HACKAMORE TRAINING-
TURNING YOUR HORSE

By R.E. Smith


        Balance, confidence and control are three very important words in hackamore training, and three words that describe your desire when turning your running horse.

        When you get down to it there are only two types of turns.  The driving turn, when you change directions without stopping the forward motion; and the rollback turn, when you stop forward motion and go in a new direction.

        A properly fitted hackamore in the hands of a balanced rider can produce an effective and appropriate turn that builds confidence and prevents injuries if a horse trips, falls or balks.

        One important issue in preparation for a turn is to go in square, with the horse's weight on his hindquarters; this is accomplished by setting the head and driving the horse with your legs.  With the horse's weight on the hindquarters, the front end is lighter which allows the horse to respond to the cue.

        In a driving turn, the rider stays back…don't lean forward.  Stay square so your hand cue will assist your horse.

        Look in the direction of the turn.  For a left turn, look to the left, put a pound of weight into the stirrup without touching the left side of the horse, lift the left rein and pull back toward your saddle horn, tap your horse's right side with your right heel and squeeze your rear pockets together.

        As your horse's nose is pointed in the direction you desire, release all the cues.

        The more hip cue (squeezing your rear pockets together) the tighter the turn will be.

        If done properly, several positive things take place.  By looking in the direction of the turn and staying back, you do not transfer weight onto your horse's left front shoulder.  By putting weight into your stirrup, the centrifugal force is not going to push you off balance.  By lifting the left rein you lift the horse's left shoulder giving him the ability to say square and balanced.  By pulling back toward the saddle horn you transfer weight to the rear hip and push around the corner.  And finally, since horses move away from pressure, your right heels acts as an accelerator because a dynamic cue gets a dynamic response.

        The rollback is done a bit more aggressively.  All horses will do a rollback when you turn them loose in an arena. 

        They run toward the arena wall, drop their hindquarters and slide to a stop.  As they turn their feet come off the ground and they point their nose in the direction they want to go.  They make the turn with their hind feet planted in the ground.

        A hackamore horse and rider can complete a rollback turn balanced and controlled by using the basic cues of other maneuvers.

        To build a good rollback turn, break down the elements that create the turn.

        Start by driving the horse forward with your hip.  Stay square and back in the saddle.  Set the horse's head forward and in a balanced position.  Build a consistently square stop followed by two steps backward.

        With his weight on his hindquarters, use the same technique you used on the driving turn with a more dynamic cue using your outside heel and inside hand.

        The beauty of the hackamore is we teach our horses to respond to cues correctly, consistently and with confidence.




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