Is the 2nd Riding Ring in Another Universe?
Due to some chaos on Wednesday morning I did not get my lesson with Debbie. I did get to ride there on Thursday, and when we set it up I asked Debbie if I could use my double bridle on Bingo even though I would not be in a lesson. She had no problems with my request which was nice, it means I am using the double bridle correctly and not causing Bingo many problems.
Since Debbie had scheduled a lesson with three other riders when I rode I decided to ride in the second ring so I would not have to keep track of the other horses and riders. I did go into the main ring so I could use the three-step mounting block and I rode to the second ring. From the time we turned up the “road” to the second ring's gate Bingo started sucking back, plainly telling me “I don't want to go there.” I persisted and got him up to the gate, my husband opened it, and Bingo refused to go through it, backing up every time I brought him back to the gate. After the third refusal I made Bingo do a turn on the forehand and I had my husband lead him through.
I have never ridden Bingo in the double bridle in the second ring. He acted like he had never been in that ring before, sucking back at first, then when I got him freely striding at a walk on contact there were certain areas of the ring that were WRONG to him, and I would have to coax him to get him to even go there, all at the walk.
I was concentrating on keeping contact with the bradoon at the walk, asking for a stretchy walk on contact, with several turns and a few halts. At first he did the halts off the bradoon fine (I used alternating twitches of my little fingers on contact) but at any moment he could decide that contact was not the way to go, especially when we headed toward the WRONG areas. After several minutes of walking Bingo tentatively started trying to balk but he went forward in response to my legs.
Anytime I tried to slow him down by using both my hands at the same time, something I'd been doing since I started him on the double bridle, he reacted like he had NO idea of what I meant by my rein action.
All the previous times I'd ridden Bingo in the second ring it had been in a single-jointed snaffle or the double-jointed Wellep bit, and I stopped him with alternating tweaks with my little finger. But I had not schooled Bingo in the second ring with me using both hands at the same time to halt. It was like when I took Bingo into the second ring that I had changed to speaking a totally foreign unrelated language that had nothing to do with anything he knew, and he felt confused with anything that I had not taught him IN THAT PARTICULAR RING even though he obeyed the same aids fine in the main riding ring. In changing riding rings I went back to step one with the double bridle in spite of him doing quite well with it in the main riding ring.
Oh vey! I miss the Arabians and their advanced mental capacities.
I did not use the curb rein at all until I started schooling him to halt even though he was headed toward the gate. The first time I went toward the gate he just bored down on the bradoon until I finally stopped him just before the gate by taking a hard grip on the reins. So he got schooled on stopping when I told him to even if he was headed to the gate. After each stop his resistance got worse so I finally tweaked my curb rein and he stopped completely instead of trying to creep each foot forward.
When I was schooling Bingo for the summer camp I had made sure to ride him when other horses were in the main ring, because I feared that if he was all of a sudden in a group of horses that he would forget all that he knew. I did this schooling in the snaffle bit that he was going to wear during summer camp, because I knew that if I did not do this schooling that Bingo would forget everything he knew and give his little rider a bad ride (which he did at the canter, but I had not schooled him at the canter as I was just too weak to handle it properly.) I also had a session or two in the second ring just in case they needed to use that ring for the summer camp.
It seems that anything Bingo learns in the main ring has to be retaught in any different environment, especially an environment he is not happy with (luckily he loves trail riding if he is in the lead.)
I have come to the conclusion that Bingo's brain just is not set up like all the other horses I've ridden. He cannot seem to find commonality between what I ask him for in the main ring when I change to the other ring, and I have to re-school him from the start. Once he learns something, again, then he will obey me but it takes time, time to teach him, time for him to understand, and time to repeat each aid so it finally gets into his head that this aid at this time means this.
The second ring might as well be in a different, much more threatening universe with unknown dangers lurking in the background, ready to pounce on him with ill intent. Bingo is not terrified in the other ring, just ultra wary about everything and he stays ultra wary the whole ride. Bingo's motto seems to be “when in doubt balk” then trudge as slowly as possible around the ring when I insist that he move forward.
Next week I should have my lesson in the main ring, all alone except for Debbie. YEAH!
I now use stainless steel bits for the double bridle because I could not find a titanium curb bit narrow enough for his mouth. I finally ran into a 4 1/2” Mullen mouth Weymouth curb in titanium but it will take me a while to save up my money to buy it. There is also a 5” single-jointed bradoon at the same place, unfortunately loose ring so that will be a whole new education for him. But it will take me months to budget for them and in the meantime I do ride him occasionally in the 5” single-jointed titanium coated eggbutt snaffle on my homework rides, so he is at least familiar with the taste of the titanium. It will be interesting when I finally get them to see if he improves with the titanium double bridle bits.
Have a great ride!