The Cold Wind Just Drained All of My Energy

The Cold Wind Just Drained All of My Energy

Our extremely persistent moderate drought is easing. The ponds are filling up again, our local river has stopped looking like an easily fordable creek and we are seeing persistent mud again. This is good in many ways, at least the soil will have enough moisture to grow the first Spring hay crop! So I do not complain too much about the rain. Of course right now all the clear, sunny days are COLD, and the pleasantly warm days are rainy. This can make it challenging for me to get up in the morning to ride the horses.

Thursday, when I rode Mia, it was nice and sunny, but the wind was COLD, and the longer I was out in it the colder it felt. I got Darryl to close the big barn door so Mia would not freeze when I groomed her, she REALLY hates standing in a cold wind. I do not blame her at all, getting that huge barn rolling gate down helped me too, that wind searched out each and every gap it could find and I was getting cold.

I got thoroughly warmed up grooming Mia. She enjoys grooming so much now that it is hard to tell when she has had enough. I try to work hard on getting the horses' backs really clean so my BOT saddle pad does not get as dirty, which is more important than ever since I lent my BOT saddle pad to my stable since Bingo has a new rider, a gutsy little girl. But no matter how much I curry and brush Mia's back there is still more dust to get out of her thick winter coat. First my husband uses the HandsOn grooming gloves, then the dandy brush and the body brush. Then I get in the act, first using the flick brush to get some of the dust off, the Retriever grooming tool to loosen up more dust, then the Tiger's Tongue grooming tool, the flick brush again, and I finish with my lamb's wool body brush. The saddle pad still gets dusty and full of shedding hair, but it does not get too horrible. Even so I have to brush the pad off both before and after riding to prevent the buildup of dirt and matted hair.

Mia did fine in the ring, she felt warm enough under the exercise sheets and neck cover so she was not too mad at me for making her stay out in the cold wind. We walked and trotted around, mostly so she could cough all the mucus that accumulated in the lungs out of her lungs (hey, she is 32, of course her lungs are not perfect.) At one point she stopped, why I do not know but I suspect that I had accidentally given her an aid that said “stop”, so I took advantage of her just standing there and I did my stretching exercises and some “rider's push-ups” while she stood still instead of while she walked around. Since she immediately walked out when I told her to I suspect that this unplanned halt was more my fault that her disobeying me. Eventually I realized that the cold wind was draining all of my energy out of my body and I stopped and got off.

I was worried that I would be mostly useless during my lesson on Friday, but overnight the wind switched directions and became a balmy southwestern breeze. By the time I got to the ring I took off my jacket and I did not feel cold at all. Bingo had a lesson previously that week with a new beginning rider, a gutsy little girl, and Debbie said he did very well with her. This time Bingo was nowhere near as bad as he usually is after another person rides him, he only gave me one major evasion, trying to swing out from the arena fence. I got him back on track, made him go back and keep on the rail, and I had no further problems with him.

The warm wind made all the difference with me! I trotted a good bit, I did plenty of “rider's push-ups”,

and I carried the Equicube longer than before. This week, in part as my way of dealing with Bingo's boredom of the same thing all the time, and in part to deal with my boredom of doing the same thing all the time, I asked Debbie to put the Free Jump Collar on him. It was challenging to me to carry the Equicube and to hold the ends of the Free Jump Collar hand straps in my hands, but it really did keep me from feeling bored! Debbie asked me why I wanted to use the collar since she did not think I “needed” it, and I told her that one day in the future I want to use two reins again, either with a Pelham or a double bridle, but first I had to get my hands used to carrying more than one strap at a time again. Besides, I have noticed that when I have tension on the Free Jump Collar and I keep my reins slightly sagging, that Bingo will voluntarily reach down and out to the bit even if I am not using leg, leg, leg. It was the first time I was carrying the Equicube while holding the Free Jump Collar hand straps that Bingo did his big evasion from the arena rail, but once I got myself all sorted out and established proper contact I had no more problems with him.

And I did not get tired! I rode longer than usual, I did more exercises than usual, and Debbie was very pleased with me. Such a big difference from the day before while I rode in the cold wind.

I was talking with Debbie about Bingo's lesson with his beginning rider (and she really is a total beginner,) and I told her that I thought that Bingo had been trying to tell his previous riders that he hurt, and that he became sullen and uncooperative because he thought (accurately) that his riders were not listening to him. Debbie did not put much gear on Bingo for his lesson, he just had on the BOT poll cap, hind exercise boots, and BOT Contender II saddle pad with the ThinLine center shims, nowhere near the amount of stuff I put on him. I think that Bingo's main problem point is his swayed back, and that the BOT Contender II saddle pad with the center shims really help him feel comfortable under saddle. His second major problem seems to be his “headache” which is helped a lot by the BOT poll cap. His third major problem area is his right hind, right above his fetlock joint he has wind puffs and she used the BOT exercise boots on his hind legs. So he was good under a total beginner when all three problem areas were addressed and improved.

When I started riding Bingo he was sullen, uncooperative, and he had a permanent scowl on his face. Now, since Debbie and I have addressed his pain issues, he has turned out to have a really pleasant expression and an appealing face, the type of face and eye that little girls (and adult women) can “fall in love” with (even though Bingo is one of the ugliest horses I've ever seen.) Month by month his eyes become “kinder”, his muzzle relaxes more, and he is more forgiving of his riders. Maybe, just maybe, Debbie and I will be able to get Bingo accepting of his role as a lesson horse for beginners. If we do not succeed in this, I suggested to Debbie that Bingo would be ideal as a lesson horse for advanced beginners, to educate these riders on how to get an uncooperative horse to obey them, a skill that may be useful in these riders' future riding careers. If beginners always ride docile beginner horses that agree to obey beginners, the riders will not learn how to deal with horses who get defiant. If a person rides enough horses, long enough, this skill can be invaluable, because not all horses are meek and mild!

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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