In Spite of the Heat

Hot, muggy weather, I deteriorate in the heat. I tend to deteriorate so much in the heat that I generally assume that summer is just not the time for me to make any changes with the horses because I am so afraid that I will give the horses an excuse to resist me.

Maybe I was worrying too much.

I finally tried Cider with the Fager Bianca titanium double-jointed roller snaffle last Sunday. I was surprised by her reaction.

Cider had NO resistances to my hands. I felt no resistances from her tongue, I felt no resistances from her lower jaw, she did not stiffen up anywhere and at times I felt like I was riding without a bit in her mouth. The thing is that before I tried the Bianca on her I would have sworn that Cider did not have any major resistances to normal contact. I just did not realize those resistances were there until they disappeared. She did not even resist much backing up. Stopping was easy with no “discussions” about when and where I wanted her to stop.

Maybe the Bianca is Cider's “magic bit.”

On Monday I was eagerly awaiting the promised delivery of my neck “air-conditioner.” It did not come. It still has not come. I am p*ssed, I am irate, and getting worse every day. I wanted to see if it worked at all, and I had dreams of maybe, just maybe, feeling cool enough that I would not have to wear my heavy ice vest. Maybe next week.

On Friday I got to ride MJ in the double bridle again. I was sort of worried because the heat was getting to me, luckily all of Debbie's family understands how bad I get in the summer. Her granddaughter Addison groomed MJ for me after asking if she could use my grooming tools. Addison likes my grooming tools and she liked that they were all in one bag, she did not have to search around the barn for anything. Debbie appeared and told me that she had used a new wormer on her itchy horses (Ivermectin (sp?) Gold) and that Sam had told her that when MJ was used in a lesson last week he had caused no problems when his rider groomed him. MJ was still itchy, but it was much, much better. While he still wanted to rub his butt against the wash stall walls he stopped when he was told to and he actually consented to stand quietly in the wash stall.

MJ assented to Addison bridling him, and he did not make any fuss when I fine tuned where his curb bit rested in his mouth. I lengthened it a little bit so the mouthpiece of the curb was directly above his curb groove, and we finally achieved some separation of the two bits in his mouth. MJ discovered that he had a new source of amusement, now he can get a little “click” when he manipulates the bits with his tongue.

I knew that Debbie wanted to see MJ trot in the double bridle so I make good and sure I did it early in my lesson. I did need to do some urging with my legs, MJ was not really sure that I wanted to go faster since we had spent so much time just walking, but when I hit my leg with the crop he got the message. We trotted in both directions just a little bit then I was TIRED.

In spite of the heat, in spite of me getting really tired, in spite of my worsening hand tremor, and in spite of me having difficulties with keeping my hands at the same level, MJ had no objections to the double bridle.

He took contact fine, and it was a lighter contact than what he gives me with only a snaffle in his mouth. It used to be, with just the snaffle in his mouth, that his mouth felt a little hard, but with two bits in his mouth he was so much lighter on the bradoon. I only had to tweak the curb rein once or twice for slowing down, halting, and backing up. MJ is a rather pleasant ride when his is light in the bridle. This is what I am now calling “the magic of the double bridle”, the horse improving in contact and obedience just because there are two bits in his mouth even when I don't use the curb rein at all.

I must have been slouching some because Debbie started talking about the Equicube. She did not have me carry it on Friday because she saw that my hands were full in the heat with two sets of reins, my crop and the RS-tor strap. She told me how much she enjoyed using the Equicube with her other students, how riders with slumping backs just magically straighten themselves up without her having to say a word when they carry the Equicube. I repeated my belief that riders, especially dressage riders who take multiple lessons a week trying to get everything right could drop several of those lessons because the carrying the Equicube seems to correct a lot of what is wrong with the rider's posture even when the rider is all alone in the ring. Both of us agree that the Equicube is the only thing we have run into that advertises itself as a riding aid for the rider actually works as advertised.

So I wait at home hoping against hope that my neck air-conditioner will arrive, someday. At least I do not totally require it to ride with a double bridle in the heat, something that I never thought would happen again in my life.

As I keep telling myself, riding with a double bridle is not rocket science. The horses seem to understand it fine. I think that a lot of people who have problems with their horses reacting badly to their hands might find that their problems start going away if they change to a double bridle and lighten up with their contact, keeping the curb reins sagging.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on July 30, 2020 at 8:28am

Yes, light and graceful contact, that is one of my goals with every horse and with every bit.

My neck thingie came, it isn't AC but the fans will give me an added breeze, especially when I rest at the halt.

Comment by B. G. Hearns on July 30, 2020 at 8:09am

Glad you are surviving the heat. I wholeheartedly agree with what you say of curb reins and double-bridles. I see dressage riders -- even at the highest levels -- pulling far too much on them. Photographs of great riders from the early 20th C all show shallow loops in their reins, yet nowadays judges penalize riders who have such graceful, light contact.

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