Full Summer Arrives

Afternoon temperatures in the upper 90s F. High humidity. Merciless sunshine.

Crippling weather for us with MS.

Fortunately I ride as early in the morning as I can arrange with the stables, 8:00 AM or 8:30 AM. I wish I could ride earlier but the horses expect to eat their breakfasts before work, and if that does not happen the horses do not want to listen to me at all.

To add to my misery I am being even more persistent in wearing my face mask inside the barn, and that makes me even hotter. But it is better than getting the new variety of Covid-19 which is 1000% more infectious and there are neurological effects too, thus I still have to wear my mask. Of course me and my husband are the only ones wearing masks at the barn, sometimes older people are wiser.

MJ finally looked at me somewhat fondly when he was led up. At least he knows that I am not going to ride him into a dripping sweat when it is this hot. All I can handle is the walk and a little sitting trot, and MJ is just fine with that.

In spite of wearing and using every bit of hot weather gear I have and moving my face mask down in the ring, I just could not get up into a full 2-point position. MJ appreciates me using the half-seat to relieve his back, but I do get better results with his back when I do a full five minutes with my seat completely out of the saddle. He will accept me sitting down in the saddle to rest at a full halt, but I have to get my seat-bones out of the saddle as he prepares to move, and all the time he is moving. At least I try.

Two-point will have to wait until it finally cools down some.

Debbie did tell me that my lower legs have improved both in steadiness and position from all the two-point I have been doing, so even though it is getting me even more tired than usual at least it is improving both my position and MJ's back tension.

After walking a short while I started the sitting trot heading to the left. It was amazing, most of that trot MJ's back was relaxed and he was comfortable to ride. I felt so comfortable that I let him do several more strides before I told him to walk. MJ has a pretty smooth slow trot when he finally relaxes his back muscles. A horse with stiff, jarring back muscles cannot learn to enjoy the slow trot at all (bang, bang, bang) so this smoother trot was very encouraging, it felt like something I could work with and develop. I never got that feeling from MJ before when sitting the trot. Progress!!!!

Going to the right at the sitting trot was a completely different story, his spinal muscles were tense and jarred me even though his back was “swinging.” I'd never guess that his sitting trot was so smooth in the other direction. Debbie told me they were having some difficulties with getting MJ to take his right lead at the canter in his other lessons, so it isn't just me causing him difficulties going to the right. She then told me that MJ has taught several of her beginning students how to canter, that his canter is so smooth that her students can just relax and enjoy it. Maybe I'll get to canter him in the fall, when it gets cooler. Then I can work on improving his canter too.

After that it was back to just walking around, asking for a tiny bit of extension, then asking him to do a SLOW walk. MJ's QH brain and body do not mind the SLOW walk at all. His attitude is that we are going nowhere anyway so why in the world do I want him to go faster in the heat? After all he does not get as sweaty at a slow QH shuffle, to him summertime is the proper time to SLOW DOWN!

As we walked around I just got hotter and hotter and I could do less and less. It was not all bad for me, I did not drop a rein of the double bridle the whole ride and MJ consented to keeping contact with my hands. His responses were not quite as sharp but that is probably my fault, I just cannot ride as well when I melt down into a puddle of protoplasm in the saddle.

I was relieved when my 30 minutes were up. I had to ask Debbie to push my left knee into the saddle so I could get my seat out of it enough to swing my right leg over his back. As Debbie walked MJ back to the barn I had to hold onto the saddle, partly because I was so unsteady on my feet and partly because I needed MJ to tow me to the stable. It felt so good to get into the shade when we finally got into the barn.

Where I had to put my face mask up over my nose again because a whole slew of people showed up during my ride, all unmasked of course. I collapsed in a chair while Debbie untacked MJ. At least I got all my stuff together and for once this summer I did not forget anything at the stable.

I really hope that the heat starts abating somewhat in August, but that is usually our hottest month down here. Maybe in September it will cool down some. It would be nice because from what I am reading I am going to have to continue wearing my face mask at the barn for a long time. Wearing my face mask and moving around in the heat and humidity gets pretty miserable, but not as miserable as I would be if I got Covid-19 again.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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