I Prove that I am not a Wimp

Yesterday morning it was above in the low 40’s F, thick clouds, and with a brisk north breeze/wind.  It was cold and raw, and when Darryl put Mia in the wash stall, she looked at me pointedly and I put her BOT butt blanket over her back.  Then I rushed to groom her head, ears and mane, and I put her BOT poll cap on.  Finally, Mia stopped giving me emphatic LOOKS with slightly unhappy eyes, she was just warm enough where she ached so she could relax and enjoy her grooming.

My husband hurried up and groomed her, lifting up and then replacing the butt blanket when he needed to groom her back.  Unfortunately, as a response the all the 70° days we have had, the horses are all shedding.  When the hair flew off my grooming mitt, I comforted myself with the thought that Mia would be warmer that night with her coat not matted down.  As soon as possible, I got her BOT Contender II saddle pad on her back and I moved the butt blanket back to where it belonged so that her croup muscles would get warm.  We got the saddle on and girthed, and then Mia gave me ANOTHER pointed look so I immediately got her second butt blanket on her, the one that covers her shoulders a little bit, before she stopped “grumbling” at me.  The BOT stuff does not warm up Mia’s 30+ year old body completely, but it seems to keep her muscles from seizing up in the cold. 

Mia was moving stiffly as my husband led her to the mounting block.  The wind was lightly howling through the ventilation slits of my helmet as I zipped up my jacket.  It was so cold that the ducks, geese and heron were nowhere in sight.  Mia was more spirited than usual after I mounted her, so when she indicated that she was interested in LOOKING at something, I just signaled her to stop and let her mentally process whatever had caught her eye. 

This super intent LOOKING is a breed characteristic of Arabian horses, some lines having this characteristic more than others (*Muson, imported by Homer Davenport in 1907, passed this trait on to his descendents in America.)  Of course horses of other breeds also show this characteristic, but hey, most riding horses have an Arabian somewhere in their ancestry, however far back one has to go in the pedigree to find one.  I find with Mia, that if I let her have a good long look at something (I often count to 10 slowly,) the rest of my ride is relatively peaceful and she pays attention to me.  If I do not let her look she spends the whole ride trying to look at whatever got her interest and she is NOT paying attention to me.  She frets, looks for excuses to “jig,” and she is not interested in “talking” with me through the bit.  Life is a lot more peaceful when I let her LOOK around during the first few minutes of my ride.

Mia lived outside in a big paddock, free to get out of the wind.  Her main objection to the riding ring is that there are no windbreaks around the ring and she cannot get out of the wind.  As long as I cover a lot of her body with the butt blankets she is willing to carry me around the ring, but before I bought the butt blankets I got a lot of dirty LOOKS from her when I rode her in the cold wind.  Mia communicates a lot through her LOOKS! 

I spent most of my ride at the walk, practicing my two-point as much as I could, which was not much since my body was not working too well in the cold wind.  I rapidly put the front of Mia’s top butt blanket over my thighs and my new leather half-chaps kept my lower legs warm, and after ten minutes I had to put my gloves on.  As I started meditating on the fact that most sane people would have stayed inside Friday morning, warm, cozy, and out of the wind, I just shrugged.  I am a horseback rider of the hunt seat tradition, and I just do not consider above freezing, cold windy weather as a valid excuse not to ride.  Still, after 26 minutes I had enough and I ended my ride.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran




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