I Rode Bingo Twice This Week

This was a good week, I got to ride Bingo 30 minutes at a walk twice this week, once for my lesson and then I FINALLY got a “homework” ride in.

Wednesday I was so glad to see that clouds of hair did not come off Bingo when Debbie groomed him! He is still shedding, but a lot of his undercoat and long guard hairs are gone. Bingo also was happier with me when I groomed his head, just trying to become a giraffe once instead of constantly. He is no longer ear-shy and I got to clean out his ears without any problems. He seems to accept my Fenwick Mask with Ears readily now so long I put it on from his side. I am so glad that he no longer sees my hands and grooming tools as instruments of torture when they get near his head, that makes it so much easier to groom him.

This was our third lesson with the double bridle. Since some horses take their own sweet time to decide if they like a new piece of tack I feel hesitant to declare success the first two weeks, the horse may appear to accept the new bit, bridle, saddle, etc., because it takes some horses weeks to come to a conclusion as to the suitability of the piece of tack to their peculiar sensitivities. Fortunately Bingo showed no problems with having two bits in his mouth, he did not give Debbie any big problems when she bridled him. Since Bingo has proven that he can be extremely difficult to bridle when he does not approve of something, I have hopes that that this shows that I introduced the double bridle to him correctly.

At the walk we worked on the three speeds, gradual turns, turns in place (fore and hind), leg yield, halting and backing, mostly on contact with the bradoon with active driving legs. My curb reins were sagging, and I would tweak my little fingers to “activate” it. He reached forward for contact readily and he kept contact fine between my hand aids. The only time he raised his head a little bit was when I used both hands at the same time with the bradoon reins for my halting aid, but I would release and when it was time to apply the curb reins his head was back down (somewhat.) I stopped in the middle of the ring twice, and both times I had to alternate between the bradoon and the curb twice, and he stopped softly with no gaping and keeping his head mostly down where it should be.

He was still reluctant to extend at the walk though I did get two “marching” walks which pleased Debbie. She LIKED seeing him stride forth confidently. Our super-slow walks also got her approval. His turns in place were still a work in progress, but it did not take as many steps for him to “plant” his hind or fore ends, unfortunately these still irritate his back some. I did remember to keep in the half-seat for these turns in place, and his back did not feel as stiff when we walked off afterwards. For some of the gradual turns I used my outside leg as the aid, for others I brought my outside hip forward as his hind leg pushed my seat forward, and for one I just used my inside thigh. For reinforcement I used light touches with the bradoon rein. His leg yield improved some, but backing up was still iffy, but considering that one of Bingo's old evasions was backing up at speed I will take iffy attempts to obey me cheerfully; with patience Bingo's backing up will improve.

Debbie was please with our ride. I think that she is enjoying seeing me introduce Bingo to the double bridle without causing him any problems.

Friday I got my first homework ride on Bingo! Most of the riders at the stable were planning on leaving for the district horse show at 8:30 AM so my husband and I arrived around 15 minutes later, and everyone had left. The lady finishing up the morning chores brought Bingo in for us, and we got to grooming him. While my husband curried and brushed his body I worked on his head and his lower legs, and after my husband cleaned his hooves I put Bingo's rear BOT exercise boots on, Debbie told me it was OK for me to leave his front exercise boots off since I got so tired putting them on. When it came time to put on Bingo's bridle I did not know what to expect. On Tuesday I had gone by our “local” good tack store and a bit caught my eye, a Shires Blue Alloy Hunter Dee “Mullen” mouth with a medium port (Cambridge mouth), a solid mouthpiece with an iron coating on the mouthpiece (the blue alloy). I have never used one of these bits before which means Bingo had never seen one before, but when I presented it to his mouth Bingo opened his mouth before I could get my thumb all the way in between his lips. I was SO RELIEVED that I did not have to stand up on tip-toe! He felt the new mouthpiece with his tongue a few times and then accepted his new bit.

When we started our ride Bingo took contact readily and kept contact quite well. It took me a little bit to coordinate my hand aids with the new solid mouthpiece but Bingo took my initial mistakes well. Turning was fine (I used my legs, of course,) and he did not seem to find anything wrong with the bit. The true test came when we halted, using both reins at once one time, he slowed a little bit, and the second time I gave the halting aid he came to a soft halt with his mouth closed, I did not have to “set” my hands like I did with the Wellep snaffles, he did not act in any way showing any discomfort with the bit.

When I stopped Bingo so he could get a good look at the cows a heron suddenly took flight around 20 feet in front of him. Bingo startled in place, he did not shy. He was a bit antsy when we went down the fence line, then he relaxed and except for him looking askance where the heron took off he went past the spot without any great problems later on. He is a good horse!

Maybe, just maybe, Bingo does well with the ported solid mouth bits because had been fortunate enough to get a few good rides with a normal ported Western curb bit when he was young. With both the Weymouth curb and my new Shire's snaffle he has relaxed in relation to the bit. No fussing with his tongue, no gaping at the mouth in response to my hand aids, no inversions, and for him rapid obedience to gently applied hand aids. I do not get this good response from any other snaffle I've used on him, mostly the super-gentle Wellep bits with the super mobile mouthpieces. When Debbie uses him in lessons she has a single jointed rubber covered snaffle in his mouth and he shows resistances. Could it be possible that Bingo does not like jointed snaffle bits, could the extra movement of the mouthpiece derail his obedience to the hand aids? Could some of Bingo's resistances come because his tongue feels “trapped” by the jointed snaffles? All I know is that Bingo seems to consider rein aids with a Cambridge mouth ported solid mouthpiece as MUCH more understandable than the same reins aids given with a jointed bit in his mouth. He is CONFUSED about what the hand aids mean with the jointed snaffle, and while I made some progress during the months I rode him a year ago I did not get to the point that I got to with one ride with my new Shires “Mullen” mouth ported snaffle.

I am very glad that I did not waste my money on my new bit!

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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