Bingo Reverts to His Old Habits
Because of the cold my riding schedule got messed up. Wednesday morning it was 19°F at the stable, I had already rescheduled my lesson because of the weather forecast. Debbie was willing to give me a lesson on Thursday morning, but then Debbie called me about how she had to baby-sit her grandson unexpectedly. So I got to ride Mia on Thursday which was fine with me since I love dealing with Mia.
As an experiment I have started using the neck hood of my Amigo Fly Rider fly sheets during the cold, windy days. Cider really likes this so I decided to try it out on Debbie's horses. Since I did not want to have to put three exercise sheets on them, I got some double snaps and snapped the neck piece to the dees next to the pommel of my saddle. Mia LOVED having her neck covered, apparently the mesh cuts the strength of the wind on her neck. I had to use a LOT LESS leg on Thursday to keep her moving, and she was more willing just to stand around when I rested. She was not cursing me out under her breath for dragging her out into the cold wind, and she was a lot more cheerful about everything. I even made it for 30 minutes because I did not tire myself out using leg, leg, leg just to keep her moving out. I had searched for another, warmer neck cover but I had not found anything made for riding, all the other neck covers, combined with covering for the shoulders, had a girth arrangement that would have interfered with the regular girth. Since the Fly Rider is made of mesh I was not sure it would work very well with a cold wind, but for Mia it worked just enough so she felt more comfortable in the cold.
So I approached my lesson on Friday greatly encouraged, since Bingo has indicated to me that his neck has problems with the cold. But Bingo decided on Friday to show me up and he reverted to his old balking habit, the first time in three or four months. There were five things that could have triggered this: It was cold and windy, I was really tired from riding the day before, he was wearing the neck cover (though he was used to it from wearing the Fly Rider sheet in the summer), the dogs were wearing their winter blankets (one was neon orange), and there was a spade leaning against the judge's stand that had not been there before. First he started shying when we approached the judge's stand on the side where the shovel was leaning, so I worked on getting him to pass the judge's stand without shying. I was not very successful, though he went from shying several steps to the side to just shying one step. Then he fixated on the dogs, they looked so different wearing their blankets! I just concentrated on keeping him on the aids and he settled down about the dogs.
Then, having failed to discourage me with his shying, Bingo started balking and backing up. The first time I got him going without many problems, but the next time he was a bit more emphatic about backing up so I did a turn on the forehand and he stopped trying to balk. He was not happy about this, he is so used to his antics discouraging his riders when Debbie uses him in lessons. But, unfortunately for Bingo I stopped being a beginner over forty years ago, so I know how to get him moving again. I think part of the reason he thought he could get away with balking again was that I was so tired, and I did not apply my aids as well as I usually do. We spent the whole ride with Bingo looking for excuses to misbehave, with me countering every evasion. When my thirty minutes were up Bingo tried to go on strike, so he got several more minutes of work. One nice thing about Debbie is that she is NEVER willing to let a disobedient horse be rewarded by stopping work, so I get to ride a few more minutes when a horse gets antsy near the end of the lesson even if my lesson should be over.
I do not know if I will ever be able to transform Bingo into a suitable lesson horse for beginners. Since he is so badly conformed, so ugly, so small, and so unwilling to work, no one “falls in love” with him and no one ever “dreams” of being able to ride such a beautiful horse. No, no one aches to ride Bingo. Right now the only true role I can see Bingo being suitable as a beginner's horse is to use him as a mount for a rider that has progressed enough that she could benefit from learning how to counter Bingo's disobedience and evasions before being put on a more advanced horse. These are skills that every beginner needs to learn, and the beginners that learn these skills end up being much more confident as a rider.
Debbie made sure that I used the Equicube during my lesson, even though both of us had forgotten to get it in the barn. She got someone to bring it out so I could use it. I told her how much easier it was for me to do the “rider's push-ups” after using it last week, and the same thing happened this week. I even put my stirrups under the ball of my feet instead of “home”, just to see if the Equicube made a true difference in my ability to do the “rider's push-ups”. Although my lower leg was less steady, I did not have to move my whole seat forward in the saddle just so I could do this exercise. I had no problems doing multiple “rider's push-ups”, I did not feel like I was teetering in my stirrups, and it was all in all much easier on me. I was also happy to have my stirrups under the ball of my feet instead of “home.”
My main problem with the Equicube is that it is so heavy for me, I am not strong enough to carry it for much over a minute before my arms just get too tired. The amazing thing is that it still improves my riding even with me carrying it for just a minute.
I also found a nice new grooming tool this week. I had read about the “Zoom Groom” tools on the COTH forum, but I could not find them anywhere around where I live. When I was in Tractor Supply I noticed a nice looking grooming glove in the dog section, called “Retriever Palm Grooming Glove”. It has a lot more room for my hand than the Jelly Scrubbers do, one side has four pronged massage bristles and the other side had massage pins. It has holes I can put my fingers through, and the only objection I have to it is that it does not have holes to put my thumb through. Bingo ADORED being groomed with it, he started licking and chewing immediately when Debbie started grooming his back. I had bought two, and since Debbie liked the results so much I gave her one. Her Arab Tercel has really sensitive skin, and does not truly “love” the HandsOn grooming gloves like the other horses do. Debbie is hopeful that Tercel will like this new grooming glove enough so she can give him a vigorous grooming instead of just the light brushing he consents to right now. I looked up this grooming tool on the Web, and Tractor Supply is the only store carrying them. It was designed for washing dogs, so it is in the dog section. The horses seem to like it when we used it dry on their coats, so it is not just useful for washing dogs!
Debbie noted something I will pass on. Tercel had not liked the HandsOn grooming glove at all when he wore a saddle that did not fit him well, though he accepts them now that Debbie got him a saddle that fits his back. I have been scrubbing the horses backs with them after taking the saddle off, with the idea that if the saddle had been bothering their backs the horses would not like being scrubbed vigorously with the HandsOn gloves. So I guess my Pegasus Butterfly saddle works well with the horses backs because they LOVE me using the HandsOn grooming gloves vigorously after I ride, with no hints of pain or soreness. Scrubbing the horse's back with the HandsOn grooming gloves could be a cheap quick way to check to see if the saddle is bothering your horse's back, even before the horse starts misbehaving because of the pain.
Have a great ride!