Happy New Year!

May this year be much better than the last two years for all of us.

Sorry for the break the last few weeks, my sons and their families visited for the holidays. I did get to ride, weather permitting, and I got all my riding lessons in.

Not much happened, MJ had a short bout of “is there something wrong with his right front leg?” so my lessons were not exciting. Of course with his navicular disease the first suspect is the hoof, but after watching me ride him Debbie thought it was his knee, and she treated it. She got the farrier out and he said that hoof had no problem and he thought it could be the knee. Otherwise all my excitement came from the Haas brushes, I just spared you all from two weeks of paeans about the Haas brushes and little else.

The Haas brushes/curry comb are GOOD. MJ now allows me to curry him without signs of agitation, and he is getting to enjoy being brushed. Debbie taes less time to clean his front hooves out with the Haas Joker hoof pick, which pleases MJ because he does not like his hoof being held up for long (old guy with creaky joints.) Debbie's personal riding horse, the “crazy” black Arab gelding Tercel, now ENJOYS being groomed, no restless shifting around, no minor threat movements, and no dirty looks (“watch it lady!) Debbie is SO HAPPY about this. I think MJ and Tercel are the two horses at the stable with the most sensitive skin, and they both really like being brushed with the Haas brushes. In one of the reviews I read the person said that advice for new horse owners should include getting a set of the Haas brushes, as in the horse will cause fewer problems being groomed and will end up enjoying it.

MJ was sounder for my lesson on Wednesday. Debbie had to finish something up (fewer workers because of it being Christmas week) and her granddaughter had started grooming MJ. He was clean but I wanted to check how he reacted to me using the Haas New Generation soft curry comb, and he did fine. I brushed off his back some more with the Haas Cavaliere (I could not find my Haas Military brush, oh well it appeared later) and he did not seem to mind it at all. We then got him tacked up and all his BOT/Fenwick extra stuff on, Debbie appeared and I got my lesson.

MJ was much better. He willingly extended his stride some at the walk, and he trotted mostly sound (Debbie had to look closely for the head bob, I did not feel it in the reins.) During our third trot, when I asked him to lengthen his trotting stride some (tweaking the sagging curb rein at the top of the post, using both legs when I sat down) he extended his stride some, got off his forehand, and moved with more IMPULSE than ever before under me, it felt like he was starting to fly. Unfortunately after a few minutes it started to feel to me like he was “stabbing” the ground with his front hooves, so we went back to the walk and I had no difficulties getting him to extend his walking stride again.

Towards the end of my lesson Debbie started to tell me that MJ greatly prefers my double bridle (with the Fager titanium bits) to any snaffle bit including the titanium snaffle bits. I think part of this is that with the double bridle MJ is no longer confused about what I mean with a rein aid. Since he is not as anxious about giving me the “wrong” reaction to my hand aids he becomes much more cheerful about being ridden. He does not resist the action of the double bridle bits at all, his jaw remains relaxed, he moves his tongue in a relaxed manner, and he proceeds fearlessly around the ring. He most definitely is not worried about my hands, and that is reflected in his whole demeanor and in how he moves under me. Another win for using the double bridle! This is so in spite of my considerable problems with my hands, balance and coordination, he feels more secure with the two bits in his mouth.

Debbie LIKES how I ride her lesson horses, and she likes how the horses move better under me.

Hopefully soon I will start getting a third ride in most weeks. It will have to be on Thursdays which means I will be riding two days in a row. Debbie said they will help me with the grooming on Thursday so I won't get too tired, but I anticipate feeling exhausted a lot more until my body gets used to the increased activity. The first few months I will be mostly walking, I'll be too tired to do anything more.

Since the Eqclusive company in England had an after Christmas sale I bought myself their “Shining” pack, with brushes that are good for horses of all colors and instructions of which brushes and in which order work best to get various horses CLEAN. This company sells packs for dark bays and blacks, chestnuts and bright bays, and for gray horses, the shinning pack includes all the brushes for each color horse. The brushes in the packs are supposed to be improved and I am eagerly awaiting delivery. This means that I can give Debbie's stable more Haas brushes, the Lipizzaner, the Cavaliere, the Schimmel, the Military, and the Parcour and whichever curry comb comes in the pack. She gets the older type brushes, I'll keep the new improved ones. They all work better than any other brush I've used in the past 50 years and more of Debbie's lesson horses will be happier about being groomed.

Win, win, win. The ONLY things that got an equivalent YES from the horses have been the titanium bits, the double bridle, and my Micklem bridle with the chin strap cut off.

Make your horse happy.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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Comment by B. G. Hearns on January 20, 2022 at 7:00am

Happy New Year, Jackie. I hope your riding goes well.

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