On Friday I Forgot My Ice Vest

Southern summer, hot and humid, mid 90s for highs, mid to high 70s when I ride, and the air feels like you could carve it with a knife.

After hearing my story of my minor adventures with Bingo during my homework ride, Debbie decided on Wednesday that it was time for a lesson in the 2nd ring. Of course Bingo behaved about going through the gate, Debbie, lead mare of lead mares, had told him to go through it. I did have to raise my right leg high to avoid hitting the gatepost, but he did not balk. Yeah, success!

This time Bingo gave me a much better ride. He remembered all my aids and mostly obeyed them within reasonable time. I had made one change to the shimming of my pad, I took out one of the bridging shims and put in the shoulder shims which reach back far enough to fill in the lowest part of his back underneath it. Debbie noticed a difference when she girthed him up, but Bingo did not seem to mind it at all. I changed the shims to see if it would make any difference to my lower legs which I have been carrying too far back. Debbie did not get after my legs like usual, and she told me that she did see my heels coming down further, but it was hard to see since I was riding with my stirrups home.

One big difference with Bingo was in the leg-yield. Before he had crossed his front legs properly but did not really cross his hind legs. This time Debbie said that Bingo started crossing his hind legs even though I did not get into a half-seat. The way I had set up the shims, with the long front shim underneath and the bridging shim over it in front and sticking out in back, better followed the line of his back where it rapidly swoops up from right behind the saddle. Bingo may have crossed his hind legs better because I gave his back more room for movement and reduced the effect of my weight on his back. Little changes in tack can often bring about big improvements, horses tend to be very picky about what goes on their bodies.

All was not smooth sailing though. Bingo seemed uncertain about how to do the turns in place at first, though he did improve by the third step. He was fine with contact on the bradoon rein, and I did not have to tweak the curb rein except the first halt or two. Basically Bingo was cooperative, for him, and reasonably obedient.

Friday I forgot my ice vest and I did not realize it until half-way through my ride. I got to ride in the main ring, and I went in full of confidence. However Bingo was “stickier”, his responses were not as generous, and he “forgot” my alternating bradoon reins aid for the halt. Thinking back about my ride it is obvious to me that my body did not work as well in the heat as it does when I wear the ice vest, and I think Bingo was reacting to that. I schooled him at the halt, at least he understood my alternating reins somewhat, and he did not get too irritated at me when I prevented him from plowing his way to his preferred place in the ring, pressing his breast up against the gate. He was not as generous with extending his stride at the walk and I had to keep on using my lower leg to get even a little extension.

By half-way through my ride I was sweating heavily and I was very glad I was wearing my coolest riding clothes. I notice a difference in how well I react to the heat when I ride in my Flow Rise Kerrit tights compared to the Kerrits Ice Flow tights, the Kerrits Flow Rise tights are definitely cooler, my sweat evaporates better, and since I have the Rider Grips on my saddle I have solved the problems I had with sliding around the saddle when I use the Flow Rise tights. However I would have ridden Bingo much better if I had remembered my ice vest!

Horses notice the littlest things with our riding. My experience on Friday was a good reminder that when I suddenly have problems with a horse I should check MYSELF first, to see if my body is working as well as it normally does. Bingo was reacting to the worsening of my MS symptoms from the heat, my worsening balance, my greater in-coordination, and my shifting position in the saddle. Bingo just ignored my worsening signals at first and took a little advantage of my problems, but he was not mean about it in any way. If Bingo had any generosity in his disposition when young it was thoroughly squashed by inferior training and even worse riding, so I cannot assume ever that he will respond generously to my aids. I take comfort in the fact that while Bingo was not happy with my riding he did not decide to show me that I know nothing at all about riding or horses, something that several horses in my life have been all too happy to show me no matter how much experience I have. He did not respond generously, it was my fault, and I rewarded him for his cooperation even though it was not as good as during previous rides.

Next week I will make sure to remember my ice vest!

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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