Picture this: you are with your horse friends, and it’s a gorgeous day, and a perfect time to head off for a ride. You know your horse well, and you’ve spent loads of time in the saddle with him. Fantastic! Off you go, either in the arena, around the property, or up the trail.
Then it happens.
It’s never happened before. And whatever it is (an unfamiliar object, shape, light pattern, another horse spooking, you name it), your horse PANICS, or BOLTS, or starts to BUCK. When this happens, you are betting your life, and your horse’s life, that you can stop him. You may also be panicking at this point.
This isn’t the time to worry about your brakes. How do you stop your horse? YOU CANNOT SUCCESSFULLY STOP A PANICKING HORSE BY PULLING ON HIS MOUTH OR HIS FACE.. In fact, if the horse is really scared, you will only put him in a more collected and powerful frame with which to run off with you.
YOU HAVE TO DISENGAGE THE HINDQUARTERS BY CROSSING THE HIND LEGS OVER WITH AN INDIRECT REIN. If the hind legs are crossed, the horse can’t run and he can’t buck.
Above is a photo of HQ (hindquarter) disengagement done with the correct technique. The rider is lifting up on the left rein while using her leg and body to support moving the HQ so that the left hind foot crosses over the right hind foot. She is looking back at the left HQ, and as her body turns, so does her horse’s.
If this is new to you, I strongly suggest you learn it with your horse and practice it at all speeds, going in both directions. Get so good at it that when you slide your hand down the rein and begin lifting as you begin to use leg pressure on the HQ that your horse stops without you having to do more. When you need to use HQ disengagement as an emergency stop, you’ll be much more likely to survive if you’ve practiced and prepared.
I’ll be writing more on setting up the emergency stop in coming posts. My purpose here is just to let you know just how important this is for your safety.