My Prescription—Ride Horses More!

Over a week ago I got to see my neurologist for our regular appointment. He gave me the usual soundness exam, and when I explained the term he agreed that I was “serviceably sound” for what I do in my life. He agreed that I am serviceably sound, and he actually prescribed more riding!!!! He understands my problems with keeping safe from Covid-19 at my lesson stable for right now, but he wants me to work toward more frequent riding. I hope the Universe cooperates with me about this.

I guess my neurological soundness exams were better when I rode three times a week regularly instead of sporadically twice a week. It was so sweet to hear a doctor prescribe more riding!

I will have to do this gradually. First I have to negotiate with Debbie about if she wants me to pay more to “borrow” one of the stall cleaning people to help me groom, tack up, and get me up into the saddle safely. The darn Covid-19 case I had increased my normal level of exhaustion and I just cannot do as much as two years ago. If I can arrange this maybe I could ride two days in a row the weeks that my husband won't be around on Fridays without too much harm to me or the horse.

Last Sunday I rode Cider. It was the first really nippy morning this fall, and I was so glad that I went ahead and got Cider the BOT neck sheet. This neck piece is made to be used with only one of the BOT sheets or blankets, it is not made to be used riding, all the hook-up doodads are in the wrong place to attach to the Ds on the saddle. Shannon did her usual figuring things out, attaching the top to the crown piece was pretty easy (the one problem was getting a small buckle under the crown piece) and Shannon attached the wither part to the center ring of my RS-tor riding aid. Not perfect but it worked, and for once I did not feel guilty for making Cider stand in the cold breeze in the shaded riding ring!

Of course she had all her other BOT and Fenwick gear on (hats, saddle pad, butt blankets and boots). Cider did not seem to feel like she was freezing to death.

Cider was fretting some while she was groomed, she was not bad but she was not peaceful either. The neck sheet did not cause much comment from her at least, probably since Nancy had been draping the Fenwick ¼ sheet over her neck while her body was groomed. She was still sort of feisty when led into the ring and up to the mounting block but stood still for mounting. During our ride she showed her feistiness by being obedient to my first leg aids, no repetition required!

Finally, on Sunday I got Cider to willingly extend her walk, something I've worked on for months, and I did not have to use a lot of leg to get there. Not only that, she willingly went on with her more extended walk stride even when I did not use my legs except for an occasional nudge with my calf. I do not know if her additional oomph was because of it being cooler or because her neck felt warm and relaxed, but I was very happy with my ride.

When MJ was brought in and his blanket removed I really looked at his coat, something I did with all my horses around November first every year. MJ's coat looked REALLY SKIMPY, more like a summer coat than a good yak-like winter coat. Luckily Debbie blankets all of her horses when it gets colder but I prefer to see a thicker winter coat on a horse, especially with our periodic Polar Vortexes than plunge even southern NC into the low 20s F rapidly.

MJ got introduced to two new things I got for him. Since all my BOT exercise sheets are too small for his comfort and since I just cannot find a BOT exercise sheet to fit him I went looking to see if there was anything else available. I lucked out! I got a SmartTherapy ThermoBalance ceramic fleece quarter sheet from SmartPak that is big enough for him (and it is cheaper than the BOT one), as well as a BOT neck sheet that is big enough for him, so he was well protected from the cold wind in the riding ring with all of this plus the normal BOT Fenwick stuff I use on him every ride.

Unlike Cider MJ did not want to stride out. I did not let him stay in a QH shuffle at the walk, but contented myself with a normal hunt seat type of walk instead of demanding that he extend his stride. During our first trot MJ gave me his usual QH “I see no reason why I should waste my energy picking my feet up in the ring” shuffle. The next trot I tweaked my sagging curb rein at the top of my post and MJ gave me a GOOD hunt seat trot, one that got plenty of praise from Debbie!

His turn on the hind quarters improved some, he “planted” his hindquarters after only two steps instead of the usual four steps. I told him to go to Debbie for some well deserved praise.

His mouth was less resistant, not that he is very resistant to my hand aids normally but there was a distinct lack of jaw hardening on Wednesday. Maybe the new neck sheet is helping him relax his neck.

As the cold north wind blew on us I could stop and rest without feeling horribly guilty of forcing the poor horse to stand in the cold wind. MJ happily huddled under his butt blanket and neck sheet and was all ready to take a nice nap.

I hope all this stuff I have spent my money on to make MJ more comfortable will eventually pay off in the wash stall. Right now I get the “Oh, its you” look from him when he stands to be groomed, maybe after a few more weeks he will realize that it really isn't that bad to have me riding him early in the morning when every other horse gets to eat hay and play. At least he will feel warm, and since his turnout blanker does not have a neck piece he will have the added pleasure of a warm neck.

This past week I spent all my spending money I had been saving for more expensive bits (Fager, of course) on Haas brushes. I finally realized that I probably already own the Fager bits that work well with MY hands in various sizes, I am prepared for whichever horse I get assigned to ride! I had been reading about the Haas brushes on the COTH Forum and I decided that these brushes are made so that I will not HAVE TO lean down hard on the horse to get all the dirt out of their coats. Yes, these brushes are more expensive, but if I can get MJ cleaner without irritating his sensitive skin AND get more dirt and dust out of his coat every stroke of the brush, well that just means that I will be able to use a lot less energy getting the horse clean. Of course I should have ordered earlier, I have gotten e-mails that while my order is being processed that I should be patient about delivery, even now the USPS is overwhelmed and it is going to get worse as more people order Christmas presents. People, if you are planning on ordering Christmas presents on-line do it NOW, otherwise you might not get the item until much later when the delivery snags finally let your package through to your house.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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