Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Another Day in the Hackamore

I rode in the hackamore again.  I wasn't planning on it.  I thought for sure we would ride in the snaffle again and that Robin would be using the hackamore.  She has talked about getting back to it a little more regularly.  But she also got some new boots for Steen, and she wanted to have a ride where they really loped a lot, and she'd feel a lot more comfortable doing that in the snaffle.

So knowing that I had an awesome ride in the hackamore yesterday, Robin offered it to me.  And I accepted. 

Of course we didn't have nearly the good ride we had yesterday.  That is how these things seem to go, right?  But all in all, it was a rather decent ride.  And in many ways I pushed him much harder than I did yesterday.  There were more distractions (mostly in the form of Steen), and we did not spend nearly as much time just hanging out and getting the feel for the hackamore.  Today I moved in and out of exercises at a pretty rapid pace.

The one thing that was consistently awesome today and yesterday was our stops (actually, our backs were amazing, too).  Bear is generally quite good at stopping, but with the hackamore on it seems that he is even more willing to stop.  This would make perfect sense in that one can apply an awful lot of force to a rather tender spot on the nose.  But from the walk and trot I was asking for a stop just with my seat.  I knew I could possibly pull too hard on the reins, so I didn't even bring them into play. 

You can see I am using the reins a little more here.  Coming down from the lope I would pick up a soft feel before the stop.
Our flexes, serpentines, and circles were all tremendous.   And just like yesterday, he was extremely sensitive to my legs as I directed him around the strip. So where were the problems, you might ask. 

Well, he was less attentive to me overall.  He seemed just a little spacey.  More inclined to check out.  And then there was the loping in the hackamore.  We didn't lope yesterday.  Today  I decided to try it for two somewhat opposing reasons.  One, he was exceptionally quiet and almost felt sluggish at the trot and I figured he'd give me a nice, relaxed lope.  Two, he was sluggish and inattentive and I hoped the lope might serve to wake him up.

Lucky me, I got both outcomes.  We started with a super relaxed lope.  Both Bear and I were very comfortable.  I had him on a loose rein, and he was having fun and listening to my legs.

Then things went a little downhill.  For some reason he started to stiffen up and stop listening to my legs.  On a few occasions he started running right down the strip instead of turn in the nice oval-ish pattern we were running.  It was not like he was running away with me; we were mostly controlled.  But he was stiff and not listening, and it was a significantly bigger and more disjointed lope.

After a few not so great minutes of loping I decided to end it.  I thought I might get back to it later, but we never did.  Instead we went right back into doing serpentines and circles.  I wanted to get him listening to my legs and not making his own decisions.  He was totally great with these.  We moved back into some trotting in various patterns, and again, he was great.

So overall it was a pretty good hackamore ride.  I guess it was just that yesterday's was so much better.  But I am in no way discouraged by how things went.  If anything, I want to keep getting back out there with the hackamore.  I've read of a couple people who have had great success livening and softening up older horses with them.  Bear and I have been doing well in that regard these last few months, but perhaps moving into the hackamore a little more regularly later in the spring or summer could be a good challenge for both of us.

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