MJ “Forgives” My Mistake

As in he mostly ignored it. Good Boy!

I hadn't ridden a real live horse for three weeks so I was excited when I got ready to go to the stable for my riding lesson. Since lots of my joints ached when I woke up I had put on various pieces of my BOT/Fenwick/Incrediwear far infra-red radiation therapy gear, my neck, wrist, ankle, shoulder and back. I was definitely creaking Wednesday morning.

I got most of this gear off when I changed into my riding clothes but for some reason I did not notice that I still had my BOT Neck Collar on when I put on my lightest summer weight technical fabric riding shirt, my Q-30 Collar or my neck brace. I don't know how I missed it, but I did.

In the past the horses have all been DEFINITE, when I wear anything like this when I ride the horses they are nice to me, they obey my aids if somewhat slowly, but they do not want to take good contact with my hands. Even when I wear a BOT Ankle Brace the horses do not want to give me really good contact, and you can't get farther from my hands than my foot. So normally I shed my therapy stuff and get up on the horse stiff and hurting until the horse's walking motion loosens me up.

Still unaware of my mistake I wore it during my lesson. I did notice that I did not dive in as deeply grooming him as I usually do, but by the time I brushed off his lower legs Debbie had started with the curry comb with gobs of hair coming off of him. It was warmer than usual that morning (it got up to 84F later in the day) so I put fly spray on his head, legs and belly, brushed his mane and head, put on his BOT Poll Cap and Fenwick Face Mask, and MJ cooperated with me. Then I went and sat down to rest while Debbie finished grooming him and got his tack on. Since it was warm and muggy we went ahead and put his riding fly sheet on. The gnats have already made an appearance.

When we started the lesson MJ did not really want to move out. I figured that if I had stiff and hurting joints that morning that MJ's elderly joints probably also ached. I got up into 2-point for a while, worked with my leg aids to get him to stride out some, and finally he agreed he felt decent enough for me to sit on his back.

But MJ would only go so far during my lesson. He took a while before he consented to give me decent contact with the bridoon at the walk, but once I got contact it was all fine. He just did not want to stretch his walking stride that much so I trotted him more than usual lately, 3 or 4 times, for longer distances, posting all the way with MJ keeping decent contact. That helped his impulse some but he just would not “commit” to lengthening his walking stride. When it got nearer to the end of my lesson I tied up the ends of my bridoon reins and kept contact with just the curb. Again it took three strides before he decided my hand were OK enough for contact and I had no problems.

Then, back with bridoon contact, we got back to the basic curves, with me mainly using my lower legs and upper thighs as turning aids. As with everything during my lesson it took a few strides more until he gave me what I wanted but after that he cooperated with me. The “worst” part of the ride was when I did my “rider's push-ups”. We were a quarter of the ring away from the gate but we were facing the gate and MJ decided he wanted to go to the gate, politely. I figured that one of my lower legs had not stayed quiet and had moved enough so he could decide I was telling him to move forward, where he wanted to go anyway. We had a minor discussion about standing still off contact while I was doing exercises in the saddle even though he was facing the gate.

Unlike the last few lessons I had to recenter the saddle, just once, but it had been staying centered all ride before. It was not bad enough for me to ask Debbie to tighten the girth a hole.

When I got home and changed out of my riding clothes I finally realized why my ride had not been that good during my lesson, I had left my BOT neck collar on. OF COURSE MJ was reluctant to take contact immediately, he wanted to check my hands out first. Of course my saddle got off center, my sense of balance was worse. MJ reacted to this like the experienced lesson horse he is, he figured out my limitations that day and adapted to them. He did not get upset, he did no cuss me out, he was just a little bit slower with obeying my aids and his obedience would only go so far, and not a step further.

All the work I did at home on my riding simulators is paying off and is the reason why my lesson was not much worse. Even with my central nervous system further compromised by keeping the BOT neck collar on my balance did not deteriorate too badly, and this comes from my “rides” on my Home Horse. Since I have the bubble balance on the base of the Home Horse I believe my spotter when they tell me that I am, finally, in balance even though my body is saying I am way off balance. Keeping the Home Horse in balance works my upper thighs and teaches me how my stirrups feel on my feet when I achieve balance. This is why I had to re-center my saddle only once instead of the three or four times I had to do it in the past before I started working on my Home Horse.

The work I do on my Home Horse trying to do 2-point and trying to post also paid off, even though I had not ridden for weeks I was strong enough to stay up in 2-point and to post longer than usual when I did my lesson. My work sitting on the Anywhere Saddle Chair also paid off, my core riding muscles were there when I needed them holding me steady so I did not irritate MJ with my seat.

I am not doing that much work at home on the riding simulators, two six minute sessions on my Home Horse most Sundays, and 2-3 minutes just sitting on the Anywhere Saddle Chair once a week. I know this does not sound like a very vigorous exercise plan but it was enough so that my lesson this week was not totally horrible.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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