After your horse is somewhat accustomed to the lateral bitting-up, or checking, he is ready to be taught to give to the hackamore while he moves on the longe line. Consider this phase of training to be like cutting strands of rawhide before you can braid. Although not as glamorous a job as later work, it is an important job and never should be hurried. This preparatory work sets the stage for everything to come, and when done correctly, makes building a hackamore horse a little easier than it otherwise might be.
After longeing your horse several revolutions around the pen, with your horse displaying signs of willingness, ask him to stop by saying “whoa” and give a check on the longe line. If your horse stiffens in response and raises his head, he needs to be softened to the hackamore by bumping the line until he gives his nose. Assuming he has been schooled appropriately in the lateral tie-around, he should seek relief in the stop fairly readily. Continue starting and stopping in the same direction until your horse gives to a bump on the hackamore and comes to a complete halt, free of resistance.
Remember that horses are bilateral creatures. When you begin working in the opposite direction, prepare to encounter some stiffness and resistance all over again. Your horse might even behave as if the exercise is completely new to him, simply because the opposite side of his body is now being worked. Repeat the same procedures with calm authority until he demonstrates forward motion and performs stops fluidly and with similar suppleness and respect in each direction.
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This article was printed in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 8, Issue 11