Nothing Much Happening

Except for a good bit of rain and being sort of sick.

I did get a few rides in, fortunately, though I did not have much endurance because of whatever it was that I had. I even got two lessons with Debbie!

The first lesson, on MJ of course, consisted of me being almost totally useless for grooming MJ, and plodding to the riding ring. This lesson I used my Fager Alexander sweet iron snaffle again because I wanted Debbie's opinion on how he was accepting this bit. I made up a regular bridle for this snaffle bit, and Debbie's first reaction was “no noseband?” No, I hate nosebands, I don't need a noseband, and I see no reason for using one. Then she adjusted the bridle to her satisfaction.

I most definitely was not riding very vigorously, whatever sickness I had made my front to back balance a lot worse. Fortunately doing the “rider's push-ups” helped me get my sense of balance back, somewhat. MJ took and kept contact fine, I know my hands were not as good as usual but he accepted this with good grace.

The problem with me riding MJ in a snaffle is that to him a snaffle bit equals a beginner, someone to be pleasant to but not a person that a horse needs to really take seriously. Rein aids, whether for turning, slowing down, or backing up are met with “Is that an aid? Are you sure? Do I really have to do this? WHY????” Yes MJ, this is an aid, yes I do expect you to obey it, yes I am very sure that I want you to do this, and for the WHY???, well, because I said so. Eventually he obeys, gets release, he gets praise if merited, and he goes on quietly because it really is not a big deal.

My lesson was on Friday and Debbie was putting on a schooling show that weekend. MJ did well, he did 6 classes and got the “championship” for the beginner walk, trot and canter classes. I am always pleased when a horse I'm schooling goes well for other riders, especially beginners. From Debbie's comments about his classes I will have to work on his regular trot to extended trot transitions, whenever I feel like I have enough energy to do this work. It will have to wait a while.

This Friday I got my second lesson. It had rained, rained, and rained some more the first part of the week, then on Thursday we got the remnants of the last tropical storm. The rain was sort of heavy at my house, but on the drive to the stable it was obvious that to the west of me it had rained a lot harder. Our local river, the appropriately named Rocky River, was flooded on both sides, extending way beyond its banks and with nary a rock in sight. We had to turn around and go another way when we found a flooded section of our usual route. When we got to the stable Darryl told us that there was another flooded portion of our usual route, and that one of the small local bridges had washed out even further down the road. When we got to the ring Debbie said the sand felt like the beach when a wave goes out, nicely packed down.

When I got to the barn Debbie brought MJ in and asked me to start grooming him so she could finish cleaning some stalls. My husband used the HandsOn Grooming gloves on him, then I took over, first with the Tigers Tongue, then the various brushes. I also made sure to use my wooden roller massage tool on his loin, he really liked that! Debbie finished her stalls and cleaned his feet out, I had to dig out my thrush remedy because one foot was getting it from all the rain and mud. She tacked him up and I put his BOT exercise sheet on him. This lesson I used the double bridle.

The ring was wet, but at least it was not flooded beyond the usual puddles. MJ was stiff to start off, Debbie had kept him in because it was so wet so he did not get his usual chance to loosen up. The BOT saddle pad and exercise sheet help, but it takes a little while to warm up when a horse starts moving after hours of being still. As MJ and I took our usual meandering path around the jumps Debbie checked that the drainage areas were clear. Considering the amount of rain we had I was surprised that the ring was not worse.

I practiced the leg yield some. I had picked up from reading “Equitation” by Henry Wynmalen his technique for doing a leg yield, and he uses the rein aid BEFORE using his opposite leg aid, he said it was easier for the horse to understand and prevented the horse from confusing the leg yield aid with aids for other movements. For decades I have religiously been using my leg aids first so I am having to reroute my nervous system to use my hand aid first. MJ's leg yields now start off as usual (“What?”), but he quickly gets the idea and now cooperates in keeping his body straighter while doing the leg yield. We are improving slowly, but at least we are improving rather than doing the usual muddle which ends up looking rather like a pretzel.

MJ did NOT want to extend his walk at all. He might have sped up a little bit in response to my driving leg aids, but as far as extending his stride he just did not feel like it. I finally put all four reins in one hand and tapped the top of his croup just as it rose to its highest, and he started extending some. We worked on this a little bit, and after doing as good of an extension as I would get that day I asked him for the halt. He halted promptly, straight, and kept his mouth closed and soft. On that positive note I ended my ride.

At least next week should be better as far as the weather is concerned.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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