The winter weather is not helping my riding at all.
Wednesday morning it was raining, of course, but luckily Debbie was willing to give me my lesson on Thursday. On Thursday morning she called me worried about the super sloppy ring and the possibility of ice, but she agreed to giving me a lesson when I told her that I was not up to much beyond the walk and that I was not physically able to do anything more ambitious than a slow sitting trot. Then, with not riding regularly for weeks, I forgot completely about doing my home made bit warmer and I had to warm up the bit in my hands.
I brought my new Back on Track hock boots and Therapeutic Horse Hood to the stable, eager to see if they made any difference. I started by putting a hock boot on Mick’s left hock and I waited to see how he reacted to it. Everything was fine until he moved his left hind leg then he started kicking out. When he stood still there was no problem, but every time he moved his left hind the kicking started up again. After three kicking sessions I took the boot off. Debbie said he had probably never had anything around his hock before, and when I asked her if she minded me putting it on before riding when I rode Mick she was all for it, and she said that I should just expect that it would take a few weeks before he decided that the hock boot was harmless. I had gotten the hock boots for Mia since she has an occult spavin in her right hock, but I also wanted to try them on Mick because of his back problems since I have this theory that his back problem may cause extra strain on his hocks. Luckily I had no problems with the Therapeutic Horse Hood, probably since it covers just about the same area as an ear bonnet. Of course I had my new Back on Track long sleeve T-shirt on and my new BOT glove liners on, and since there was a bitter cold North wind I was really glad to have the extra warmth!
When Debbie got Mick’s back clean I went ahead and did the Ttouch circles down his back. As we tacked up Debbie decided to attach the girth to the second and third billet straps instead of the first and third billet straps. This made a difference when she tightened up the girth, Mick did not get his usual sour and hostile face and did not do any threats of nipping. So, with both exercise sheets on we went out to the ring where Mick did not seem to mind the final girth tightening as much as usual. When we started walking around the ring I was glad I had remembered the Ttouch circles, Mick’s back was nice, loose, relaxed and “swinging”. I was SO GLAD to be back in the saddle after two weeks on not riding! Mick and I proceeded around the very sloppy ring and he was very good about going through the puddles, that was a good thing because the ring was FULL of puddles. After a while I asked Mick for a sitting trot and I was pleasantly surprised, while his back was sort of stiff and his back was using a lot of “body English” I did not feel like my brain was bouncing off my skull. Debbie was pleased because Mick was using both of his hind legs equally, usually one is sort of straggling off behind. I guess that Mick’s kicking from the hock boot did some good in making his hock more supple.
Mick’s back did not get stiff until after we did a turn on the hindquarters, but after the turn it took a lot less time to get his back “swinging” again at the walk. Several minutes later I asked Mick to back up. At first he did not want to go, so I kept asking with gentle increases in pressure, and finally he gave me one step back at which point I sent him forward again. This affected his back worse than the turn on the hindquarters and it took me getting up in two-point at the walk before his back started loosening up again. I did not try anything more and I just walked the rest of my lesson.
The combination of the Back on Track saddle pad and the Back on Track exercise sheet seem to be slowly helping Mick’s back. Remember, he does not have them on his back more than around 45 minutes a week, during which time I only ride 30 minutes, hardly enough time to make a major improvement. As long as I remember to do the Ttouch circles on his back as well as using the BOT stuff he starts off walking with a softly “swinging” back which is a VAST improvement, before I got the BOT stuff and I just did the Ttouch circles he would start off loose but quickly stiffen up, now with the Ttouch circles and the BOT saddle pad and exercise sheet he starts off the lesson with a loose swinging back and his back stays loose until I do a turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand, or back up, and then it takes a lot less time to get his back loose again.
I couldn’t really evaluate the BOT Therapeutic Horse Hood (which is supposed to relax the poll and first two neck vertebrae) because I had two gloves on each hand and I could not feel the reins very well. Mick did not seem to mind it at all, and I am sure he appreciated the extra warmth in the bitterly cold wind. Of course my new JP bit with the copper ball is already relaxing Mick’s poll some since he occasionally rolls the little ball with his tongue. Anyway, Mick gently told me, by raising his head some, that my contact was not as good as usual but it was a very civilized and subtle correction on his part. When it gets warm enough so I just have to wear one glove on each hand or warm enough so I don’t have to wear gloves at all I will be better able to evaluate the effect of the hood.
As for my pain relief using the Back on Track people products--it is almost miraculous! I used to have to drink one hard cider each night and drink coffee in the morning to help with my various pains, but I have not had to drink the hard cider for weeks now and coffee in the morning is now just a pleasure instead of an absolute necessity. The BOT small mattress pad is wonderful to sleep on, the underwear is REALLY helping my hip bursitis (which has been going on for over 30 years), my stiff neck still exists but is now a lot less painful, and my arm pains have disappeared since I started wearing the long sleeve T-shirt. It is SO WONDERFUL not to wake up in pain! During this time I have been in the car a lot more than usual and, unlike other times, I do not end up in a lot of back and neck pain. I am now a true believer and I recommend their products for pain, even pain that has lasted for decades.
If the weather permits have a great ride!