Weather Changes Impact my Position

When I was able to celebrate the New Years by riding a horse I was hoping that this would precede a winter full of riding. Of course Nature did not agree with my hopes and dreams.

At least I've had a lesson every week.

This winter has not been kind to my position. Sam pointed out earlier that my right lower leg was drifting back. My right lower leg FELT like it was in the right place, and that it was in the same place as my left leg. Often with the MS I just cannot trust what I feel in regard to my position on the horse.

Debbie finally recovered from her sickness and I had her back for my lessons. This week I asked her to “spot” my right leg while I was doing a “rider-push-up” at the halt and my right leg went back. Then I asked her to hold my right leg for my next “push-up”. When my right lower leg was in the correct place my right foot felt like it was SIX INCHES further forward than my left foot. Even though my lower legs were in the correct places I felt extremely unstable and the less said about my balance the better.

Poor Bingo. He has been quite patient with my problems. He has not been reacting to my aids quickly but since my body was so askew he has just been asking me “are you sure?”, “is this what you want?” underlined by a hope that I would get my body back together so I could ride effectively.

I had a cold all this past week and it added new problems. Though I may go months or years without needing to use a cane indoors all of a sudden there were two days where I HAD TO use a cane inside. One leg or another I was just not sure of where my knee was, and my usual solution—to devote my full attention to my body while I walked, just was not working.

On Wednesday I was too sick to have a lesson, and Debbie was kind enough to reschedule me for Friday morning. Lately down here we have had wonderfully warm days for January, but it seems to rain each and every warmish day, the only comfort is that we do need the rain. I got lucky on Friday in that it was not raining, but it was a lot cooler with a bitter wind. I probably should not have ridden on Friday but my body was telling me it HAD TO get up on a horse so I could “relocate” all the various parts of my body.

When I saw Debbie I told her that I was just not able to help her with the grooming like I usually do. All morning I had been conserving my energy and I was still wiped out. Debbie was pretty cheerful about all this and proceeded to groom Bingo while I was collapsed in a chair. I rested up enough so I was able to walk out to the ring (for a while I was thinking I'd have to mount in the barn and be led out) and I managed to drag myself up on Bingo. Of course I had Bingo swaddled with two exercise sheets (one which is BOT), the BOT lower leg wraps, the BOT saddle pad, the BOT poll cap, and the Fenwick face mask with ears so his poor ears would not get too cold. Bingo seems to forgive me a lot of riding sins if he can huddle under his butt-blankets in the cold wind.

I put the top exercise sheet over my thighs which helped me a little bit.

So we walked around while I tried (and tried, and tried) to get my right foot in the proper place. I did some two-point though I was not strong enough to keep my seat out of the saddle for long. Going through our usual curves and turns Bingo was not as prompt in his obedience, but that was my fault since I just could not tell when my body was in the right place.

Considering that when I first started riding Bingo he was super quick to take advantage of any of my riding faults I consider this proof positive that coddling Bingo over all these months has really paid off for me. Now, instead of grabbing the bit and running to the gate Bingo just keeps on plodding, putting one foot ahead of the other, and he tries to interpret my rather confusing aids. He did make me use my lower leg a good bit to keep moving, but he kept moving instead of balking. Being kind to one's riding horse CAN pay off!

In the cold wind I only lasted 20 minutes, and when I started to dismount my body just was not cooperating with me. Debbie had to hold my left knee into the saddle before I could manage a rather graceless dismount (Sorry, Bingo!)

But when I got home I was walking fine and this has continued even though I am still suffering from this cold. I even had enough energy to walk to my mailbox late yesterday afternoon.

May next week be better.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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Comment by B. G. Hearns on January 29, 2020 at 11:09am

I do hope you have a better time riding as the winter goes along.

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