“Not Today”

MJ and I are old. Our joints ache at the best of times. Throw in ANYTHING, the weather, sleeping on the wrong side, MJ being bullied out in the paddock, a little bit of gas, and our whole system gets thrown out and we just can't do stuff that is easy when conditions are good.

Like my rides on MJ. In the past month I have had one ride that was GOOD, with MJ moving freely, striding forth fearlessly, with his head and neck relaxed and his back “swinging”. I really enjoyed that ride! The rest of them, well MJ IS 30 years old and has the aches and pains of any being that has had hard physical labor in their youth and middle age. He moves more at the lesson horse range of motion and when I ask him to move out some--“Not Today lady”.

Yes, I could get after him with my spurs and my crop, but I would not get what I want, free striding movement. I would get choppy steps, his head would come up a little and he would not reach confidently for contact with the bit, his back would get stiff, and both of us would be miserable.

“I am giving you the most I can today” is a valid objection from a horse. Here is MJ obeying all my aids, going around the ring satisfactorily for a lesson horse, not “cussing me out” at all, moderately cheerful, but after a certain speed is reached he just cannot physically swing, that is just too much for his body that day. Like me MJ is exquisitely sensitive to air pressure, and if a weather system bring rain is a few days off our joints start hurting even though the pre-storm weather is nice and sunny. When the clouds arrive full of rain our joints feel it even if the rain holds off until the end of our lesson.

I am not going to punish MJ for being an old man.

Last week I did too much physically. On Tuesday I spent around 5 hours riding in the car or sitting in a chair. I had an appointment with the eye doctor about my rapidly developing cataracts (they have been lurking for years) where I had to be alert and sitting up while my eyes were examined THOROUGHLY. Then I had my riding lesson on Wednesday, just walking, and I have been exhausted ever since.

Today Tropical Storm Ophelia made landfall over a hundred miles to the east throwing rain bands over my land. I still feel exhausted and various joints around my body are announcing that they ARE NOT HAPPY with the weather conditions, I'm just not good for anything today. Since I have to see the eye doctor again on Monday I will cancel my Home Horse session with Shannon tomorrow, then I can rest a day before my lesson on Wednesday and maybe I will have enough energy to trot a little bit, if MJ is up to it, that is.

I am scheduled for two cataract operations. My last one will be at the beginning of November, three weeks after the first operation. The eye doctor said not to ride a horse for two weeks after each operation, bummer! IF I end up with much better eyesight it will be worth missing my riding lessons, the idea of no longer needing eyeglasses outside at least is enticing. I might need reading glasses, I made sure to tell the eye doctor that I am studying horse anatomy and I need to be able to see the drawings and photographs clearly.

Maybe by December I will be recovered enough so I can RIDE again.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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