At Least it is Raining Again

I probably will not get to ride tomorrow. A whole lot of rain is coming, definitely enough to make Shannon's grass ring too wet for riding.

I am not complaining, I am rejoicing. We have not had much rain since winter and the vegetation is growing vigorously. The forests, ponds, streams, fields and crops NEED this rain. There are a lot of woods around and on my place, and I do not want them to get too dry. I want plentiful hay harvests and a lot of grass for the livestock, and I want the local farmers to prosper this year. That requires rain, and if it interferes with my riding, oh well.

I did get my lesson this week. When I got to the stable I was glad that I double mask, because as time went on more and more people appeared. MJ continues to LOVE the new Strip Hair Gentle Groomer, getting all dreamy eyed as Debbie used the grooming edge to get his shedding hair out of his coat. MJ can be “expressive” about his opinions about grooming tools and how we use them on him. He will put up with something for a short while, start scowling some, makes little abrupt movements with his head, and ends up with him dancing around in the cross-ties. With the Strip Hair groomer he stands there peaceably, licking, with relaxed eyes, he lowers his head and we have to push on him to get him to move over a little bit. His red haired imperious Majesty has finally found a grooming tool that is comfortable enough to use on his sensitive skin.

It is always better if you do not piss off your horse from the very beginning. A relaxed happy horse can give a much better ride. It can pay off big time when you get your horse to actually enjoy being groomed. A relaxed happy horse is easier to ride, a relaxed happy horse is much easier to train, and a relaxed happy horse is less likely to look for scary stuff to spook at. This new grooming tool is expensive, $30.00 US, but it is a lot cheaper than a brain transplant for the horse or the rider.

MJ was nice and relaxed during his walk to the ring. The grooming went well, he had his Fenwick Western saddle pad warming up his back and loin, and he had his BOT butt blanket on. He was still sort of stiff, he is in his late twenties and he is still getting fit enough to do riding lessons after his year or so as a pasture ornament. I just sat as far forward as I could in the saddle so I avoided the ouchiest part of his back, and I did not fully sit down until his back “invited” me to. That was good enough to get his back relaxed at the walk but not at the trot. He trotted readily, moved on somewhat in response to my legs, but when I tried to sit his slow trot I did not make it past two strides as it was just too jolting for me.

He halted OK, but there was a question in his mind about if I REALLY MEANT for him to stop. Debbie then told me that one of his lesson riders had a difficult time getting her body together enough to properly coordinate her halting aids, and MJ just ignored her and kept on moving. So of course MJ tested my aids, but since my aids are properly timed and coordinated he eventually decided that I really meant for him to stop and he stopped softly, lightly licking his lips, mouth and neck relaxed, to stand on a loose rein.

We were using the double bridle with the Fager Victoria titanium Mullen mouth curb and the Fager Jacob sweet iron w/ a center roller bradoon. Well, MJ salivated super well in response to the sweet iron and the roller, and his mouth got sort of sloppy. Fager finally came out with the same mouthpiece in a titanium bradoon, and I am saving up my money to buy one. It will be interesting to find out if MJ is salivating more than usual in response to the sweet iron or if just the roller that induced so much saliva. Since MJ is obeying me so much better for moving diagonally I want to keep this type of mouthpiece for the bradoon, and Fager is the only place that makes one.

My last trot I decided it was time for MJ to learn to move out at the posting trot. The aids are simple, use both my lower legs at once when I sit down and lightly feel the bradoon rein as I rise. MJ did move out some and he gave me more impulse. I had to use my leg aids more when we went through a curve, he always wants to slow down it we are not aimed straight ahead. He should eventually get the message of keeping a constant speed through gentle curves, just like I expect a constant speed when going down the fence, whether the speed is his normal trot, the slower sitting trot, or the faster extended trot. This can be somewhat difficult to communicate to a lesson horse who is essentially allowed to just slog around when carrying a beginner. Well, no beginner uses a double bridle in hunt seat (Saddle Seat riders are different in this), so eventually he will get the message that when I ride him in the double bridle I expect a slightly higher level of response to my aids. I am NOT a beginner after all. I am not this exacting when I use just a snaffle as I do not want to confuse the poor horse, all his beginner riders use a snaffle and have no idea of how to coordinate their aids.

Debbie is getting to like MJ more and more as a lesson horse. He does not scare his riders, he insists on a certain level of competence to obey his rider, and so far he has shown no signs of being explosive, something that can really scare a beginner. When I ride MJ Debbie gets to see how MJ can move better with better riding in contrast to his usual carrying a beginner slog, and she likes what she sees.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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Comment by B. G. Hearns on May 9, 2021 at 12:22am

I love following your exploration of riding equipment. I got a gift -- an I-don't-need-this-maybe-you'd-like-it sort of gift -- a sort of rubber brush/curry comb that looks like a block of rubber, but which works marvellously at cleaning off the mud and hair &c.

It is definitely very helpful to have a horse start out happy rather than annoyed!

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