Bingo Seems to Like My New Seat in the Saddle
Due to Bingo's extremely high croup and due to the lack of intelligent training and physical development earlier in his life, including not “fixing” his inverted posture while ridden, Bingo has back problems under saddle. It has been my goal for every ride in the last seventeen months to strengthen Bingo's back and to lead him to the best way of moving so he does not aggravate his back issues. His back has strengthened, he no longer travels inverted at the trot (at least when I ride him), an Debbie has noted his improved movement with approval. When I bought a new saddle I chose the Pegasus Butterfly saddle because it favored horses that need short saddle panels on their backs, and I ride as much Forward Seat on him as I can with my exhaustion in the saddle.
However before I put my feet “home” in the stirrups Bingo was super sticky about not moving forward freely, and he often balked, usually two to three times a lesson. This happened in spite of the fact I spent most of the first ten minutes of my lesson up in two-point so his back muscles could warm up without my weight on the weaker part of his back. He would move forward freely at the walk and, with encouragement, start moving out at the trot, but at certain favored points in the ring he would slam on the brakes and when I used my legs to tell him to go forward he would back up even on loose reins. The I would have to “waste” a minute or two of my lesson at each balk to get him through his “snitty fit” before he would go forward past his favored balking spot in the ring.
When I put my feet “home” in the stirrups, so that the treads of the stirrups were under the arch of my feet, I had no expectations of any improvements with Bingo's balking. Like Debbie, I had automatically assumed that Bingo's balkiness was due to him “getting away” with balking in his distant past. I now think I was wrong to make that assumption. Getting my whole body forward in the saddle around one inch puts my seated weight further forward to a stronger part of his spine that does not move as much when ridden. The wonderful result is that Bingo, while still reluctant to move forward, has rediscovered the joys of moving forward freely and he has stopped balking, even in his favorite balking spots. I use a LOT LESS LEG getting and keeping Bingo moving now. Could Bingo's balking, now and in the past, have been because of back pain from his rider's weight as well as bad training?
The most amazing thing about my lesson on Bingo was when we trotted. I used a lot less leg to get him
into the trot, but he still shuffled rather than springing from one diagonal to the other. Then I went to my usual aids to get him to extend his trot, squeezing with my calves when I sat down and lightly moving my little fingers back when I rose (the rider MUST have an independent seat to do the light signal with the little fingers, otherwise riders tend to haul themselves up with the reins.) Bingo immediately moved into a true trot with suspension and he kept in the true trot as long as I alternated my leg and rein aids. Usually I had to use a lot of leg pressure to get this result, but since I put my feet home in the stirrups I have been able to get him into a true trot with minimal leg pressure. Bingo felt like he was starting to fly through the air instead of plowing through the ground.
After the lesson I asked Debbie if Bingo had shown any discomfort with my “new” seat. She told me that he really seemed to like it and showed no discomfort at all. My only problem is that it takes me so much more energy to do the “rider's push-ups” that get my whole body forward and to keep my body more forward in the saddle so I can balance over my stirrups when my feet are “home”, that I end up totally exhausted after my rides.
Earlier last week I had gone by the tack store to get something I needed, and while looking around I noticed this new grooming tool, “Epona Tiger's Tongue Horse Groomer.” In the package it looks like a really thin black sponge, but once out of its vacuum packaging is expands greatly (from around 1/4” thick to almost 2 1/2” thick.) Curious about how effective it was, I asked Debbie to use it when grooming Bingo. Debbie had already “curried” Bingo with the HandsOn grooming gloves, and she used the “Tiger's Tongue” like the dandy brush, flicking it up at the end of the stroke. Well, clouds of dust simply flew out of Bingo's coat without much effort. By the time Debbie had used the “Tiger's Tongue” over every bit of Bingo's body Debbie wanted one for herself! After she finished I went over Bingo's back with the “jelly scrubber”, used the “Tiger's Tongue” a few times over his back, and finished up with the lamb's wool body brush, and when we untacked Bingo there was a LOT LESS dirt and dust on the saddle pad!
Bingo's coat really GLOWED after using the “Tiger's Tongue”! We got results from a mere ten minutes of grooming that used to take me an hour of hard grooming every day for a week or more, a deep, deep shine that glowed under any level of light, indoors and out, and some dapples even started to come out on Bingo's coat! Bingo has a very dull looking coat of a very dull dun color, and it usually takes several minutes of vigorous grooming to get any shine at all, and I have never seen any hint of dapples in Bingo's coat before using this new grooming tool.
Then on Friday I used the “Tiger's Tongue” on Mia, and after a few minutes of grooming her coat started to glisten under the lights. I was unable to get Mia's back as clean as Debbie got Bingo's back, there was plenty of dust on the saddle pad when I took it off of her. Next time I will just have to use it more on Mia's back before I tack up. I am very pleased with this new grooming tool, it works as advertised and it only costs $7.00 US! I am going to hit the tack stores next week and buy as many of them that I can to give the the stables where I ride. The “Tiger's Tongue” is also supposed to be very good at cleaning dirt off the outside of the horse's hooves, and it is supposed to be very good at cleaning the scum out of water buckets too. I think that every stable could use several of these to save time and energy grooming the horses, cleaning the outside of the hooves and cleaning out water buckets every day. Isn't progress wonderful!
Have a great ride!