On Sunday after the Expo it rained all day so I wasn't able to ride until Monday. I caught Lily in the field, trimmed her feet and tacked her up in the barn with the Alta and the new S-hack that I kept meaning to try on her.
|This is how you DON'T adjust an S-hackamore. The noseband was on its tightest setting but still too loose. This is pretty high on her nose as a result: I wanted there to be some sort of chain action if I needed it.|
|Correct adjustment of an S-hack with an appropriately sized noseband. Photo from here. You want it to sit on the bones of the nose (too low and it will sit on the nose cartilage, which can create breathing issues when pressure is applied). Bottom shank of the S-hack should be close to the mouth, giving the appearance of there being a bit when observed at a glance. Note how differently this sits on this horse's face when compared to the S-hack on Lily above.|
I also want you to appreciate how much my TB's face shape resembles this Arab's! :)
I also tied the new 10' lead rope around her neck for the second part of the experiment!
Despite the S-hack being too big with the current noseband, I had no problems steering, stopping or doing reinbacks with Lily with minimal contact and either direct-reining with both hands or neck-reining with one hand. So I moved on to phase 2, which was using the lead rope as a neck rope only! (My regular reins were draped over the saddle pommel in case I needed them.)
Lily's steering was not as sharp as with the hackamore but I could certainly get her to turn, circle and even do some side-passing with just the rope around her neck. All at the walk. Braking was nonexistent with the rope alone, but she stopped if I engaged my seat and requested a verbal "Whoa". So. freaking. cool!
I was grinning from ear-to-ear after about 10 minutes of work with the neck rope alone. I then removed the rope and went back to the S-hack. We worked on trot and a couple of canter sets and Lily was absolutely wonderful, especially given the fact that she was being worked bitless on a loose rein like you would a Western horse. I was SO proud of her!!
Up next was Gracie. I tacked her up with the French link snaffle bit and hopped on bareback. She curled her neck and balled up initially, almost like she was thinking about bucking, but I asked her to walk out and stretch, and then worked on alternately walking and halting and she relaxed. I was soooo tempted to ask her to gait or trot but the footing was muck and I decided to not risk it. She relaxed and was SUCH a good girl. I worked on some of the stuff from Liz Grave's presentation at the Expo, doing some light lateral poll flexions (shoulder-fore), circling with a correct bend through her body and figure 8s, and G-mare was completely receptive to all of this.
I would also halt and then ask her to back up by tapping her shoulders with my feet. Wouldn't you know it?! She backed up SO much easier than when requested with the reins and seat! I had to repeat it a couple of times to make sure it wasn't a fluke!
We ended up riding for a good 30 minutes and I was SO happy with her! Another great bareback ride on Gracie. :)
|The dusting of snow that we had on Tuesday. It sadly didn't stick!|