After last week’s balmy spring like weather in the 70’s we have had 2.2” of rain, a trace of snow, and I won’t be able to have my lesson next Wednesday because it will go down to 17° F.  I remember when I was young that winter got cold after the fall and generally STAYED cold until springtime.  No longer, and it is hard for me to adapt to all the temperature changes.

Wednesday I made the type of progress with Mick that a person does not want, I discovered why he’s been so girthy and why it suddenly got worse.  Debbie had groomed him and I was doing his Ttouches when I felt something just at the end of the sternum right where the girth goes.  I got a curry comb and got the hair all straightened out but I still felt something, like a few really small grapes.   I called Debbie over and showed her, she probed around a little and said that the little lumps were right under the skin, and were not bit enough to be noticeable when brushed, which is why no one had noticed them yet.  She muttered something about gray horses and melanomas, I looked at Mick and realized that if they were operated on Mick would be out of commission for weeks/months.  I do not think little lumps have been there very long, Mick’s girthiness got worse three weeks ago, I guess that is when they started growing.  So I moved the saddle back a little trying (and failing) to avoid putting the girth on them.  Of course I failed, girths on English saddles tend to migrate to the girth groove no matter where you put them on the barrel.  Mick did not object to being girthing up much more than the week before in spite of all the probing, so Debbie decided it would be OK for me to ride.

Since I have been staying home all the time avoiding the flu I have not gotten much exercise the last two weeks.  Debbie noticed that I was weaker, less steady and my stamina was a lot worse so Mick and I did not do anything more exciting than a few short trots.  Now that I know what has been bothering Mick I am overcome with admiration for him, he had this hidden problem developing, but when ridden he had consistently tried to do his best, and after the girth was tightened he did not protest moving out in spite of the fact that the girth must have been bothering him.  I hope that we can resolve this issue, once the girth area stops bothering him we should see what an amazing horse Mick is when everything is right.  He responded to my leg aids, he accepted contact, and he did everything I asked him to.  I guess it is good that I do not have the energy to do much, it means that I do not try to go beyond what Mick is willing to give me.  During the lesson Debbie asked me to look in my homeopathy books to see if there was anything we could use that could make him more comfortable, and, more importantly, work from the inside out.  Later I searched my homeopathy books for over an hour and I found ONE remedy that seemed to fit Mick, and I only have it in an Anxiety and Nervousness combination remedy (over the counter.)  Well, Mick certainly been slightly nervous when groomed and when we put the saddle on his back, and very anxious about being girthed up!  I told Debbie I would lend her the remedy if Mick’s owner wants to try it.

Thursday we had rain, more rain, and then it poured down even harder, then it snowed some.  The ponds filled up and the streams filled their banks.  When I woke up Friday morning it was below freezing, and I decided that with over 2 inches of rain Debbie’s ring would be quite wet and possibly slippery.  My son was worried that Mia would slip and hurt herself, or that I would hurt something trying to stay on if she did slip in the ring.  So I called Debbie and canceled my ride.  If you haven’t noticed I have not been using the Ttouches on Mia since I was sort of using her as a control.  However Mia’s infatuation with the new mare Quizzy is apparent with every ride and she has stopped improving, so I was going to introduce Mia to the Ttouches on Friday hoping for a positive response.  Maybe the weather will cooperate and I can try them next week.  I hope they work, I want my old Mia back so I can ride her on the mini trail without Quizzy around!!!!

Today it is nice and sunny, still winter but winter with plenty of sunshine.  At least it did not go below freezing last night.  Shannon’s arena was still soggy from all the rain we had so all we could do was walk.  I got Bobby’s Ttouches done and I changed my procedure a little, instead of going UP the neck at first I started just behind his poll and went DOWN his neck, back, croup and down his haunches on both sides.  I also did his shoulder circles from the top down.  Doing these Ttouches is paying off big time, Bobby is still progressing in a positive direction!  Of course there were some problems during my ride, but the problems are not as big, not as unyielding, and they don’t last as long as they did before!  We just piddled around the ring until Nancy, Shannon’s mother, came in on Cider, and with the gate closed I proceeded to ask Bobby to move out at the walk.  I had to use a lot less leg to keep Bobby walking on.  When Bobby started to turn himself into a pretzel (on loose reins) I got positive results with much lighter thigh and lower leg signals, and he would mostly straighten himself without me having to use the reins.  Backing up was rough and reluctant the first time, by the third time he backed up a full stride with light rein and leg signals.  He did not get bothered when the chickens decided to come into the ring, and he did not get bothered whenever I rode close to or away from Cider.  His main fault today was his usual craning his head around when he wanted to go to Shannon.  I worked on a few circles, the one around the barrel looked like a circle but the one around Shannon was a long muted discussion that did not resemble a circle at all.  Then I worked on Bobby keeping an even contact with both reins both around the ring and when passing right by Shannon.  Gradually, as I got myself together and started to keep contact decently, Bobby got better at responding to my leg and rein signals and finally walked right past Shannon with even contact on both sides of the bit.  With that bit of perfection I stopped our ride.

When I was at Shannon’s I lent Nancy one of my Ttouch books (Getting In Ttouch) so she could study about the circles and other techniques Linda Tellington-Jones has for helping horses, especially the ground work.  I am too weak and unsteady to do ground work so I have to leave that for other people.  Nancy has been mostly into Natural Horsemanship techniques and has done a good bit of ground work with Shannon’s horses.  I am hoping that Nancy gets into the Ttouch method and does some with both Cider and Merlin before I start riding them again (I am still saving up for my treeless saddle, there is plenty of time.)  Especially Merlin, it would be so nice if he was not looking at most people as evil abusers of horses to be defiantly disobeyed (balking) whether there is abuse or not.  He has a real nice walk when he consents to move, and I am looking forward to riding it again.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran   





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