Bingo Was Not Behaving

Last Sunday, while I was riding Cider at Shannon’s farm, I decided not to use my upper thighs to influence Cider’s spine.  Instead I concentrated my attention on keeping my heels down, thus making my seat more secure.

Well, Cider was quite good.  My work with my upper thighs the last few weeks certainly pain off!  At no time during my ride did Cider scrunch herself up into a pretzel, and while we were not quite as straight she cheerfully accepted contact with both sides of her mouth and was good overall.  I did not get as tired as I do when using my thigh.  By concentrating on my upper body posture, moving my lower leg to nudge the barrel and twitching my fingers I used a lot less energy than when I was moving my upper thighs, especially when I did it alternately during several strides.  My turns were not quite as perfect, but Cider did not use her preferred resistances to my aids.

When I went out to my lesson on Wednesday I was full of hope that Bingo would be as good as Cider, but, alas, all week Bingo had been “unhappy” with the universe and his riders.  As I started my ride at a walk, I just used my upper body posture, my properly timed nudging with my lower leg, and properly timed hand aids, and Bingo just blew through my aids whenever he felt like it.  The rest of the time he reluctantly plodded where I wanted him to go, then all of a sudden he said “I’m not going that way” and he tried to go off toward the inside of the ring.  He trudged going away from the gate and he sped up going toward the gate, and this was especially evident at the trot.  I was trying to avoid triggering an inversion, but I quickly decided that it was more important to get Bingo to rate his speed than worry about how he carried his head.  Some lines of gaited horses will use an inversion to gait before they get physically fit, and Bingo, a half Paso Fino, did not produce a trot with true diagonals.  One hind leg or the other was landing at the wrong time.  Debbie was not happy with Bingo, and I just quietly, with determination, told Bingo he WAS going to obey my aids and go where I wanted him to go, and go at the speed and impulse I desired.

Of course Bingo ended up obeying me, though he may not have looked “pretty” as he obeyed my aids.  We got through the puddle, he went down the center of the ring with a semblance of straightness, and though he bulged through the turns, he went where he was directed.  At the end of my lesson, as we headed to and waited at the gate, he tried to “bull” his way through before I told him to proceed, and we had a minor discussion about standing still and waiting to walk through the gate until I told him to.  After a figure 8 in the barnyard he decided to act in a civilized manner as we slowly walked to the barn.

At the barn Debbie and I discussed Bingo’s recent actions.  She was particularly worried about the wind puff on Bingo’s right hind leg.  Well, on Tuesday I had gone by Dover and bought Bingo a pair of the Back on Tract “Quick Wraps” and a pair of the Back on Track hind exercise boots.  Debbie has been pointing out Bingo’s wind puff every time we tack up, and since Debbie has over 40 years of experience with hundreds of horses I decided that if she thought the problem was in Bingo’s lower hind legs ,these boots might be a good investment towards making Bingo a good riding horse for me.  My “local” Dover store did not have these in Bingo’s size, so I hope they will come in the mail before my lesson next Wednesday.

In other news, I got myself a new saddle.  For over a decade I have been trying to find a suitable saddle for myself that I could get to fit the various horses I ride.  At first, many years ago, I bought a Wintec All Purpose saddle with the six gullet plates.  I did not really enjoy riding in this saddle but I could get a rough fit for the horses.  Next, since I ride some horses that are wider than the gullet plate range of the regular Wintecs, I bought a Wintec Wide with three gullet plates.  I did not enjoy riding in this saddle either, I could not get the frictional grip I can get with a leather saddle and my legs did not fit particularly well with the Wintec stirrup bar and all purpose flap, plus the sub-flap of the Wintecs were so thick that I felt like I was doing splits rather than riding a horse.  I ended up selling both Wintecs on consignment.  Next, I tried a treeless saddle, the EZ -Fit treeless, hoping to make the horses happier while I felt more secure in the saddle.  With the latter saddle, I discovered, due to my lack of balance from my Multiple Sclerosis, that I NEED a tree in the saddle or I end up gradually shifting to one side or the other.  I gave that saddle to Shannon so she would have a saddle to use that would fit her different backed horses when people with a normal sense of balance ride them.

Three years ago I got interested in the Pegasus Butterfly saddle (you can see these at

, or the Face Book Pegasus Butterfly Saddle page.)  These saddles are pricey, but the only other alternative jumping saddles were the Ansur saddles, which are treeless and thus leaving me with my balance problem messing me up, or the Tad Coffin saddle which is even pricier than the Pegasus Butterfly Saddle, and which needs several different and expensive pads to fit all horses.  I finally got enough money together, I called Ronnie, and he told me he had some demo jumping saddles in my size!  So this Tuesday I ordered my Pegasus Butterfly “Claudia” jumping saddle, brown, with two pads with shims (one for each stable) , half hole stirrups leathers and Prussian stirrups (I had the choice of several types of stirrups.)  I could have gotten a leather girth instead of the second pad for the same total price.  My saddle came yesterday, just three days after I ordered it!

So tomorrow I will get to try my new saddle on Cider.  The pad is interesting, it has FOUR pockets for the shims on each side of the pad, and there are one felt shim and two rubbery shims for each pocket, and the shim pockets are on the underside of the pad.  I don’t think I will need any of the shims to fit Cider though I will take them out with me just in case.  I will need the shims for Bingo since his croup is so much higher than his withers, and with this set up I will be able to gradually reduce the thickness of the pad from front to back.  Ronnie told me to ride only at a walk on loose reins for the first hour I use this saddle so that the hinges that allow the saddle to fit many different types of back can loosen up a little.  So I will get to ride Cider around tomorrow at a walk, and I am thinking that maybe when I get too hot in the ring Shannon could walk with me down her lengthy driveway so I can get the rest of the “break-in” hour in the shade.

Read all about it next week!

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran    

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