Cold rain. Cold wind.
Last Sunday it was a cold rain, so I missed out on riding Cider.
Luckily I got my lesson on Wednesday. The low that night had been 21° F but when I got up the TV said 25° F so I went out to ride. I had gotten Mick an extra exercise sheet, this time a Centaur Climate Control Thermo Knit Cut-back Exercise sheet. Mick takes a 72” blanket so I had to get the horse sized one which is for a horse that uses a blanket from 72” to 76” so at least I have something to use on a slightly bigger horse now. I figured that with both the Back On Track exercise sheet and the Centaur exercise sheet Mick’s butt should be nice and warm even if it was a bit too cold to ride! Of course his Centaur exercise sheet hangs off the back of his croup several inches, but that did not seem to bother Mick at all.
After much thought about my ride on Mick last week I finally decided to put my Corrector on top of the Back On Track Contender II saddle pad, with me hoping that the Thin Line material on the top of the pad would keep my Corrector from slipping around. I should have brought out my next longest girth! Debbie got Mick’s back groomed, I put the BOT saddle pad on his back to start the warming, we tacked up, put on both exercise sheets (with the front part of the BOT under the saddle flaps and the front part of the Centaur sheet over my thighs) and got out to the ring. The ground was not all frozen, but each hoof-print puddle had some ice on it. Since we had gotten over an inch of rain since Sunday the ring was saturated, so Mick and I just got to walk around. I was really glad to have the front of the exercise sheet over my thighs, I felt much warmer.
At least, with the Corrector on, Mick strode forth freely at the walk in spite of the cold, sloppy, and slightly frozen footing. Last week when I used the BOT saddle pad by itself Mick felt “stuck” at the walked and simply refused to extend his stride. This week I did not have that problem! The Corrector is simply marvelous in that I can use saddles that do not fit quite right on a horse without hurting or irritating the horse’s back, Last week Mick without the Corrector seemed worried about the top of his shoulders, this week with the Corrector Mick did not seem to think that he had any problems with the way my saddle fit. I was able to get Mick to lengthen his stride in the best parts of the ring, where the footing got a little dicey Mick slowed to his regular walk, and cheerfully lengthened again when he thought the footing was suitable. All this time I was having to use my legs a lot less, and when I used them he responded to maybe a third of the strength that I normally have to use with Mick. Then, since the ring’s footing was too miserable to trot on, I started testing out the things that usually cause a spasm in Mick’s loin muscles, standing for a minute, turns on the forehand, turns on the hindquarter, and backing up. Usually I only dare to do one or two of these a ride, always toward the end of the lesson. This time I did all of them maybe halfway through my lesson. Mick’s back stiffened up each time but it loosened up again after just 3 to 6 strides instead of half-way around the ring. This is MAJOR progress, especially since it was so cold. Debbie was really happy with the way Mick was walking, and she was especially pleased that he is starting to halt square. Maybe next week I’ll get to trot him again and see if he will still do that wonderful impulsive trot. I really hope that with the combination of the BOT saddle pad, the exercise sheets and the Corrector I will be able to finally make some progress with making Mick’s back work better.
My son and I went out to the stable on Friday, and I was again the victim of an inaccurate weather report, the 21° F low turned out to be an 18° F low, and believe me those extra 3 degrees colder made a difference. I had bought all my tack for riding, but when I got out of the car the wind picked up some and the ground was still frozen. We left the saddle, pads and bridle in the car and after my son groomed Mia’s back I rapidly put both exercise sheets on her back, the BOT one in front and the Centaur one further back. Mia seemed to appreciate the extra warmth and I was glad that I could cover her entire back and some of her shoulders. When I finished trimming her hooves I stepped back out in the cold breeze and decided it was just too cold to ride, partly because I was afraid Mia would strain a joint on the frozen hoof-prints, partly because my son was just not feeling well, and partly because, in the cold wind, all my energy just disappeared. I got back home planning to write this blog but Barnmice was DOWN. By the time Barnmice came up again I was just too exhausted to write.
I was so impressed with how Mick reacted the first time I used the BOT saddle pad on him I decided to get the BOT neck dickey since my neck has been giving me trouble since I had been in a car wreck almost 30 years ago. This time I ordered directly from Back On Track and I finally got their directions for use (I ordered the saddle pad from a tack store and I did not get the instructions with it.) The BOT people recommend using their products only for 4 hours the first 2-3 days, then you can use them longer if there is no additional pain from the increased blood flow. This morning, my third day of use, the BOT neck dickey worked better than what I usually do--a hot compress on my neck for several minutes, putting on my neck brace and drinking lots of coffee. It will be interesting to see if my neck starts getting better after three weeks to a month of wearing it over 8 hours a day, the time that the BOT people say is needed to see if their stuff works on healing a long term injury. I think that 30 years of waking up with a stiff neck qualifies as a long term whip-lash injury! I also got my son a BOT ankle brace for a several year old bad ankle sprain that still bothers him as an early Christmas present. I almost wish I owned Mick, then I would save up and get him the BOT blanket too, but it is too expensive for me to get for a horse I don’t own. Maybe Debbie can convince his owner’s mother that one would do Mick a lot of good for his bad back, Debbie and I are both impressed with how his BOT saddle pad has improved his movement and impulse after just two 30 minute sessions of riding. There are several things I want to get from BOT for the horses (poll cover, neck cover, hock boots, exercise boots) and for myself (back brace, briefs, long underwear, long-sleeved shirt, socks and riding gloves), plus I really need to get 2 more saddles. I’ll be saving my spending money for years.
WARNING--riding horses is not cheap even if you don‘t own one!
Have a great ride!