Monday, June 03, 2013

A Snaffle and a Rope

One of my long-term horsemanship goals is to get handy with a rope. This is partly because I think it would be neat to work with cattle in the future, but also because using a rope adds a whole extra level of sophistication to your riding. When I watch riders who not only have perfect control and communication with their horse, but are doing everything with one hand because they have a rope in the other, I am awed.

Of course, I also see hacks leaning on their horse's mouth and causing a lot of pain and suffering to both the horse and the cow. I don't want to be one of those people. Which means I need to get competent with the rope before I ever try to use it.

The problem is, I am not a natural with ropes. It takes me like a year every time I have to learn a new knot, and in spite of my best efforts I create kinks and snags in my mecates and lead ropes all the time.

I'm getting better. I think a lot of it just has to do with paying attention. Brian has actually progressed to the point that he can throw a loop. I can't even figure out how to twirl the loop over my head without ending up with the whole thing wrapping around my wrist and hitting me in the face.

But, the only way to improve is to try. Today Brian had the rope out. After he was finished with it he offered it to me. I figured it couldn't hurt to see how Steen dealt with the coil.

Steen is good with ropes. He doesn't mind them touching him, though he still sometimes has issues with the sound they make if they're swirling fast. Brian handed me the coil and I rubbed Steen with it and he didn't care at all. Then I whacked it on my thigh so the coils rattled, and Steen wasn't as happy about that. He got a little tense.

So we worked on walking and turning and doing various other non-demanding things while I made noise with the rope. Steen was good. Other than some very minor flinching at first, he was fine. I then worked on steering him with the rope by blocking him with the coils and having him yield to them. This was trickier, but he got the idea without too much trouble. Most of our issues were my sloppiness, trying to manage the rope and my reins.

Due to the hole Steen rubbed in his nose with the hackamore while grazing on Friday, I rode in the snaffle today. I have been thinking on and off it would be interesting to check in with a bit on Steen and see how it goes anyway. It's been over a year since I rode Steen in anything but a bosal.

We finished with the rope and moved on to our more normal stuff. I have to say, I was surprised at how Steen felt today. I thought there would be some loss or fuzziness in our ability to communicate. This was not the case. Steen was SOFT, and was responding to then feel of the slobber straps to a degree I didn't even realize was possible. We worked a lot on holding collection, because I could just take a little slack out of the reins the teenist bit and he'd just tuck his nose right in and happily move along.

He was particularly light on his forehand and responsive to my legs. It was neat to feel, and also encouraging to see these tools are working for me the way they are supposed to. The point of using a bosal isn't to bypass the problem if your horse can't deal with a bit, or vice versa. That's not to say using one or the other at a particular time on a particular horse might help with a particular problem, but correct training in one should facilitate communicate in the other. So I must be doing something right.

The only thing that seemed to suffer a slight setback was (surprise, surprise) our stops. But we worked on them and they improved over the course of the ride.

Ride Time: 1:05
Horseback Hours YTD: 75:40


  1. While I learned a bit about roping as a kid (basically just how to make a loop and rope a fake cow from very, very close), I'll admit it's never really interested me all that much. However, I wish you luck on your endeavor, as it is definitely difficult to master roping while also riding a horse. :)

  2. You guys haven't posted in awhile. Everything alright?

  3. Yeah, we're good. It's just been an oddly busy stretch. We've been riding, just not blogging. Will hopefully catch up this weekend. Thanks for checking. :)


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