Tired of Being Exhausted

When I bought my Home Horse (HH) and Anywhere Saddle Chair (ASC) I was full of bright and optimistic hopes of improving my riding, of increasing the strength of my riding muscles, of improving my balance, and of being able to practice such mundane things like posting and 2-point. I was determined not to let these simulators just sit and collect dust, darn it I was going to USE them!


Yes, I started off and planned a gradually increasing physical challenges for my riding muscles and balance at home and avoiding irritating a patient lesson horse. It worked, for a short while, my riding muscles were getting stronger and I had more balance while walking on my own two feet, and I had a hint of more endurance. Then the exhaustion hit, and with the exhaustion these simulators took away from my riding rather than improving it. MS exhaustion is pervasive, every single cell of my body feels tired and broadcasts that to the world.

Until my lesson on Wednesday I did not get a full picture of how much this exhaustion was interfering with my ability to ride the horses well. Oh there were hints but sometimes it takes my mind a while to put it all together.

Grooming MJ I switched from my Eqclusive New Generation curry to the Strip Hair grooming tool because the last time I curried MJ he showed irritation, a first with this curry comb. The Strip Hair worked quite well without irritating MJ, and combined with the Haas Schimmel dandy brush got MJ's coat pretty clean (though not perfectly clean). Debbie got him cleaner with the Haas Country boar bristle body brush mainly though she used the Haas Military brush to get his girth area cleaner.

When we started our ride MJ felt stiff, but not much stiffer than usual. He did not respond as much as usual to my alternating legs at the girth, if he extended any it was just by a few millimeters, and when I hit my half-chap with my whip it did not good. He just felt like he did not have enough in him to work through his stiffness at the walk. So I started the posting trot early, which resulted in MJ giving me a decent walk, but he just would not extend. I don't blame him much, I was getting tireder and tireder every step and that dread feeling of exhaustion permeated my body. MJ is old, I am old, and when we both get stiff and tired we do not perform as well as hoped. My body got exhausted and MJ sure was not going to put himself out for me.

It was not all negative, Debbie praised my hands for not irritating MJ though she did get after me to get my hands even. He accepted the curb bit fine when I kept contact with just the curb, but unlike before during previous lessons he just would not extend his stride. So we poked around the ring with MJ loosening up a little bit. He trotted sound, his back felt fine after his warm-up, Debbie did not see evidence of pain, so the fault in my ride was probably my exhaustion.

When I got home I sat down and thought. Obviously using my simulators was getting me too tired to ride properly, even though I had cut down on them quite a bit. So nowadays I am going to try and replicate riding three times a week, once or twice on a horse (hopefully) and once on the HH, and once my ASC, leaving out the ride on the HH out if I get to ride twice in one week. I will still get really tired but I hope I won't get into exhaustion.

If Shannon comes over to my place tomorrow to ride the simulators (it will be raining) I will try to get at least 10 minutes on the HH, just keeping my balance, using my saddle and keeping my feet in the stirrups. It seems like a good time to have Shannon keep an eagle eye on the bubble balance when I experiment with getting up into and staying in the 2-point position. My goal is to get up into two-point without the HH swaying much under me, I want to be able to get up into two-point without badly influencing the horse's balance and having a 2-point position in a neutral balance instead of overloading the horse's forehand. With the extra shims I wedged way under the HH stabilizing it so I do not sway wildly with every movement of mine, I have a chance of getting the “feel” of a stable 2-point position on a standing horse. Then, in a week or two I can add on to this if I can find center and keep myself in center. Maybe my body will learn that this is what I want to do instead of teetering back and forth from my lack of balance and strength. Later on, once I can reliably find center in my 2-point, I can branch out into keeping good balance while “walking” the HH with my hips, learning what it feels like to return to true center twice a “stride”. Then, probably much later on I can do this “posting”, something I just cannot do right now. My concentration now will be on doing minor things with my position on the HH and learning how to keep to center while doing them instead of sending the HH into swaying wildly under me. I am sure that the horses will appreciate any extra stability when I ride them, and if I can learn how to return to center every time I move I will irritate the horses much less each ride.

At least those are my hopes. I also hope I can get myself to do this gradually enough so I do not sent myself into exhaustion while improving my riding by exercising off a horse. If I could use my simulators every day I could improve my riding rapidly and pretty easily. It so frustrating to have the proper tools but, darn it, my body just gets exhausted using them so I do not make much progress at all.

Thank you all for reading my journey. I know that there are other horse people out there who suffer extreme exhaustion frequently. I just hope that my tales on here give them a road map of how to get back to riding effectively, even though they might have to spend all their riding time at a walk.

At least I am still riding horses!

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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