I Try Another Bit with Bingo

Hot, humid weather down here in the South. The lows have been in the mid 70's F, which sounds really pleasant until I open my front door into a sauna. I really appreciate being able to ride earlier in the morning during the summer heat, but the humidity tends to be worse earlier in the morning. My ice vest is really helping me to cope with the heat, I am so glad I went ahead and got it for this summer.

One of the reasons I got the ice vest was the hope that with it my hands would stay fit for riding in a double bridle. Wednesday was a really good day to test this, even with the ice vest my face started sweating during grooming. Bingo is still shedding a lot of hair (probably Cushing's disease but the Cushing's feed does not seem to be working,) and hair is still flying from his coat as we groom him. I do extra work on Bingo's back where the saddle pad goes trying to reduce the large amount of hair that it tends to pick up. After Debbie curries and brushes him I go over his back with the Tiger's Tongue, a jelly scrubber, the Griot's Garage Silicone Interior Brush (good for picking up pet hair,) and my Haas Diva Exclusive brush with the lamb's wool center. This has reduced the amount of hair my BOT saddle pad picks up, but in no way has it eliminated gobs of hair on the saddle pad. This work made me hot even before I got up on Bingo's back.

I successfully used the double bridle on Bingo without irritating his mouth during my lesson. There were still remnants of his resistances from being ridden during Debbie's summer camp but nothing I could not deal with easily. Bingo was very reluctant to move out. Once I got myself up into two-point, used a tiny bit of spur pressure with my alternating legs, and tapped my half-chaps with my crop he finally consented to stretching his walking stride a little bit.

It was a wonderful day to work on stabilization, I did not have to check his speed too much and got to explain to Bingo that stabilization also works on going slower than the rider wants to. It was also a wonderful day for working on the “counted walk”, I had to give a light leg aid every step to keep him moving but I did not have to do much with my hand aids as he deliberately crawled around the ring one step at a time in response to my aids. From his super sluggish reaction to my leg aids asking to move back to a regular walk I think that Bingo would have been willing to go on walking around the ring, one deliberate step at a time.

When I walked to the far end of the ring Bingo decided he did not want to go there at all. Twice I had to persuade him with calmly applied aids that I really expected him to go around the far jump, something he has done regularly during the past few months. His attitude was “I don't want to and you can't make me” and every step around that jump was done with great reluctance, but I got him to do it.

At the trot Bingo was back to his regular QH shuffle/jog, requiring several leg aids to get him to move at a decent speed. This week Bingo did not feel like a rocket ship taking off when he went into the trot and I had no problems with great speed when we trotted off contact. Wednesday ride was in no way “exciting”, Bingo stayed calm in his defiance, and he stayed mostly calm when he finally obeyed my aids. An interesting note, when Bingo asked me to let him stretch his neck I did not loosen the curb rein enough, he “met” the curb bit and he continued stretching his neck out with no gaping, inversions or other signs of discomfort. He just does not seem to mind the curb bit when I am on the other end of the reins.

For my homework ride I decided to try another bit. Bingo's responsiveness had suffered with the Cambridge mouth snaffle, and while he did not think that bit was “cruel” in any way he also did not think that bit had much “authority” over him. I settled on my single-jointed titanium coated egg-butt snaffle which is 18mm thick, a nice gentle bit (Bingo does not enjoy double-jointed snaffles.) I was pretty sure Bingo would find this bit acceptable, after all the OTTB Coach who loathes bits finds this bit acceptable and goes better in it.

Bingo liked this new bit. Even though it was 1/4” too wide that did not seem to bother him at all. He picked up contact readily, his turns in place improved greatly over what he gave me my last few rides, and he returned to mostly “finger-tip” control. Whew!

During my ride Debbie's lesson group came into the ring, one at a time until all six students were in the ring, then Debbie came out leading her “problem child” Arab Tercel. I checked to make sure that no one minded me being in the ring with them. For once Bingo did not get irritated that other horses were sharing HIS ring while I kept out of their way. I paid attention to Tercel having seem him be really unhappy about being in the ring months ago, but Debbie was using the titanium coated ported Kimberwick I gave Tercel, the “liquid titanium” Fenwick Face Mask with Ears, the D'yon blinkers, the running martingale, and Debbie's endurance saddle that was fitted to him, and Tercel looked like a nice calm horse anyone could ride, standing unheld as Debbie helped get her students situated. Right before she mounted I got off of Bingo and I stayed to watch her ride Tercel for a few minutes while my husband took Bingo back to the barn.

Tercel is a beautiful “hunk” of an Arabian, and he is so drop dead gorgeous when he is happy under saddle. I happily watched Debbie ride Tercel around on loose reins at the walk as she checked all of her students out, and he strode forth confidently and freely, obeying her light aids willingly and promptly. Considering that Tercel has proven himself supremely capable of throwing a fit if he is not happy I was really glad to see him calmly deal with all the other horses in the ring. Debbie has done a good job of training him, and all of those miles and wet saddle pads getting him fit for distance rides have done him a lot of good.

Next week Debbie will be gone. I might get a lesson from her daughter, Sam, if she has enough people to help her deal with the stable. If I learn I can get a lesson from Sam I will use the double bridle for it to show Sam how I work the double bridle with Bingo. Otherwise I will use the titanium coated “rainbow” egg-butt single-jointed snaffle on him to work on the slow gaits that are suitable for riding in high humidity as the sweat runs down into my eyes. Hopefully Bingo won't change his mind about this snaffle since he really needs a gentle snaffle but hates double-jointed snaffles and is not terribly responsive in the Cambridge mouth snaffle or a Mullen mouth snaffle. Maybe, just maybe I have finally found a gentle enough bit that Bingo is willing to carry in his mouth and obey.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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