We Should Have Waited Longer for the Bute to Work

We Should Have Waited Longer for the Bute to Work

Last Sunday Shannon gave Cider a gram of Bute before she came to pick me up. When we arrived, Shannon immediately went to tack Cider up since I ride Cider in my saddle, saddle pad and bridle. Cider still looked stiff when Shannon led her to the mounting block so I started off slow and easy, trying to make my seat lighter in the saddle while not putting more of a load on her forehand. Cider was not flinching quite as much, but I could feel the flinch each and every step.

Around two months ago Cider had stopped improving after her warm-up so I was pretty sure that if there was any improvement it was because of the Bute. I continued using my collecting leg when we went down the slope, and, again, Cider did not flinch as much going downhill. I was so disappointed at first, I really miss Cider striding out and being an Energizer Bunny!

After around 20 minutes of walking I suddenly noticed that Cider was not flinching anywhere as much as she did at the beginning of our ride. She started to stride out when I asked her to, and the flinching was almost imperceptible, if I had not been looking for it I might not have noticed the flinching. By then I was HOT, sweaty and tired so I was not eager to get her into the trot, so we continued to walk while I enjoyed the absence of flinching.

This week I finally got by our local feed store that carries the Acti-Flex supplement, and it was more expensive than the last time I bought it around 7 years ago. Shannon had wanted me to get the powder, but I did not have enough money on me since I also had to buy fly spray, so I had to get the liquid. At least we can see if the Acti-Flex works for Cider before getting the more expensive powder (which has enough to treat for many more days than the liquid.) This is the same supplement that has helped Mia so much over the years that Debbie has given it to her, changing her from head bobbing lame at the trot to holding her head steady and showing no signs of pain.

I really hope this supplement helps Cider!

My lesson on Bingo was drudgery for me, Bingo was loath to move out, loath to obey my aids promptly, and it took me around 15 minutes to get him warmed up enough to show some freedom of movement. In his defense Debbie switched his feed to the Southern States feed that they recommended Debbie for horses with Cushing's Disease. The feed is obviously working, after initially getting a lot more hair off of Bingo, the hair the grooming tools pick up is around half of what it was before. The other most noticeable thing is that Bingo's feathers are starting to disappear. His feathers (long hair growing on the back of the horse's cannon) had almost completely disappeared, and I no longer feel like I am grooming a Clydesdale!

After my ride, collapsed on my bed, I thought about how Bingo was acting and I came up with the hypothesis that his whole body may be reacting to this feed that helps horse cope physically with Cushing's Disease. When I say Debbie on Friday that I agreed with her that it was time for me to start riding her new Thoroughbred, Coach, while we give Bingo time off for his “whole body” change. Bingo is not being used for Debbie's regular lessons right now, so it is a good time for Bingo to get a vacation. Debbie immediately took me to see Coach so I could meet him formally, and he strikes me as unusually friendly for a Thoroughbred, he came right up and interacted with me. Debbie told me the first time she saw him as a green-broke (for hunt seat) horse she saw him carrying an autistic boy without getting upset at all that this kid was different. Seeing that she went ahead and got him, figuring that he has a good mind and, at a minimum, become a good lesson horse for her program. Since then she has had two of her best riders ride him regularly as well as using him for lessons. She is VERY pleased with Coach and how he is fitting into her program.

Needless to say all this information pleased me. Since Coach is being ridden by advanced riders who regularly gallop him I do not have to worry about feeling guilty because Thoroughbreds want to RUN, as Debbie said that when I rode Coach it would be a much lower intensity workout for him. I checked out how he's built, Debbie thought that my Micklem bridle I use on Bingo and Mia would fit him if we lengthen the cheek pieces by a hole or two. My main problem is a bit, Coach has a five inch mouth and for the past decade I've mostly ridden horses with 4 3/4” mouths. My 5” Wellep bit is now on loan to Bingo for use in lessons, and most of my 5” bits are in storage since I have not had to use them for so many years. Looking at all my bits that are not in storage I finally decided that my Myler Comfort Snaffle with my leather bit guards would be the best bit for me to try, though I can always use Bingo's bridle with my 5” Wellep bit.

Part of my safety regimen for riding school horses is to try to use completely different tack so the horse realizes at every second of the ride that I am not one of the horse's “usual” riders. The saddle is easy, my Pegasus Butterfly saddle WILL fit his front and shoulders, and no one else at the barn has a Pegasus Butterfly saddle. The saddle pad is also easy, while Debbie does have the two Contender II BOT/ThinLine saddle pads I contributed to the stable, she just uses them on Bingo and her horse, Tercel. I am also the only person at the stable who uses a mohair string girth.

I would really like to use my modified Micklem bridle, because, again, no one else at the barn uses a Micklem bridle and I think that the horses are more comfortable wearing it. Ideally I would get my Wellep 5” bit back and put it on my Micklem bridle at least while Bingo is on vacation since the Wellep bit best ameliorates my hand faults and the horses LOVE rotating the mouthpiece around with their tongues, keeping their mouths nice and responsive. While the Myler Comfort Snaffle is not quite as good a bit for my hands, it is also not been used on Coach and it will give him plenty of tongue room, a center roller he can play with, and is wide enough so I can use my leather bit guards to protect his lips (the Comfort Snaffle I have is a loose ring bit.) Even my reins look and feel different, since now I use the Rainbow rubber reins.

The reason behind all my tack choices is simple, I am trying to prevent the major sources of irritation for a ridden horse, a bridle that rubs over facial nerves, a saddle that pinches the horse's shoulders, and I ride in the Forward Seat, the system that was developed to irritate the horse the least. From what I have observed over the decades, horses rarely “blow up” over just one irritation. Horses can readily ignore one irritation, if it is not too painful or causing injury. It is when the head hurts, and the back hurts, and the shoulders are pinched, and then the rider starts crashing into the saddle or keeps on the back of the horse by pulling back on the reins hard, that the horses tend to object, often explosively. So I do what I can to feel different to the horse while at the same time making sure that the horse is truly comfortable with its tack. Horses resent pain, especially pain that never ends. By making sure that the horses I ride do not feel discomfort I rarely get explosions, and if I do get an explosion the horse does not decided to dedicate its life to getting rid of me permanently. The horse and I may be just shuffling around the ring, but our worst problem is boredom, not irritating pains, and the usual inevitable starts and shies do not escalate into a situation that is dangerous for me.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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