Sometimes Bingo Uses ANY Excuse to Ignore Me

Sometimes Bingo Uses ANY Excuse to Ignore Me

Since Debbie was putting on a horse show on July 4 I had my lesson on Tuesday. Debbie decided that she needed to give her problem child, the Arab gelding Tercel, a ride, and my lesson was the only chance she would have this week. Years ago when she got Tercel I told her I did not mind her riding him during my lessons since Debbie is quite capable of handling her problem child AND criticizing my riding at the same time. Because of the heat and humidity I was not expecting to do much trotting, and Bingo's continued problems with his new wind-puff left him reluctant to trot—if he saw no reason to trot.

So most of my ride was convincing Bingo that he STILL needs to obey me even if other horses are in the ring. All of a sudden his balking/backing up reappeared and a lot of my ride was convincing Bingo that I could get him to obey me even though another horse was in the ring. The heat was definitely affecting me, several times Debbie got after me for carrying my left hand a lot higher than my right hand, and I just did not notice it until she corrected me. Since I now ride just in my “old style” Wellep full cheek snaffle with the super long cable through the bit, Bingo did not get too mad at me about this as he was free to find a comfortable place for his head even when my hands were less than perfect.

But as soon as Tercel entered the ring Bingo figured out that all the “rules” had changed and all of his old evasions came back. First he did not want to go forward. Then he did not want to go in the direction I wanted him to walk. Of course part of this was my fault, I have problems keeping my eyes off of Tercel since Tercel is such a beautiful Arabian AND Tercel is a hunk. After three times of trying to ignore me Bingo started to obey me, all the while muttering under his breath about how unfair I was, how he just did not want to do it, what a meanie I was, and why in the world did I expect him to behave with other horses in the ring! Think 13 year old boy, sullen, defiant, rebel without a cause, and with no desire to cooperate.

Then, just as I was getting Bingo's rather reluctant obedience, more riders came into the ring to warm up for the next lesson, a pre-show group lesson taught by Debbie's daughter. I had to go through all of Bingo's evasions again though it did not take as much time as earlier in my ride. When my 30 minutes was up I was hot, sweaty and tired of convincing Bingo that he has to obey my aids even when 7 other horses were in the ring. On the positive side I was able to walk all the way back to the barn without using my canes, usually in the heat I do not have a choice, I have to use my canes.

Two weeks ago I had started a rather demanding (for me) exercise routine with the Equicube at home during the week of Debbie's first summer camp. As soon as I started riding again I had to cut down severely on my exercise routine. Now I do three mimics of the “rider's push-ups” and then I get into “two point” (as much as I can off a horse) and I practice moving my hands back and forth ten times. I do this one to five times a day depending on how tired I am. During my ambitious week I noticed that when I was mimicking the “rider's push-up” that my hips were not steady, something that I am sure irritates the horses when I do my two-point on them. When I was mimicking keeping contact at a walk I noticed that my hands did not stay even and each hand was moving a little bit though both of them were holding the Equicube. So this week I am concentrating on TRYING to keep my hips stable while keeping a proper lower leg position, “gripping” with my calves, as I sink down into the push-up and when I rise back up, and I do this exercise slowly, when I did it fast I did not notice how unsteady my hip joints were! When I mimic keeping contact I concentrate on my hands, trying to keep them even and stable as I move them back and forth. I am seeing some minuscule improvement at home, and I think keeping up these exercises helped me be strong enough so I could walk to the barn after my lesson without my canes.

All this exercising at home is making me much more tired than usual, I am having to take a lot more naps. My goals are to get back to cantering this fall, and eventually to go over low jumps, things I've been just too weak to do for years. I figure that if I can get strong enough this year to canter this fall it will be worth it. I do know that the past six summers or so I came out so weak each fall that it took me until the next heat wave to get my now normal strength back, and I have not progressed much over the years.

Maybe this fall I will canter. That would be worth all the extra naps I've had to take lately. That would be progress instead of another whole year of doing the same old thing.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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