Time for a Change

Sorry I've been gone for a while. NOTHING much was happening, sometimes the weather did not cooperate with my riding, Shannon had health problems, and sometimes my gut was not happy with the world. MJ has decided that his old method of making his back as hard as concrete is the way to go in the riding ring.

I had been making a tiny bit of progress with relaxing his back. However Debbie's stable has been BUSY at my lesson times. The show kids need to get their lessons while it is still cool, other people come out to ride while it is still cool, and instead of peace and quiet at the barn and a delightfully deserted ring I and MJ are faced with the minor chaos of a lesson program in progress.

One effect is that MJ seems to be convinced that he is back in his bad old days as a lesson horse at the stable where he was used in 8 lessons a day teaching people how to ride. In response to the memories of an old “nightmare” he just stiffens his back to protect it from his riders. I don't blame him at all. IF I was his only rider I would have a much better chance in getting him to relax his back again, but MJ also is partially leased to one of Debbie's students. I am not his only rider.

THEN, since I was planning on getting new BOT/ThinLine Contender II saddle pads for the horses I went onto the BOT web site to find, to my great dismay, that my favorite saddle pad after 50+ years of riding, is DISCONTINUED! I desperately searched on the web, most places where it was listed said that it was discontinued, found one site that seemed to have them in stock, ordered two, and I got an e-mail informing me that they were out and the pad was discontinued. SNIFF!!!!!

Since I had been planning on buying new Contender II saddle pads (not cheap) I had some money saved up and I decided I better find another solution for my problems that the Contender II saddle pad help alleviate—the far-infra red radiation relaxing the back muscles, the ThinLine topping which alleviated the shocks from my seat, and the ability to shim to correct a not quite right saddle.

Ever since I started using the Fenwick Western saddle pad (also discontinued) I've regretted that these pads do not have the ThinLine shock absorption. MJ likes the longer pad which covers his stiff loin, his back is flat enough that we don't need to use shims, and he was slowly responding to my riding by relaxing until the crowded riding rings occurred. I went to the ThinLine site to see if I could use something on top of my Fenwick pads and spent my money on a Trifecta Pad, shims for the Trifecta pad, and a ThinLine Contour pad. I am planning on using the ThinLine+ Contour pad over the Fenwick pad on MJ since he does not need shims. I am hoping that the advertising on the ThinLine site is right and that I will feel less shock from MJ's jack-hammer slow trot and that MJ's back will feel protected from my seat. I hope this will end up making both of our backs feel better than what I've been using.

Thinking back my first ride of MJ I had used the Contender II saddle pad on him so he had the benefits of the BOT fabric and the ThinLine shock absorption. But MJ's back felt STIFF right behind the saddle so I went with the longer Fenwick Western pad that has the far-infra red radiation for my second lesson shock absorption but it has no shock absorption material on it. That is when I realized how harsh and pounding MJ's slow trot is. I am really hoping that MJ likes this change in his saddle pad department. This is the first time ever I've ridden regularly with two pads but both the Fenwick pad and the ThinLine Contour pad are non-slip so this set up should feel pretty stable for both of us.

I also bought Cider her own Fenwick Western pad and I plan on using the ThinLine Trifecta pad with the center shims on her. I've been using the Contender II pad on her for years so I hope that she likes how the Fenwick pad's radiation works on her muscles and joints, plus she is old and I think she may appreciate having her loin covered too.

The ThinLine shims now come in one piece for each side with guidelines for cutting out a shim for the front, middle and rear pockets on the Trifecta pad. I bought the more expensive 1/4” shim pad because it is supposed to have more shock absorption, on the ThinLine site they wrote that veterinarians like using the 1/4” shims/pad for horses with kissing spine or just a sore back. I usually manage to control my body on horseback, but every few months my balance gets wonkier than usual and I end up plopping back into the saddle hard. I NEED to protect the horses against this, and the ThinLine stuff gives me hope that I can keep the horses' backs more comfortable when I ride them.

Next week my lesson on MJ is Tuesday morning at 8:00 AM. I'll have to get up earlier than usual but Debbie has to transport some horses Wednesday morning during my usual lesson time. I am excited, will my new pad set up make MJ less defensive about his back? Will my spinal column stop screaming with pain after two strides of MJ's slow trot? Will my spinal cord stop feeling concussed?

The Q30 collar helped my brain stop freaking out big time about sitting MJ's jack-hammer trot but it did nothing for my spinal column. I really hope that the ThinLine 1/4” Contour pad will help my spinal column relax and stop hurting when I try to sit MJ's trot. The sitting trot is not a big part of the “classical” Forward Seat riding, those riders were having fun galloping cross-country, jumping, and doing challenging trails, not going slow in a riding ring. However, crippled as I am, I have to go slow in the riding ring and occasionally the sitting trot is extremely useful for teaching a horse something new and I would like to be able to sit MJ's trot when he needs a detailed and specific conversation about how he moves.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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