Gee, this is my 200th blog! When I started blogging here on Barnmice over four years ago I never imagined that I could find enough to write about to make it to 200 blogs. I want to thank all of my readers for reading my blogs each week.
Last week I had decided that feelings of security were more important than feeling cool. That idea just lasted one ride. Debbie could not give me my regular lesson because she had wrenched her back and needed to rest, so I decided to ride Mia on Tuesday. I put on my FITS Duet breeches for my ride figuring I could handle the heat. By the time I got to trimming Mia’s feet I knew I had made a mistake. The temperature was in the mid-70’s F but the humidity was also in the mid-70s and I was sweating like a race horse. I only managed rasp Mia’s front feet, then I was just too exhausted to even try to trim her hind hooves. We tacked up, I doused Mia with fly spray, put on her ear bonnet, and went out to ride.
Mia WAS NOT HAPPY. The sun was shining, the gnats were horrendous and even though I had covered every part of Mia with fly spray it was not enough to deal with the gnats. Even though the gnats could not get into Mia’s ears because of the fly bonnet, she could still hear them buzzing around her head. As we went around the ring I was desperately trying to wave the gnats away from my eyes and ears as Mia was slinging her head up and down in a fruitless attempt to scare the gnats away. Trying to take advantage of the awful circumstances I practiced my two point while keeping a soft, constant contact with Mia’s slinging head. She tried to cooperate with my contact, I even got two strides of the walk with her head steady until the gnats got too much for her, again. Since I was by then dripping with sweat I stopped trying to keep contact, there was too much chance that I would accidentally “hit” her mouth.
Then the gnats got even worse and Mia started flinging her head around with greater vigor and she shook her ear bonnet off of her ears. As I reached forward to try to fix it the gnats in her ears caused her to shake her head even more and I accidentally got hold of her brow band, which ended up behind her ears which made her shake her head even harder. I called for my husband to come and help me because I was afraid that Mia would shake her bridle off her head. When he got to me I decided that it was all too much for me and got off after only 10 minutes of riding. My husband hurried Mia into the barn while I slowly trudged after them. When I finally dragged myself up to the wash stall I asked Darryl if I really had to pay for the 10 minute ride, he said I didn’t since the gnats were so bad and because I had taken care of Mia before riding. By the time I got home I decided that while the extra security of the deerskin patches was marvelous it would not do me much good when I got too heat sick to ride effectively. I am putting my deerskin full seat breeches away until it gets cooler. I’ll just have to learn to deal with less security in the saddle.
Friday I was prepared. I dug out my old scrim face masks with the ears, washed them and picked the one with the “fleece” on the noseband for Mia. Then I doused the ears and face of the mask with a DEET mosquito spray and I covered my helmet, ears and face with it too. This worked, I had a MUCH better ride! I also switched back to my FITS Treads Lite breeches, smearing a good bit of the old-fashioned saddle soap on the breeches, the flaps of my saddle, and on both sides of the stirrup leathers. I was not as secure as in my breeches with the deerskin panels but I was a LOT cooler. Since the saddle soap was increasing the grip of the breeches I was able to keep my knees in the knee rolls and my weight in the front part of the saddle though I had to work harder to keep them there.
Again I worked on my two-point a lot, at a walk and at the trot, keeping contact with the bit and on loose reins. Friday I concentrated on keeping my ankle cocked (so someone on the ground could see the soles of my boots) and I discovered a new muscle on the inside of my thigh that got quite tired. Mia had started off stiff and it took her a while to warm up, and even when she did she was not moving as smoothly as normal. I experimented with my seat and I finally got decent movement when I got my weight both out of the stirrups and off the seat of the saddle, and then Mia was perfectly happy to give me the best movement she was capable of that day. This reminded me of riding bareback decades ago, when keeping a two-point position bareback my weight and grip were on my lower thigh, the back of the inside of my knee joint, and my upper calf. I could not manage that for long on Friday, but at least I was strong enough to do it for a little while. I would not have been able to do the two-point with no weight in the stirrups at all last year, and I would not have been able to do it on Friday without the extra grip from the saddle soap I smeared on the gripping areas of my breeches. At least I am making progress in spite of the heat!
Amazingly I did not end up with sore muscles from all of this.
The weather down here had been unreal. Because of all the rain we have been getting it has stayed in the 80’s F but the humidity has been very, very high. Even in the morning, when it is in the mid-70’s F, I start sweating the minute I get out of the air conditioning. My farm has gotten over 4 inches of rain in the last two weeks and the land is saturated, but we are lucky, some places in Charlotte, NC got over 4 inches of rain in one HOUR with lots of flooding. Shannon’s land has stopped absorbing water and she told me it was covered with puddles, so I did not get to ride today. Next week it will dry up but it is also going to get up into the 90’s F. Luckily there is supposed to be less humidity, at least until the next batch of rain comes around.
Next week I should get to ride Mick again in my EZ-Fit treeless saddle. His back seems to move a lot more freely under the EZ-Fit saddle than it does under my old Stubben, and I do not have to use my legs as much to keep him moving. This will help me deal with the greater heat, but I am sure that Debbie will have to get after me about my lower leg since I won’t be able to “glue” my leg against a saddle flap. All my security will have to come from my lower thigh, knees, and my frictional grip against the stirrup leathers. This is when proper position becomes REALLY important. Thankfully I can always count on Debbie insisting that I stay in a good position.
Have a great ride!