Bingo Was Not Too Sure About the Next Experiment
As I wrote in my blog last week
(I Try Three New Things with Bingo,) I tried the Pee Wee bit on Bingo, and Debbie wanted to see if the next size up of the Pee Wee bit would work better with him. So I dug through all my bits and finally found the medium size Pee Wee bit and put it on my bridle. The Pee Wee bit comes in three sizes, Small-4 ¾”, Medium-5 1/4”, and Large-5 ¾”, but since the bit sits further down in the horse’s mouth, where the jaw is narrower, I do not need the Pee Wee bit’s mouthpiece to be as wide as a bit that sits further up in the horse’s mouth where the jaw is wider. When I put the Medium Pee Wee bit on the bridle it just looked WAY to wide for Bingo, so I dug out my pair of Neoprene Bit Guards with Velcro, which are ¼” thick, and put them on the bit.
When Debbie put the bridle on Bingo everything looked like it fit correctly, and since she was worried about how the bottom bars of the Pee Wee bit sort of dug into the bottom of Bingo’s lip, Debbie liked that I had the bit guards on. Bingo was not too sure, I had a little bit of difficulty in getting him to move and he promptly put his head way down into his “safe place.” Bingo was harder to turn, Bingo did not move as fluidly as the week before, and the first time I halted him all his old resistances to the bit came back, in other words instead of just tweaking my little fingers I had to set my hands, which caused Bingo to open his mouth. Both Debbie and I quickly realized that Bingo was just not as happy with his bit as he was last week, even though the bit fit looser and the bit had rather thick cushioning where it met the corners of his mouth.
When I got home I went to the Pee Wee bit site (macsequine.com) and read “The Pee Wee bit is the only bit on the market where the big rings do not contact the sensitive side of the horse’s face. The Pee Wee bit eliminates the horse’s lips being forced against the teeth.” Could the bit guards have been forcing Bingo’s cheeks against his molar teeth? Could that have been the reason that he went better in the small Pee Wee bit without the bit guards than he did with both the larger Pee Wee bit with the bit guards or the Wellep bit?
But the bits may not be Bingo’s only problem.
A week or so ago I was on the COTH forum and ran into a discussion of a horse whose problems were somewhat like Bingo’s problems, especially with being resistant to turning (www.chronofhorse.com). This horse’s owner had tried many veterinary scanning technologies, but ONLY when the veterinarian used an Ultrasound scanner did they find that the horse had a swollen bursa at the C1 vertebra. I know how my neck gets hurting, and how resistant I am about turning my neck when it hurts. Could Bingo have this problem? He does not want to turn, he is very head and ear shy when handled near the base of his left ear, and he becomes less head and ear shy when I put my BOT poll cap on him. I discussed this with Debbie, and told her after I got the Balding girths I need (in order to have an English girth without any elastic) I would save up my money to pay for the veterinarian to Ultrasound Bingo’s neck. It will be interesting to see if Bingo has the same problem, and if he does then I can then save up more money to treat him! I suspect that Bingo may have this problem, possibly all the way down to the C3 vertebra, just by the particular way he resists bending his neck in response to the opening rein. I have run into horses before that are resistant to turning, but usually with gentle rein actions these horses relaxed their necks and the problem went away. Well, this is not working with Bingo and I want to find out why! Until then I will be turning him mainly from my seat and legs and I will do nothing to force him to “give” his neck in a side flexion.
In the meantime Bingo is doing quite well as a beginner’s walk/trot mount. Beginning riders do not get into the sophisticated use of hand aids and they do not mess with flexions of the neck! But I ride at a much higher level and I would like for Bingo to react properly to my turning aids. Back decades ago I would have tried to “train” Bingo to do a side flexion of the neck so I could “prove” to myself what a great rider and trainer I was. But nowadays I am older, wiser, and a lot achier in general so I have more sympathy with a horse’s pain. I am convinced that most resistances to gently applied hand aids are caused by pain; either pain caused by old injuries (like slamming back into the halter when tied) or by the harshness of the rider’s hands. If the rider effectively treats the pain and/or lightens up with her hands, the results can seem truly miraculous as the horse willingly starts to obey hand aids that previously caused great resistance. Otherwise the rider is asking the horse to cause itself pain as it tries to obey its rider, and when this goes on long enough the horse ends up not liking it when its rider shows up to ride.
Wednesday, as we were grooming Bingo, I noticed that even though he was quite head and ear shy he was trying to stand closer to me than he usually did before. His eyes no longer looked anxious as long as I kept away from his left ear, and he seemed more content to be around me, in fact he kept his nose gently touching me whenever I was close enough. I think he was trying to remind him to put the BOT poll cap on him, and when I did he stopped being as head and ear shy. I seem to be succeeding in convincing Bingo that when I am around he will feel better, and he is learning to trust that when I handle and ride him that I will do everything I can to make him feel better both physically and mentally. Bingo may be a small, croup high, and uneducated horse, but both Debbie and I are convinced that when we fix his pain issues and train him with intelligence then Bingo will end up being a truly SUPERIOR RIDING HORSE!
Have a great ride!