I Did Too Much for my MS

I have one personality trait that does NOT go well with having MS, I tend to be too ambitious for my own good. When I start physical work I try to start of sort of slow, but my ambition drives me to do just a little bit more, then a little bit more. This always ends up the same way, I get into a deep exhaustion and all progress comes to a screeching halt.

Even though I was still recovering from getting a broken tooth dug out of my lower jaw I got up to 20 minutes a day for 7 days on my Home Horse using an old jumping saddle. I spent 5 minutes with my feet in the stirrups and 15 minutes with my feet flat on the platform. I was progressing with the time I could spend in 2-point, how many times I could “post” in a row, and moving my pelvis as if I was sitting on the back of a horse that is walking at a decent speed.

I did not realize how much this was tiring me out until I did my homework ride on Monday. Since the ring was really sloppy and because MJ would be ridden again that afternoon, Debbie asked me to stay at the walk. Luckily when I got to the barn Merry could help me groom and tack up MJ because I found the car ride to the stable extremely tiring.

By the time I walked out to the ring and mounted MJ I was pretty much wiped out. I did a minute or two of 2-point, then we just walked at a decent speed around the ring first using my bridoon reins for contact. After meandering around the jumps for a little while I switched to keeping contact with just the curb reins. I had no problems with contact on either bit, MJ reached out, kept the contact, and obeyed all my rein aids. Any energy I had disappeared and I did not have enough oomph to get MJ to extend his walk.

And when I dismounted I felt wrung out. We walked to the stable and I quickly found a chair and sat down while everyone else dealt with untacking and brushing MJ off.

Collapsed in my bed at home I realize I had been overdoing it with my HH and this was definitely affecting me when I rode MJ. I felt so much weaker than usual, I had a harder time synchronizing my pelvis with MJ's back, and I felt like a handicapped passenger rather than a real rider. I decided that my body needed a pretty long break from “riding” my Home Horse, and that when I started riding my HH again I would need to ride it a much shorter time each day, maybe 5 minutes or so.

The Home Horse can be used by a rider for several things. Its main use is refining a rider's balance and proprioception of balance. The rider can also use it to do other riding-like movements like “walking”, 2-point or 3-point at the “walk”, and “posting” at the “walk”. I think for the near future I better just use my HH for learning how to balance myself better, that is pretty tiring for me just by itself.

All hope of effective equestrian exercise at home is not lost! On the COTH Forum somebody posted about the “Anywhere Saddle Chair” from Wendy Murdoch's web site https://murdochmethod.com/product/anywhere-saddle-chair-practice-yo.... I ordered myself one (less than $200.00 US) on New Year's Eve and it came January 5 for a very quick delivery.

This saddle chair is made to be used on any stable and firm chair, or other stable place like a mounting block. There is a separate base, and the seat has an 1/8 sphere that rests on the base. It does not feel stable at all under my seat bones when I sit on it much like the Home Horse, with its similar base, never feels stable under me.

This piece of equipment's specialty is developing muscles in the rider's core. The seat moves with every breath I take, when I lean forward or back, when I lean to one side or another, and this happens even when I am sitting still. I am continually making balancing movements with my seat and torso when I sit on this saddle chair.

And with this piece of exercise equipment I am starting off VERY SLOW, just sitting on it for one to two minutes a day. The first time I used it the muscles around my waist felt it, some in the small of my back, some to the sides above my hip bones, and some in my gut muscles. Even though I was only on it for a minute I got tired, and these muscles still felt the effects of this exercise hours later. After just 3-4 minutes on the saddle chair over three days I can feel that my muscles around my waist are tightening up. To get the same feeling from the Home Horse I had to do circles with my pelvis in each direction, on the Anywhere Saddle Chair I just had to sit “still” for a minute.

Right now my plans are to use the Anywhere Saddle Chair, cautiously increasing my sitting time a minute or two a day. I should be able to get my riding lesson on Wednesday, and if I have more energy on horseback than I did on Monday I will cautiously get back up on my Home Horse, using it as a balancing platform rather than a piece of equipment for moderately vigorous exercise.

I hope I have a better ride on Wednesday. There is no point of me exercising at home if it robs me of my ability to ride a real, live horse effectively.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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