The Polar Vortex Interferes With My Riding

Last week I got to ride twice.  Riding is out for this week, it is just too cold in the mornings!

Sunday the 19th I got to ride Cider.  I just walked since I was too weak to do anything more.  I tried the same aids for the shoulder-in I used on Mia, but I just got one or two slight hints of Cider actually doing a shoulder-in.  Now Cider used to be used for eventing so she has had at least some dressage training, so it could be that she had no idea of what I was asking for since I was using different aids than the ones she was used to for a shoulder-in.  But even so I find it VERY interesting that Mia, who never had anything remotely resembling dressage training, is the horse that has readily interpreted my aids correctly and actually gave me strides of the shoulder-in.  Then I realized that since Mia had been so weak and unsteady when I started riding her years ago I essentially completely rebuilt her physique, and since I ride Forward Seat I gave her the proper physical foundation over the years that resulted with her being able to do a shoulder-in at a walk easily.  Mia has not developed resistances in her body to my aids so she is quite capable of doing anything I ask that is within her physical capabilities at 28 years of age. 

I got my lesson on Mick last Tuesday, the warmest morning of the week.  Luckily for me Debbie did not mind changing my lesson day, otherwise I would not have been able to ride at all during the week.  It was still cold and I used both of the exercise sheets on Mick to keep him warm.  This time I remembered to do the Ttouch circles on Mick before tacking up and I was rewarded, Mick’s back felt nice, loose, and relaxed at a walk until I did a slightly sharp turn, then his back stiffened up for the rest of the lesson.  Otherwise Mick did fine during the lesson, I even got him to elevate his forehand some at the trot even though I could not trot for very long as it was just too tiring for me.  He did not elevate as much as usual, I do not know if this was because my legs were too weak or if Mick was limiting his exuberance because I was just too unsteady and weak to stay on top of him at his normal elevated trot.  He even seemed to enjoy my new bit, the JP Full Cheek with a copper ball, and I felt his tongue rolling the copper ball a few times.

Debbie got after me for my hands, due to my exacerbation I could not tell if my hands were at the same level.  She also remarked that my lower legs looked spongier than usual, and my heels were creeping up so she told me to ride two-point for a while.  I do wish I could have gotten a lesson this week, Debbie is very good at telling me exactly where my body is not doing what I want it to do!  At the end of the lesson I was VERY tired from the trotting and the two-point and I walked very slowly back to the barn.

Then came the second installment of the Polar Vortex and my house suffered.  The electric circuit box in my bedroom started humming occasionally.  We unplugged the TV, limited ourselves to just one computer at a time, and finally we unplugged (and moved outside) our little freezer.  That stopped the humming in the circuit box.  Then our water froze in the pipes, and when it melted the faucets were down to a drip, I think that the mineral build-up from our extremely hard water got loose and mostly plugged up the line..  At least we have SOME water, and since I do not have any animals any more to water it has been enough, sort of like camping.  It has been too cold to replace the pipes since the pipe cement can‘t cure so I will have to wait for several days of warm weather before my husband and son can replace the pipe.  Then we will need the electrical work.  Right now it seems like all this work on our house will be going on for a long time.

So last weekend I went with my husband on his business trip up North.  I had been dreaming of trying to get a lesson up at North Fork so I took my riding clothes.  Well, it was much too cold for a lesson even in an indoor arena, and the secondary roads were in such horrible shape so I doubt we could have gotten to the stable anyway.  But it was very fortunate I took my riding clothes, it was so cold that I wore my FITS breeches under my pants, my technical fabric shirt and sleeves under my shirt, plus my Back on Track neck brace and back brace.  It was COLD in Virginia and Pennsylvania, down into the single digits with brisk North winds.  I did notice that even though I wore only one pair of socks my toes remained toasty warm, usually my toes remain cold even if I wear multiple pairs of socks.  I guess that by wearing my Back on Track back brace my core body temperature stayed up enough so there was enough extra warmth in my body to keep my feet and hands pretty warm in spite of the frigid temperatures.  The best thing about the trip was that I was able to walk well enough so I could safely creep through the snow and ice without falling.

Then, on the way home, our minivan broke down.  This is an old minivan, with over 433,000 miles on it so I guess it was due to break down sometime.  Luckily we got to a highway rest area so I had access to a heated bathroom while we waited for the tow truck.  We got to the motel near Richmond, Va. where my husband usually stops and got a room and waited for my youngest son to drive up from Raleigh, NC to get us.  We got the van towed to our repair shop down here but we do not know if it is fixable, so we went ahead and bought a used minivan for my husband’s business.  When we finally got home we had more freezing problems in spite of having heat in the house and my older son staying there to keep everything going.  It has been a hard week.

Before all these problems I had ordered more Back on Track stuff, for the horses the hock boots and the cap for the poll area, and for myself their little mattress pad, gloves, underwear, and long sleeve T-shirt.  I am glad I did, as I will be using all the stuff for myself this weekend when I go with my husband up North again so I don’t have to stay in a house with almost no water.  But due to the unexpected expenses of having to get another minivan and fixing the house so it is habitable again it will be a while before I can buy any more BOT products.  This is frustrating, the BOT products have done so much to reduce the amount of pain I have every day that I was planning on saving up my spending money and gradually getting their full line for myself, my husband, my kids and the horses I ride.  Maybe next week I will get to try out the poll cap and hock boots on Mick and Mia, I REALLY hope I get to ride next week!  But it will be a long while before I will be able to afford to get Mick the long pad for his back (to put under his blanket), the neck cover, and the exercise bandages to try out on the Arabs.


At least I am still walking on my own two feet.

Have a great ride if you can ride in this weather!

Jackie Cochran


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