On the buckle by Don Jessop

On the buckle by Don Jessop

April 12, 2021 1 Comment

"On the buckle" is a term most often used in English riding. It means a loose and casual rein position, needing no extra support to control the horse. It got its term because English leather reins are split in the middle and come together via a simple belt buckle. 

If you join me in a clinic you'd hear me use the term every time your horse does something good. I'd say to you, "get on the buckle" or "go to the buckle, your horse needs a break." At which point, if you're a brave soul who truly trusts your horse, you'll give all the slack in the reins to the horse. At first, it seems like a vulnerable position to be in while riding. It's certainly a long way away from complete contact and micro-control riding with a short rein. If the horse spooked suddenly, you'd have to gather up your reins, and stop your horse from spinning or running off. But if you time it just right, going to the buckle operates like a massive reward to the horse. 

With my advanced riders I encourage them to practice riding on the buckle, not just while standing still, but while in the walk, trot, and ultimately canter, gallop, and even jumping on the buckle. For that kind of control you need a special kind of relationship between you and your horse. One that I can teach, one that you can aspire to. And naturally, like most things, the first step is to be on the buckle while not moving at all. Next time you feel your horse relax, ask him to stop and drop the reins. Hold onto the reins at the very end, just in case, but try to trust the horse, and yourself, to keep your wits together for a few happy moments. 

If you're ready to learn more about riding on the buckle, join me in the Mastery University. I have courses set just for learning about hands off riding. Did you know that some Native American tribes hunted buffalo while on horseback? How did they steer while shooting a bow, galloping at thirty miles per hour? The same way I'll teach you. Did you know that professional reining champions are not allowed to use their reins for steering or stopping or their score will be docked? How do they steer, spin, slide, all without their reins? I can teach you, step by step, to master the most basic moves, all the way to the most advanced. 

Naturally, there is more to riding than riding on the buckle. There is value in collected and contact riding too. You'll hear me talk about those in detail too, from time to time. You'll learn about terms like "on the bit, or on the fore hand," and many more terms. For now, I invite you to dream big about riding on the buckle.

Start small, but dream big. Can you see yourself riding with two hands on a short rein for control, then one hand on a looser rein, then one day... no hands at all? How cool would it be to be free and trust your horse to navigate through a course, down a trail, over a jump, into the canter, all without the use of your hands, leaving you the freedom to carry a flag, lead another horse, shoot a bow, raise your hands up in the embrace of a non-mechanical connection with your horse? How would you feel if, even in small steps, you could look back a month or two from now and say, "WoW! Look how far I've come! Take that first step today. Start living life on the buckle!

Join me in the masters journey. www.masteryhorsemanship.com and check out the Mastery University



1 Response

Luis Lucio
Luis Lucio

April 28, 2021

Nice article.
So powerful message about halts on the buckle.
I have been practicing and studying horse’s reaction to that message and helps them to relax and find a reason of the previous work.
Often after several times, they learn to stand still and their HR goes down immediately, understanding the meaning of breaks and giving a reason to try harder whatever next time.
Nice article, very inspiring for people to try it.
Let´s hope.
Thanks for your message.

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