Riding with Draped Reins

Lightness is everything to a “Hackamore man.” You see, when working cattle a’horseback, you have so many things to do with your hands you really can’t be riding with two hands on the reins. There are times that the reins of an experienced ranch horse may lie loose across the saddle, or they may even be gripped in the riders teeth! The Hackamore, or vaquero method of horse training relies on helping a horse find its balance, then teaching it a system of signals. These signals come from the riders seat bones and legs, with a few voice commands. Balance and signal; that’s the vaquero School, and the reason Buck was always hollering at me “don’t hang on his head!”
The school of Klimke, Von Neindorf, Oliveira, and Baucher is no different. It is called the French Classical school. It is a school of lightness. There is no piano- wire connection between riders hands and horses mouth. The depictions of De la Gueriniere frequently show draped reins on a horse in full collection! The communication in the classical schools is with seat bone weighting, leg position, and “demi arrets” or half halts on the reins, to keep the horse in balance. Hence, when you explore a deeper understanding of classical equitation you’ll find no difference between that and vaquero horsemanship well done. That’s where you see history, written in the calloused handwriting of “knights” of the sagebrush, mesquite and Jack Pine, with a pen of braided rawhide!

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