A Warm Croup

Last Sunday I had a pretty good ride on Cider. Even though it was cooler Cider was not flinching as much.

When we drove up to Shannon's place her mom, Nancy, was getting Cider ready. I noticed that Nancy had put the Fenwick quarter sheet over Cider's croup, she said that she thought Cider might appreciate it since it was a lot cooler than it had been in weeks. Cider looked sort of content, but that changed a little when she got saddled and the Fenwick sheet was removed but I thought that was her usual “you mean I have to work AGAIN????”

I mounted Cider in the ring and we started walking around. I was not terribly successful at keeping my butt out of the saddle though I did try. It did not seem to matter as much though, for the first time in years I did not feel Cider flinch each and every step of our ride. So long as I kept of the relatively level paths Cider was fine, she started flinching a little bit going down-slope but she was not flinching as much as usual, and it was the same with the curves and turns.

I was delightfully surprised! Personally I had woken up and each and every joint hurt and several of my joints went on hurting all morning. I was expecting Cider to be even more sensitive than usual to each landfall of a front hoof. Yet nothing happened on a level straight path, I was even toying with the idea that we might be able to trot again for the first time in years if this improvement continues.

What happened? I really do not know, but my conjecture is that since Cider's croup muscles were warmed up by the Fenwick sheet with the long-wave infra-red radiation penetrating deep into her croup muscles, making those muscles more comfortable. Since her croup was feeling better could she have been using her croup muscles to keep herself more off her forehand? All I know is that something happened, something that had not happened for years, and Nancy putting the Fenwick sheet on Cider's croup was the only difference from the usual routine.

Over the years that I have used both the Back on Track (BOT) and Fenwick far-infra-red radiating fabrics I have noticed that they have different effects on my body and on the horses' bodies. For instance, their hats. The horses LIKE the BOT poll cap, they relax, their eyes get softer, and they give off a feeling of contentment when it is put on. The horses also like the Fenwick Face Mask with Ears that I also use, so much that I have been able to persuade ear-shy horses that it can be a GOOD thing to put it over their ears. When it gets warm I tend to not put the BOT poll cap on because I do not want to overheat the horse, but I put the Fenwick Face Mask on because of the ears, as fly and gnat control. I suggested doing this to Shannon, but apparently Cider convinced Shannon that Cider wanted both of them on even if it was hot out in the ring, and Cider “won” the argument.

We have been using the BOT exercise sheet that covers the croup during the colder weather, but Cider still flinched, and I did not notice a tremendous difference in the flinching when Shannon stopped using it because of the summer heat. Could it be that the BOT and Fenwick stuff give off DIFFERENT wavelengths of the infra-red radiation, with the BOT radiation mostly affecting the upper layer of muscles and the Fenwick radiation affecting muscles and joints deeper within the horses' bodies? Could it be that the Fenwick radiation reached inside the horse far enough to affect the croup muscles that help take weight off the forehand?

If so maybe dressage riders would find it helpful for their horses' performances if they put a Fenwick sheet on the horse's croup before riding.

When I first got the Fenwick quarter sheet I did try it out on the horses under the saddle. The problems were that it was not as well shaped as a good saddle pad and it was hard to keep wrinkles out under the saddle, PLUS it did not extend far enough to get to the end of the croup. I tried moving the Fenwick sheet back somewhat, but then the little shape the Fenwick sheet has to accommodate the withers caused some wrinkles when it ended up under the saddle instead of over the withers, so we stopped using this sheet while riding. Debbie does not mind if I put the BOT exercise sheet over MJ's croup while we walk to the ring since it really helps get MJ warmed up enough to perform to my standards, but right now I wish we could use both of them at once! Fortunately, since MJ does not require shims in a saddle pad to get the saddle to fit, I am able to use a Fenwick Western saddle pad that extends over his loin muscles and he seems to like it.

I am also thinking about getting some of the Fenwick leg wraps. These do not stay up by themselves needing a leg bandage or boot to keep from slipping down the horse's legs. I am thinking about trying them with the BOT exercise boots to see if this combination would make Cider more comfortable with her front legs. Fortunately they are a great deal cheaper than the BOT exercise boots so it won't cost me that much to try them.

Well that was all my equestrian experience last week. I was supposed to get a lesson with Debbie on Wednesday, but just as I was gathering all my stuff up to take to the stable Debbie called to cancel my lesson. One of her lesson horse mares had gotten kicked severely by her paddock mate and her hind leg was dangling, and everything and everyone had to deal with the poor injured mare.

Maybe I'll get a lesson next week.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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