No place is horsemanship more important than in the first few rides on a colt. I was riding with some friends this last weekend and one was on a colt for only his fifth ride. We were reviewing the importance of the one rein stop. The one rein stop is an important horsemanship skill to prevent a full blown runaway. As important as it is to get a horse stopped safely it is also important to not shut down the horse’s need to move his feet.
Several of my mentors, such as Buck Brannamon and Tom Curtain, have spoken about sitting deep in the saddle and allowing the horse take the first few jumps and trusting him to stop when he realizes his life is not actually in jeopardy. They refer to this as riding the spook. If the horse is not able to regain his composure then you can raise one rein and use your leg to disengage the hindquarters to bring the horse to a stop. The one reined stop must be applied in timing with the horse’s footfalls so as not to jerk him off balance when he is moving fast.
The one reined stop should be practiced often and at all gaits before the need for it arises so it will become a natural, instinctive move. If you know you always have the one reined stop available when you need it then you can ride the spook with confidence and not shut your horse horse down unnecessarily. If you horse feels you will let him move his feet when he needs to he will be more confident.
As luck would have it, not 15 minutes after our discussion our horsemanship was tested as there arose a major commotion in the bushes right next to our path. All 3 horses bolted to the left and we looked like synchronized swimmers as we each let our horses take a few jumps and then brought them around with well timed, one reined stops. As we all watched a single buzzard rise into the air we broke into laughter. Even the horses seemed to be chuckling.
Riding the spook applies to life as well. Jesus is our one reined stop when things get out of control. The more we are in daily relationship with him the more we can ride out the spooks life hands out and be confident he will be there for us when things get out of control. For instance, the time I fell asleep at the wheel and found myself careening across lanes of traffic on 2 wheels. I called out to Jesus and felt my hands lifted off the steering wheel as it swung back and forth until the car came to a smooth stop facing the opposite way in the grassy medium of the highway. A prefect one reined stop. Madalyn