Then Cider Changes Her Mind

It is getting into the odd season down here. I was just starting to get ready for my lesson on Wednesday when Debbie called, she had a sinus infection and she told me that one of her boarders had tested positive to Covid-19. With Thanksgiving being the next day and all the people coming into the barn I decided it was best for me to stop riding at my lesson barn for a week or two. Darn Covid-19 for interfering with my riding yet again.

At least I got to ride Cider last Sunday. I went into my ride feeling very positive but Cider had different ideas. We started off fine using the double bridle, Cider was flinching but she had been worse. I kept contact with just the curb bit for a bit longer than I had before and Shannon told me that Cider looked content and gave no indications of discomfort. Then I went to my regular riding where everything went downhill.


We went along the fence with our normal set of problems with going straight, with Cider still flinching. When we got to the down-slope Cider flinched even more. I applied my collecting leg aids—no response whatsoever. Cider did not coil her loins, she did not put more weight on her hind legs, nothing, nothing, nothing. Then we went through the corner which can get swampy, and while I had to use my thigh and leg aids we got through the corner without any major problems.

So we continued along the fence. The second time down the slope I still got no response to my collecting leg aids as she gingerly walked “downhill”. When we got to the edges of the often swampy corner she simply refused to go into the corner. She twisted herself into a pretzel and did everything she could not to set one foot into the corner area. I finally coaxed her to go around the “edge” of the corner, and from then on I had to use my seat, thigh and leg aids to get any resemblance of straightness at all (as in she never did get totally straight.)

The next time we approached that corner it was “no, No, NO, a thousand times NO!!!!” I got her as near as I could and then walked around the rest of the ring. It got so every step I had to give an aid for each leg as it moved. I asked Shannon what in the world I was doing wrong to get these reactions, and Shannon said I was not doing anything different from before and Shannon had no problems with my riding. Unfortunately Cider did not agree with her.

After 20 minutes I told her to halt and we had a discussion, she halted pointing towards Shannon, then she moved one leg, then the next leg, and I told Cider if she moved another leg toward Shannon she would get backed up. After all this is something that I practice several times each ride, it was not like she did not know what I expected.

Inevitably the next leg moved. I backed Cider up six strides and decided that the best thing I could do for the next 5 minutes was just stand there. Shannon saw what I was doing and came to stand relatively near to Cider so she would stand still while I did my “exercises”, “rider's push-up” to Vertical Far several times, then I did my stretching exercises. I talked with Shannon some. When I had been in the saddle for thirty minutes Cider, who has an extremely accurate clock in her head, started making little impatient movements with her head. I made her stand still without her head moving for about 30 seconds, then I got off to Cider's relief.

That was one of my worse rides in my life, in contrast to the weekend before which had been so GOOD and productive!

Horses do not believe that they were put on Earth to feed their rider's vanity as Cider showed me last Sunday.

I hope I get to ride tomorrow.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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