It's been a rather strenuous month, for me. Oakley has had it easy. The weather has been giving 30 degree swings, from 10C to -20C and back, which, of course, leads to melting and flash freezing into ice that is treacherous to move over (I don't ride over to the arena, we walk). I did manage to cover the path with freshly-used bedding from the compost pile during one of the brief warmish spells, so the footing, while frozen, is not ice.

   You see, I learned to work the tractor, and then spent two days moving the pile away from the door. The ones who clean out the stalls tend to drop the wheelbarrow in front of the pile and over time have been dropping it closer and closer to the door until we had to step right into the pile to get out of that exit. That's fixed, now. The yard is clear. The laneway across the yard has safe footing. And I took the scraper into the arena and flattened out there to my satisfaction, which gives us all a good, smooth surface to work on. The jump stands don't lean at angles that look like the background to a Chuck Jones cartoon.

   Oakley carefully examined all the strange scrapings in the dirt as we went over them, but the significant factor is he looked, but did not stop. That because I went back to the very basics at the end of December, and decided to do at least one day a week on just groundwork, with an emphasis on de-spooking.

   And I am without stirrups (again), but with some apparently minor adjustments to my position that leaves every muscle in my pelvic girdle feeling strained, because I'm using them in a way I haven't before. One of my instructors explained the original description of what has come to be bowdlerized as a "deep seat" in a way that sounds almost lewd (even in the original German), but which makes it far easier to grasp how I'm supposed to be using the saddle. But, because many of my muscles have never been used that way (or possible ever) my pelvic girdle aches.

   We are doing some very small jumps (sans stirrups), and I can't really post for more than 15 minutes, and at the end of a half hour, I'm spent. Which is good, because this is not a time for him to get all sweaty. What we need to concentrate on is more promptness to a signal, more precision in my signals, and even less force on the bit. As it is, I have just enough tension to keep the rein from drooping. As my favorite horse trainers put it, "if you cannot walk, trot, and canter on a loose rein, then you're not using them for communication, you're using them for control, and you cannot control a horse with the reins." Ergo, I am being especially careful to make sure that all he is getting from my hands are signals.

   He's improving.

   We're improving.

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on February 10, 2018 at 8:56am

Hi B.G.,

I am so glad you and Oakley are still able to make progress in spite of this hard winter.  Good work!  AND you managed to clear up the muck, that is marvelous.

As far as muscle aches from using new muscles riding, I live in my Back on Track clothes, I sleep on my BOT mattress pad, and I use my BOT shawl as a liner to my other blankets and sheet.  BOT saves me from having to take a lot of pain medication.  For me wearing the BOT stuff feels equivalent to soaking in a hot bath, and I often need one less layer in the cold to stay warm.

For muscle/tendon strains I find that the Traumeel pills help a good bit, and the Traumeel ointment seems to work better than any other salve/ointment/rub that I have used.

Riding horses is a wonderful complex and utterly interesting puzzle.  Congratulations for keeping up with your lessons.  Someday it will all become clear as your horse dances under you.

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