I get chided a lot from my riding buddies, particularly Jean, that I take too long to tack up. It takes me about 30 minutes start to finish. It takes her about 15 minutes. She rides a school horse who is regularly groomed. Gem is only groomed when I see him, so it's important to take a little more time. I have a routine that I go through and if I miss a step or don't do it to my quality specifications, it bothers me. Hmmm, perhaps I have some sort of obsessive/compulsive disorder. But, I think Gem is worth the attention. For instance, I give Gem a decent brush when I see him, which is two or three times a week. I brush him before I ride him and after. I clean his hooves before and after I ride, also. I take a minute to check him for lumps and bumps and I spend a few minutes loving him (see Breakthrough), so he doesn't feel rushed. He actually likes getting groomed.
Another time consumer for me is actually getting the equipment to where he is cross-tied. I have to drag my grooming supplies, saddle blankets, saddle and bridle out of the tack room and down to the end of the barn.
I know that you are supposed to warm up the bit before you place it in your horse's mouth. I know this and as I remove the bridle from its peg, I say to myself "don't forget to warm the bit!" But, do you think I remember to warm the bit?? I remember as I am getting ready to put the bridle on him! I frantically put the bit in my hand and give it 5 nano seconds of warming up before Jean asks me if I am ready to go. Gem patiently takes the bit in his mouth and off we go. Bad mommy! Bad mommy!
So the last time I rode Gem, I had a brilliant idea. As soon as I picked the bridle off its peg, I folded it up along with the reins, lifted up my shirts and put the half of the bridle that had the bit attached down my pants. OK, it wasn't "down my pants"! It was placed in the layer between my breeches and my snow pants. I pulled my shirts back down. The waistband of my snow pants held everything securely against my stomach. Cold leather and metal - not a great feeling against your body, even through my winter weight breeches! But, I was quite pleased with myself knowing that Gem was going to have the warmest bit ever.
There was a clinic going on at the stables on this particular day. Everyone was hanging out in the arena. I was alone in the barn except for one clinic participant, who was finishing tacking up. I am not sure if she saw me struggling to put my bridle down my pants. The light is not great at the back of the barn. I was taking advantage of the better light at her end of the barn, so I was facing her while I was stuffing it down. I'm thinking she probably did.
I went back to getting my boy ready for our trail ride. I guess all the movement from grooming made my bridle slip lower and lower from the security of my waistband. By the time I was ready to put the bridle on Gem, it had slipped down my leg and was now hovering around my knee in between the layers of my clothing. Crap. The reins were still poking out the top of my pants. As I mentioned, the lighting is not the best where I cross-tie Gem, so I waddled closer to the front of the barn. I undid the snaps and fly zipper of my snow pants, pulled them down a bit, grabbed the reins and started pulling. Just as the rest of Gem's tack came out of my pants, one of the other clinic participants walked in. I did an about face and headed back to Gem, a very warm bridle and bit in hand, holding the front of my snow pants to stop them from falling down.
Again, I am not sure if this other clinic participant actually saw the bridle coming out of my pants. I suspect she did. This is the conversation I envision between the two clinic participants during lunch break:
First: I saw a rider with her bridle down her pants this morning.
Second: I did too! What's with that?
First: I think she may have been warming her horse's bit.
Second: No kidding! I haven't heard of warming it that way before. Have you?
First: No. But you know, LA is very up-to-date on everything horse related. I wonder if she suggested this method to the rider.
Second: Well, when you think about it, if you stick your bridle down your pants it warms the leather too, making your reins and bridle more flexible.
First: True. You going to ask LA about it?
Second: No way! I don't want her to think that I am an idiot because I don't know about these methods!
First: Agreed. I am going to try it when I get home.
Second: Me, too.
What was I thinking.....?