And why you should hobble break your horses.
When I first owned Nakai, I boarded him at a private residence. The owner had two horses of her own, and DIY version of wire fencing.
[ Check out the fence in the background ]
Afraid that Nakai could get caught if it ever came down and panic, I started hobble breaking him. I wanted to teach him that if he ever found himself “stuck”, all he has to do is wait quietly and someone will come get him. He took to it naturally, although he did learn that if he shuffled he could move around a bit. He would pivot and stare at me, pathetically nickering “Release me!”
One of the bonus lessons to hobbling was that it helped teach him to give to any kind of pressure immediately. Nakai will step on his lead rope, realize he’s stuck, and instead of flinging his head or trying to rip away from the pressure he will keep his head down and back off the rope. You can see his brain working, trying to figure out how he got caught and methodically try to fix it. When we got stuck in the mud at the canal and Nakai got tangled up in his reins, he stopped as soon as he felt pressure and calmly waited for Mechele to untangle him.
Last night a bunch of the ladies played tag with obstacles. Nakai loves tag – he loves to chase! I cantered away from “It” and around a little cross rail jump set diagonally. As we are rounding it I see Theone and Hawk trotting right into our path. My escape window is closing rapidly, and I swing my left leg back hard against Nakai’s flank to move his hips over and squeeze through the narrow space. Nakai rounds around my leg, Hawk makes a stinky face, I rein Nakai away from her, he lifted his front to comply and the next moment I’m hanging off Nakai’s right side, caught up on the saddle.
I close my fist and say ‘WOAH’. Nakai slams on his brakes and steps on my split reins. He lowers his head, takes a step back off them, and stops. My foot is stuck! There I am, hanging off my saddle high enough to where I could just put my right hand on the ground. Nakai’s standing as still as a statue. My hip starts to cramp. I shout “Can somebody help me?? I’m STUCK!” Marina tries to release my foot. Nope, not budging. I tell her to untack my saddle, and I plop the remaining distance to the ground, foot still wedged. She points out my spur was stuck in the giant D-ring of my flank strap. My guess is that I was gripping with my leg when I swung it back, lost my balance as I moved Nakai away, and got hung up a I started to go over.
[ You can see the flank Dring here ]
I am fortunate Nakai has a good head, but little freak moments like this can turn dangerous if you don’t have a solid foundation. If I was riding anyone else this could have ended badly, especially if they skittered into the barrels or fence with me hanging off them.