Saturday, March 31, 2012


I've continued to read through Martin Black's book, and I spent quite a bit of time reading about doubling.  I've encountered it before in his work and by others, but I never fully took the time to understand how it works.  I'm certain I haven't got it all down just yet, but today I put some of it into practice while Bear and I were trotting around on the second strip.

It was cooler than it has been recently, and I was kind of expecting our guys to be a little frisky.  That wasn't the case at all.  The guys were a little tired, Bear especially.  I don't think he was sore at all, which is good, but he was definitely stiff when I'd ask him to flex or bend to the right.  He wasn't bothered by me asking; I just had to be very patient to wait for him to respond.  He was also just feeling lethargic underneath me.  I think some of this will change as they are out in the medium pasture now.  This is over a month ahead of what is normal; it has really been a crazy winter and spring weather wise.

I was trying to move away from Robin while she was snapping photos and Bear was giving me a great soft-feel and side pass. You can also see my feet are lower than usual, which mean's Bear is thinner than normal.
We did some nice warming up on the strip with some serpentines and work at circles.  I found a new horse blog the other day, and when I was reading through her stuff I came across a great post about working in a circle.  During a few rides the last week I spent what I thought was a lot of time going in circles.  Sometimes I worried I was over doing it, but now I feel pretty confident that wasn't the case.

Then we wandered over to the second strip and worked on our trotting, and when Bear would charge forward more than I wanted, I would practice my doubling.  When I first encountered doubling I thought it was just another term for a one-rein stop.  Not so, though they are similar.  The one-rein stop is more of an emergency brake, whereas doubling involves a similar pull to one side of the mouth, the goal is not to stop the horse but merely take away the drive from their hind end.  You don't even want to untrack the hindquarters (though you certainly could if you needed, to).  Instead you want to keep the horse moving forward.

It is easy to do, but it is not easy to do well.  Ideally you would time the doubling with the moment the horse's hind foot is coming off the ground so that your pull redirects that foot.  I've been getting better at understanding where Bear's feet are when I ride, and I'm consistently nailing my diagonals when I post a trot, but adding in the doubling I think I was only timing it right maybe 60 percent of the time.

The beauty of it is that it works no matter what.  Even if the timing is off you disrupt the horse's forward motion and give them a reason to slow down and think.  Doing it with the correct timing makes it work better, and you are also making great strides into keeping your horse soft and responsive.  So I am definitely going to keep working on it.

We spent a little while just hanging out today.

I was lucky in that Bear was quite a bit more sluggish than he has been the past month.  So I'll be curious to see how things go when he is a little more fresh.


  1. Brian. Thanks for visiting my blog.
    Martin Black is a great horseman. Had the pleasure of watching him and Buck, Paul Dietz, Buster McLaury and others at Ray Hunt's memorial clinic in 2010.
    Keep working at your horsemanship and searching. It keeps getting better!
    Best wishes,
    Suzanne Hodges

  2. Thanks, Suzanne. It has definitely been getting better and better. Of course sometimes it gets harder, too, but that is part of the fun of it.