motivated. So I'm tempted to think we'll be doing the majority of our riding in the hackamore for the foreseeable future.

Ride Time: 0:35
Horseback hours YTD: 75:35

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