A Pretty Good Week

I finally got to ride Cider again, it had been 6 weeks since my last ride on her.

Since I really wanted Cider's opinion on the Fager “Oscar” double-jointed “front lock” copper lozenge bar relief titanium snaffle, the one that Bingo did not seem to like too much, I was very happy. Shannon's grass ring was damp, but just walking on it did not cause damage. This gave me plenty of time to let Cider explore the bit with her tongue and start making up her mind about the bit.

Cider was moving quite well and could devote her attention to her new bit instead of the obvious arthritic twinges. She reached readily into contact in response to my legs. I did not really like the feel of the front lock, either in my hand or on Bingo, but on Cider the bit felt fine for keeping contact and her mouth was light and responsive. She stopped better, and did not show any anxiety about this bit. I couldn't really ask for straightness as we had to meander a bit to keep to the firmer areas of the ring.

Since Debbie had gotten after me about my two-point, in that I could not seem to get my crotch out of the saddle, I have been “practicing” my two-point position at home a little bit, like holding it 10 seconds a day. At home I noticed that my front-to-back balance is not steady at all as I swayed back and forth some. But when I did two-point on Cider I could finally get my full seat out of the saddle and I was strong enough to stay up and my front-to-back balance felt normal.

Shannon warned me that Cider may take up to three rides before she tells us her final conclusion about this bit, but this is one of the best “first rides” with a new bit that I've had with Cider over the years. I did not feel the usual “I really don't know about this” that I've had with other bits except for the Wellep bits and the Fager “Lilly” single-jointed titanium snaffle. Whew! These bits are expensive and I want to be able to use them on the horses I ride.

When I woke up on Wednesday the weather was sort of doubtful, very cloudy, sort of warm with spates of rain. Since the weather forecast predicted even rainier weather the next few days we headed out for the stable hoping that the rain would hold off. Debbie had to towel Bingo's back before the regular grooming and Bingo was not too sure about that. Luckily for me the rain decided to avoid the barn once we got outside and I only had to deal with a few random drops as I rode. The ring's footing was not too bad though the sand was definitely damp.

Bingo is old, and is having some age related vision problems. The vet has checked his eyes and Debbie is following the prescribed treatment, but Bingo is losing his ability to see clearly when it is really dark. Debbie told me that when it gets dark now Bingo tends to park himself in one spot and not move about much. Bingo NEEDS a pasture mate to take up “seeing-eye” duties when it gets dark. Since he does not move around much at night he is really stiff when he is led into the barn. His vision is obviously worse going from the sunlight into the darker barn and he is not as good at negotiating obstacles.

As his eyes adjust to the darker barn his movement improves though he is still cautious.

Once back outside he gains confidence as he can see things better, so my main problem was to loosen his muscles up after a night of standing still. This did not take terribly long, and he started to lengthen his stride in response to my legs. It really helps me that he seems to trust the Fager Bianca bit with the roller, his mouth is so much looser and responsive in this bit and he does not get upset with my hand aids, Debbie said he did not open his mouth much at all.

I gradually got him going around the jumps in the ring and his back finally started swinging. His turns in place were tentative at first as he sorted out where his feet were, but he finally was able to do turns in place pretty decently for him. It really helped him that his bit was not worrying him, he could devote his whole attention to moving his legs instead or worrying about his tender mouth.

When I did the two-point I was again able to get my entire seat out of the saddle and keep it out of the saddle for a little while, a big improvement from my last lesson. Debbie was pleased and Bingo was able to loosen his back muscles better with my butt out of the saddle.

If this improvement continues next week I will ask Debbie again about going back to the double bridle. I have the double-jointed (lozenge) Fager “Madeleine” fixed ring bradoon and I want to see if Bingo goes better with it than in the single-jointed bradoon. If he does not improve terribly much I will think about using the “Bianca” bit he likes so much as a bradoon, with the larger rings it will look odd but this bit really seems to relax his tongue and lower jaw.

I was so glad I rode on Wednesday. On Thursday we were under tornado watches, the wind was blowing hard, and it rained really, really hard. Thursday night I called Debbie to cancel my homework ride, there was so much rain I saw no way that the riding ring would drain enough overnight to withstand even my slow walks. It rained some more Thursday night, and Friday morning it was REALLY windy so I was glad I had canceled.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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