Bingo Tells Me That I Am Just Not Steady Enough
Wednesday morning was beautiful, cool enough so I could wear my Back on Track back and neck wraps and warm enough that I could wear my spring riding tights and just a light jacket against the remaining morning chill. The sun was shining, the breeze was balmy, and the horses were happily soaking up the sun.
I did not use the BOT hock boots, since Bingo had made painfully clear that he really does not like them. Of course, this might have deprived Bingo of the deep infrared wave therapy on his hocks, which might have contributed to my problems with him. But never fear, Bingo had plenty of BOT products on, the poll cap which he LOVES, the BOT Contender II saddle pad with ThinLine, BOT exercise boots on all four legs, the butt blanket, plus I am now trying out the Fenwick therapeutic face mask with ears. ALL his iffy places were covered with the therapeutic fabrics except for his hocks. As usual I did my gentle warm-up at the walk with short trots, and Bingo did not give me any problems except for the usual “do I really have to” comments he gives me when I tell him he has to go in the direction and speed that I desire.
During my warm up Debbie started getting after me about my lack of balance. I was having problems keeping my seat centered in the saddle, and my seat kept on listing to the left while my right lower leg crept backwards. The last few weeks I had problems with my left hand drifting upward, this week my left hand stayed down, but my right lower leg returned to its old habit of drifting back, and now I am wondering if they are things I do unconsciously to keep my side-to-side balance. Once I straightened out my side-to-side balance I started working on the three speed exercise, first at the walk, and then at the trot. Bingo did do three speeds at the walk though I did have to use a lot of leg to get him to extend his stride, and he did the slow and normal trots fine (for him, that is.) However, when I tried to extend his stride at the trot he just would not move out. I tried again in a little while, and Bingo, sort of irritated, pushed off and then I discovered that my front-to-back balance was just as bad as my side-to-side balance, as I was “left behind.” The only reason I did not hit his mouth is that I have an over 40-year-old habit of advancing my hand whenever I am “left behind”, so his mouth got a mild bump instead of an excruciating jerk. My thighs were just strong enough to keep my seat from slamming into the saddle, so at least I did not hurt his weak back.
At that moment both Debbie and I realized that while Bingo was “disobeying” me, he was keeping his motion within what I could handle. I just admitted to myself that, on that day, my seat was not good enough to give Bingo a good ride and I stopped asking him for to extend his trot. In reward Bingo did give me a decent normal trot (with some suspension) when I asked him to go a little faster, but he WAS NOT going to extend his trot as long as I was wavering around in the saddle.
This cheered Debbie up, she has hopes of Bingo ending up as a lesson horse once we convince him that being ridden is not equivalent to torture. She liked that he was reflecting my riding ability on that day.
I am sure that since we did not put his BOT hock boots on for his warm-up, that Bingo’s hocks also did not feel good enough to PUSH off with his hind end, at least not enough to extend his trot stride. Often “problems” with horses have multiple causes, and these causes can include physical discomfort (from painful joints, badly fitting saddles, bad bitting, etc.) and problems with the rider (insecure seat, harsh hands, badly timed aids, etc..) On Friday, Bingo was willing to put up with just so much discomfort. If his hocks had felt better he might have tried to extend his trot, and if my seat had been more stable he might have tried even if his hocks bothered him some, but with both his hocks and my seat bothering him he just was not willing to extend his trot. I really cannot blame him for this, and I do not consider it a “disobedience.” It was just a horse who was trying to take care of himself and his less than perfect rider on a day where everything was not working perfectly.
Have a great ride!