Saturday, July 7, 2012

Returning to the Hackamore

This was one of the earliest mornings we were able to get to the barn.  Unfortunately it was also one of the hottest days of the year in what has been a very hot year.  Still, we had a good ride.

Recently Robin and I had watched Martin Black's video, The Hackamore.  Martin is one of my favorite trainers, and it was great to see some of the exercises he uses to get horses going in the hackamore.  I had ordered one a couple months ago after having such a good time borrowing Robin's, but then I spent many weeks continuing to work on things in the snaffle.  And I will no doubt keep revisiting the snaffle to work on things, but for the moment I'm thinking of giving the hackamore a go for a little while.

We rode in the treed lot and enjoyed some of the shade.  Robin was having a good time on Laredo, and Bear and I settled into feeling out our new hackamore.  Bear is definitely a horse that gets very used to his job, so when things change, he is often a little put out.  With the hackamore on, this translated into a whole lot more energy mixed with moments of extreme tireds.  Basically it forced Bear to think a whole lot more than he usually has to.

There was some rough trotting and some head tossing, but at other times he would settle in and remember that the riding was really the same even if the head gear had changed.  Our backing was unbelievably fantastic.  I couldn't believe how light I could work the reins when I released with each step.  It seemed to allow him to collect a lot but also remain soft.

One big thing I learned in the video was doubling.  I had read about this in other works of Martin's, but I definitely didn't fully understand it.  Watching him work on exercises that introduce the horse to the hackamore and understanding why they work, and then seeing a full demonstration of doubling really helped me out.  So when Bear and I were working on some trotting and he would get a little bouncy and excited, I knew exactly what to do to bring him back down.  And I was able to do it with a calm confidence that kept us both happy and relaxed.

So I am looking forward to more rides in the hackamore.  I like how it forces me to use my body more than my hands.  And it also gave me a similar feeling to what I get when riding Laredo; a kind of new excitement that forces me to stay on my toes and ride my best.  And just like riding young Laredo is making me better, I hope the hackamore does the same. 

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