My Homework Paid Off

Wednesday morning did not start off that well. My hands were klutzy when I dressed for riding, all of a sudden starting zippers and getting straps through buckles became a major challenge. When I got to the barn and Debbie brought MJ in he decided that he did NOT like the sound of the clippers as another horse got his head trimmed in the next wash stall. MJ was moving from side to side, from front to back, he looked anxious, and I got out the Halter Buddy and put it on him. MJ quieted down just a little bit at first, then he gradually got safer for me to be around.

I had bought MJ some new far-infrared radiation gear, a pair of Incrediwear Hoof Socks and an Incrediwear Neck sleeve. When Debbie cleaned out his hooves and brushed off his lower front legs she tried to put one on. MJ would not cooperate, he saw no reason to hold his leg up, besides where were his regular exercise boots, leg wraps and pastern wraps? Debbie's wrists were hurting so Sam, her daughter, stepped in and got the Hoof Socks on. I had also bought the Incrediwear bandages but when I saw the hoof socks reaching his knees and staying up pretty well I decided to not mess with wrapping his legs too. Debbie agreed. After she worked the Neck Sleeve over his head and got it situated on his neck near to his head MJ started looking more cheerful and relaxed a little bit. I did not put on the BOT Poll Cap, but I did use the Fenwick Face Mask with Ears. I think MJ missed having his poll cap on, next week I'll do better.

When I started riding at the walk it was obvious to me that MJ had to adjust to his new lower leg gear. It felt DIFFERENT and it was quickly obvious that MJ was not going to extend his walking stride until he had his lower legs all figured out. The positives of the Hoof Socks is that MJ did not flinch at all except for at the ends of the turns in place, otherwise everything felt like his legs were comfortable. The Hoof Socks do not give the lower leg any support like the exercise boots do, and MJ has to get used to the new feel. If he ends up needing the extra support I will have to find exercise boots without neoprene to put over his Hoof Socks.

I was riding much better on Wednesday. I had more endurance and my balance was better—I did not have to shift the saddle back to center at all during my ride. I did several posting trots, six of them instead of my normal two trots, and my trots were much longer than usual. There are two reasons for this, first MJ was not wearing any neoprene and I have been getting more allergic to neoprene over the years. Maybe the particles of neoprene out-gassing from the exercise boots were affecting my nervous system. Since the neoprene was not messing up my nervous system, my improved balance and endurance due to my homework on the Home Horse and the Anywhere Saddle Chair showed up. I was riding better due to my homework, finally!

I am hoping that MJ will decide his Hoof Socks are as good as the three pieces of gear they replace. MJ will tell me, if after several more rides his still refuses to extend his stride at the walk he will be telling me that he needs extra support for extending his stride. I should be able to find some boots without neoprene for his cannon bones/fetlock joints, but it might be much harder to find fetlock wraps without neoprene. At least the hoof socks are long enough so they can cover his fetlock joint and a lot of his pastern, they just do not give any support.

MJ accepted contact just fine during the lesson, whether I used the snaffle alternating with the curb bit or if I kept contact with just the curb bit. MJ's downward transitions from the trot to the walk were much smoother with his back swinging delightfully, so much so I dared to try a short sitting trot. That could have been better but it was a great improvement over his normal stiff backed slow trot.

When we got back to the barn and Debbie asked MJ to pick up his leg so she could get the Hoof Socks off MJ refused, over and over again. Sam had to come over again and she convinced MJ that he had to hold up his leg long enough to let her take his Hoof Socks off. MJ's old set up was easy to get off, open the Velcro straps and take them off while the horse keeps his foot on the ground. Why should he hold up his foot? Besides I got a feeling from him that he did not want his Hoof Socks removed, that they felt good, and he saw no reason why he could not go on wearing them.

Debbie liked MJ's reactions to his Incrediwear gear and we will go on using it with MJ even though they are a bit more challenging to get on and off. This is a big relief to me since it keeps me away from Neoprene. My allergic reactions to it, the physical itching and the greater tendency to feeling depressed and exhausted, obviously had affected my riding badly. Debbie said I was smiling a lot more during my lesson so obviously my mind was feeling much better too!

As far as my homework “rides” go nowadays I am getting two sessions in on the Home Horse when Shannon comes by on Sunday with 20 to 30 minutes to rest before I have enough energy to mount again. The first session is around 5 minutes, the second session up to 7 minutes. Some weeks I get a second 5 minute session on the Home Horse if my husband is home to help me getting on and off and keeping an eye on the bubble balance so I can learn where center is. One other day I spend 3 to 5 minutes on the Anywhere Saddle Chair, usually split up between several 1 to 2 minute sessions. The Home Horse work is mainly for my balance and somewhat for my endurance, the work on the Anywhere Saddle Chair is to get my core muscles stronger.

So long as I avoid Neoprene my homework rides are helping me ride MJ better, finally!

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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