A Hope Now for Weekly Lessons

The good, great and wonderful news is that I got another lesson this week!

But, on the other hand I really need to ride more.

When I was young I would have been THRILLED to get a riding lesson a week. I think I had a grand total of 5 riding lessons during my elementary school years plus a few years of mostly weekly trail rides. You see my parents did not think riding lessons were necessary, especially for a young one as athletically untalented as I was. I dreamed for years of getting weekly lessons.

But now, after riding for 50+ years weekly lessons seem so inadequate! Beyond the fact that riding horses is the best physical therapy I've found for my Multiple sclerosis I NEED to practice riding to keep track of my body. Riding a horse fine tunes my poor proprioceptive sense and strengthens the muscles I need to walk on my own. Besides riding horses is FUN!!!!

Weekly riding lessons are better than nothing now. Maybe after several more months as winter winds down and the Covid-19 pandemic gets under control I will be able to ride more frequently.

I did a bit more grooming this week on MJ, during which he “told” me that he does not appreciate it when I lean on the curry or brush. He only lets me us the HandsOn grooming gloves very lightly and he is always suspicious that I will bear down on a patch of dried mud, though he does appreciate when I get the dried mud out of his coat. This has now spread to the other grooming tools, if I use my Tiger's Tongue lightly it is OK, the Epona wooden curry is fine also until I have to scrub on a patch of dried mud, luckily he does not seem to mind the brushes being used a little harder.

I have to groom MJ's body almost as lightly as I groom his head to keep him enjoying his grooming.

Our ride was more of the same, he wanted lighter leg aids which he took as a signal that I did not want him to move out at the walk. Sorry MJ, moving out at the walk is sort of a minimum requirement for me. So I concentrated on making good and sure that I IMMEDIATELY released my leg aid, no keeping my leg on for confirmation of my leg aids, just touch his side and move my leg back out. I did not try doing the lower down medial soleus muscle because my ankle ligaments had put up a mild protest from my last ride. MJ also took my lighter leg aids as an excuse to go even more on his forehand according to Debbie. Finally I had to go to tapping his croup when it was the highest on the side I carried my crop, I guess that the two butt blankets on his croup helped cushion this enough so MJ did not feel misused. Then he finally started pushing with his hind legs and we could move on out a little bit, but he did not get off his forehand very much at all.

We did do better at the trot this week. As before I prepared my position and my rein length for the trot and he promptly complied with my request. This time I made good and sure to be ready with my leg aids before I asked him to change his direction, and with repeating legs aids I was able to keep him at the trot through a few curves. Since I quickly get tired at the trot I try to pack in as much gymnastic benefit as I can, and the easiest way to do this is to change directions and his whole body flexion. When I can keep him reliably at the trot while changing directions then I can start working on the three speeds of the trot, I have the feeling that at first MJ will take my aids for a slower trot as a signal to go into a walk. Yes, right now I am having to train MJ to the idea that every change in tension of the reins does NOT mean slow down, it can also mean turn now or even serve as a signal to speed up (with my lower legs urging him on, of course.)

Toward the end of the lesson I asked Debbie if I had recovered my position enough to use the double bridle next week instead of just the snaffle. Debbie said YES! This makes me happy, I am becoming to prefer the way the horse carries itself with the two bits in its mouth. I think Debbie wants to see if MJ will carry himself better too, at lest when I used the double bridle before Debbie was not getting after me for MJ going on his forehand.

Someday winter will be over. Someday the pandemic will abate. Until then I just have to be patient and somewhat willing to wait until all these complications change to a more favorable condition for my riding.

Someday in the future I will get to ride three times in one week.


Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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