Some of My Plans Go Bust

Last Sunday I did get to ride, and I continued my experiment to see if just wearing my hanging neck fan was enough so I could ride without my heavy ice vest.

It was not.

I started off the ride with the neck fan “upside down” so that the vents would blow air over my technical fabric cooling shirt. That did not help much at all and I ended up with sweat in my eyes. I turned my neck fan over so the vents blew air over my face but I was sweaty enough that it did not really help much at all. It was hot and humid, and it may have been more humid from the hurricane blowing more humid air inland. I started to get “heat sick” but I made it through most of my ride. Next ride I will wear both my ice vest and my neck fan to see if the combination is better than only wearing my ice vest.

The changing air pressure had triggered Cider's pain from her arthritis. I spent a lot of my ride doing collecting leg aids and my thigh muscles quickly got tired. The collecting leg aids do help her do something that reduces the concussion on her front legs, I just wish that she would learn to do it by herself so I do not end up with super tired legs, covered with sweat. At least my leg muscles got a lot of exercise which is important so I stay strong enough to walk on my own two feet.

So on Friday I was all excited to see the results of wearing both my neck fan and ice vest, however just as I was putting on my right boot Debbie called. Her daughter Meghan, a nurse, had gone into isolation for testing positive for Covid-19. Meghan had not been out to the stable for almost two weeks, but with all the confusion of things starting to open up I was afraid that other people that come through the stable might also be carriers of this insidious virus. Debbie said she called me because my husband and I are older and I am on an immune suppressant, and she was not surprised at all that I decided that getting my lesson in might not be a great idea.

Then I remembered that I had a bag packed with four things I am lending to Debbie long term. Debbie needs this stuff this week, and since I had put all my face mask gear on I told her I was coming out for just a few minutes to give her the bag. When I got there Debbie met me outside and stayed six feet away from me while we talked.

MJ has vividly expressed his opinion that he no longer finds stainless steel bits acceptable. Debbie has a lot of bits hanging on her school horse bridles, and she cycled through them when other people rode MJ. One day she put Coach's bridle on him, the one with the 20mm thick titanium coated single-jointed snaffle, MJ liked the bit and it worked out fine until one day where both Coach and MJ needed to use that bridle at the same time. Now Coach has determined that this one titanium coated bit is the ONLY ONE in the entire universe that he likes, so MJ got a stainless steel full cheek snaffle in his mouth, and MJ was not happy at all. So at my last lesson when Debbie told me about this problem I said that I had gone ahead and bought a second one of that particular titanium coated bit to hold in reserve (someday I'll run into a horse who needs it) and that I would lend it to her for the summer busy season. I'm not using it right now since my Fager bits are working out well so she might as well use it .

When I packed the bag I noticed my spare set of notched leather reins and I thought that MJ might appreciate if his other riders could keep their hands even on the reins. I put them on the bit, and when I showed them to Debbie she was relieved, apparently the reins they had been using for MJ had started unlacing themselves (she thinks a horse may have stepped on them) and this saved her from having to hunt up another set of reins. My notched reins are nice—soft and supple, so MJ's riders should like riding with them.

The next thing I lent Debbie's stable was an XL Fenwick Face Mask with Ears. I had gotten one for each of Shannon's horses and the XL one was for Merlin, the 18.2 hand half draft horse. Merlin died a few months ago so it was collecting dust in Shannon's tack room. At Debbie's stable her daughter Sam had been given a 16.3 hand half draft/half Warm Blood gelding, Zeke. Sam's daughter Addison has been showing him in the jumping classes at show. Sam told me she noticed that quite a few of the jumpers were wearing the Fenwick Face Mask. Then Addison, one day when she was grooming MJ for me, told me the same thing with a sort of wistful tone of voice. Zeke is a big horse, and Addison is not very big, though she is an excellent rider. She had to switch him from a snaffle to an elevator bit to have control in the jumping classes, and now she has to use two sets of reins so she has full control. I remembered about Merlin's old face mask, I explained the situation to Shannon, and Shannon gladly gave the face mask back to me. I know that Merlin was much bigger than Zeke, but he had the same mouth width, 5 3/4”, so I thought the face mask might not be too large for Zeke. I washed it out and put it into my bag, Addison is a gutsy girl and a very good rider but since Zeke is so big I figured that anything that could possibly help make him more responsive would be a good thing.

Debbie was glad to get to try the face mask. She offered to pay me for it if it worked out. She also offered to pay for the titanium coated 20mm snaffle but I said I could not replace it now, I think that I bought the last one available. I want to eventually get it back as it is a bit that should feel comfortable for the vast majority of horses. If I can ever find another one again I will get it, then I can sell that bit to Debbie or do what I normally do, I give the bit to the HORSE with the proviso that she can use it on other horses, but if there is a conflict the horse I give it to has the right to wear it, just like when I gave Coach the original one. I will lend the bit to her for her busy season, but I eventually want it back in my bit box for the next problem child I run into.

We then got into a discussion about the titanium bits. I told her that several people, all experienced riders, had pooh-poohed the titanium bits for various reasons, but that I obviously did not agree with the nay-sayers. Debbie then went on to tell me of their latest victory with her “crazy Arabian” gelding Tercel. Last year, when Debbie had tried all of her bits on Tercel and he had finally consented to be controlled by a Kimberwick I had bought Tercel a titanium coated Kimberwick. Tercel improved out on the trail but they had been avoiding the ring since Tercel has a deep seated phobia against judge's stands, to Tercel judges stands might as well be the gates of Hell. Spooking and bolting were his normal reactions to the judge's stands and his rider had to be PREPARED each and every time they passed the stand. Well Tercel's other rider decided one day last week to try out Tercel in the riding ring again and Tercel BEHAVED EVERY STEP OF THE WAY! He did not spook, he did not try to bolt, he did not give the judge's stands the evil eye, Tercel ignored the existence of the judge's stand!

Debbie is encouraged. Debbie now BELIEVES in the efficacy of the titanium bits. She even mentioned the possibility that I could start riding Tercel again! It has been years since I got up on his back. I have mentioned riding Tercel again several times and lately I told Debbie I would like to introduce Tercel to the double bridle with my titanium double bridle bits. Maybe that will happen now.

If it all works out I will have made two horses happier with life this week. That makes it a good week!

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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