Then Life Interferes

I just got to ride twice since my last blog, my grandsons visited, I got a little sick, then Debbie went on a vacation, so I did not get to ride this week at all. Of course my balance is suffering, right now I have a tendency to want to face plant if I don't watch every step, hopefully I'll get to ride Cider tomorrow and start getting my body back. Right now my front-to-back balance is rather iffy.

Two weeks ago I got to ride Cider. I was so eager! Shannon had found her hind BOT exercise boots and put them on. Then a minor problem emerged, even though we had used these hind boots on Cider years ago she acted like this was the first time ever in her life she had worn them. She moved like she had string-halt, bringing her hind legs way up with a little shake every step of the walk.

Cider was wearing the BOT exercise boots, the Fenwick leg wraps on her front legs, the Fenwick Western saddle pad, the Fenwick exercise sheet over her croup, her BOT exercise sheet on top of that, I was pretty sure that Cider was not feeling cold.

Cider's odd hind leg movements continued through the first part of our ride. While we were walking around the ring a FIRE BREATHING DRAGON!!!! appeared in the distance, someone was working in a field on a tractor with a front loader, and there was a bush in between us so the dragon would disappear and then he came back! The horrors!!!!!

So there I was, Cider was walking like she had string-halt while emoting about that darn FIRE BREATHING DRAGON in the distance. Her hind leg action made her back move a lot more than usual so I was trying my best to sit down lightly. Cider's front legs did not flinch at all through this. Gradually she calmed down about the dragon, but her back still moved a lot. Half-way through the ride I asked Shannon to take off Cider's hind exercise boots. The motion of her back went from riding in a car over a badly maintained cobblestone street to a perfectly paved asphalt highway, totally smooth and very easy to ride. I asked Cider to extend her walk some, and she went “of course” and stretched her stride, minimal leg with no hesitation. It was so nice not to have to convince Cider that she can stretch just a little bit more, Cider responded to my light leg aids promptly and generously.

Shannon and I decided to give Cider three weeks to “think it over” about the hind exercise boots. By then she might actually remember that she used to be ridden in them pretty frequently with no problems. Besides the mornings should be cooler and those BOT hind exercise boots might feel good compared to a cold breeze playing over her hind cannon bones.

That Wednesday I had my lesson on MJ. I had ordered MJ the BOT exercise boots for his front legs. These are getting harder to find, even the US BOT site is out of them completely. We did not use the Fenwick leg wraps under them for that ride, Debbie and I wanted to see how MJ liked just the exercise boots. We did use the Fenwick pastern wraps on his front pasterns.

MJ did not worry about the exercise boots at all. This time we remembered to put the BOT exercise sheet on him and when we got to the ring MJ was warmed up enough to give me a good ride. As usual I held MJ while Debbie found her sunglasses, usually he is impatient wanting to move! But my last ride he cheerfully stood there, no problems, then he started nuzzling me for the first time ever. I guess that showed he like his exercise boots because that was the only new thing I had on him.

He did demand that I stay up in 2-point the first five minutes while he figured the front boots out, then it was smooth sailing. I had to use more leg aids to keep him moving, but that should improve as he gets used to the front exercise boots. Trotting was rather pleasant, for MJ that is, his back jarred me a little bit at the sitting trot and while he could be smoother he was much more smooth that the week before. While doing the posting trot I alternated both legs when I sat with tweaks on the curb rein when I rose, and MJ started moving out some more, something Debbie liked seeing!

I can tell what I feel with my seat, and it really helps also getting the input from my riding teacher if the horse is moving better or not. Debbie obviously liked seeing MJ move with his new BOT exercise boots and thought it was an improvement over how he usually moves. With MJ's navicular disease I am sure that the tendons and ligaments in his lower front leg got used in unusual ways and may have gotten mildly “frozen” in a format that let him move with the least pain. Now that he is properly shod for navicular it is part of my 'job' to give him an opportunity to feel better, which means that he can start to use his lower leg properly again. When I offered my usual long-term lending of the exercise boots so that they could use them on MJ during his other lessons Debbie rapidly agreed. I am not lending the Fenwick leg or pastern wraps, at Debbie's stable the students are expected to groom and tack up the horses on their own (with needed supervision.) The exercise boots by themselves are rather easy to put on properly, but with the Fenwick leg and pastern wraps I worry about the students not cleaning the pasterns well enough and/or allowing a wrinkle in the leg wraps that would irritate MJ's legs. He should do fine with just the exercise boots in his lessons.

Maybe I will get to ride Cider tomorrow, if the weather cooperates with us.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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