SNUD

Posted February 20, 2017 by heccateisis
Categories: Uncategorized

SNow + mUD = SNUD

Two days above 50 degrees have turned my local trail to a slushy mess; I’ve decided it is best to stay off.

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I ride regularly in a network of community trails shared by runners, hikers, dog walkers, mountain bikers, and families.  Ten years ago, it was mostly horses, hikers, and during season, hunters, on the trails. Occasionally we’d come across ATVs. Almost always polite, they would stop, shut off their engines, and let us pass. Never bothered my horses much.

A lot has changed in ten years. The buffer of privately owned woods surrounding the conservation area are now subdivisions filled with mini-McMansions.  One of my favorite trotting trails abuts a house. Just three years ago, it was in the middle of the woods.

Those of us who ride regularly are hearing rumblings that we may be told horses are no longer welcome. Complaints about hooves damaging trails, manure, and safety of non-riders have surfaced.

Some of my fellow riders have ridden these trails for over twenty years.

Is it fair?

I’m not sure that matters. There are more of them than there are of us.

Trail riders in heavily populated areas must change habits or we will be denied access. That means staying off trails in mud season, removing manure from trails, and remaining polite as we approach non-riders, even when they are not polite to us. We are the ambassadors of our sport and of our equine companions.

To ensure equestrians retain access to trails, we must support them through advocacy and maintenance. How? Represent equestrian needs at local meetings. Spend time volunteering for cleanup days.  Membership in organizations, such as Bay State Trail Riders Association, that advocate and maintain multi-use trails is a great place to start.

If we do not do this, horses, like ATVs, may no longer be allowed and horses on public trails will become a distant memory.

Saddle Fit

Posted January 19, 2017 by heccateisis
Categories: Family, horses, Living in the moment, trail riding, Uncategorized

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Jigs has gotten “girthy” of late so I had the chiropractor/saddle fitter out yesterday.  A bit of adjustment to Jigs and shims, along with a new girth, and all should be well.  This saddle will work fine for both of us.

I ordered the Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief girth from Amazon. It should be here tomorrow, in time for the weekend.

He also recommended cantering more to build up Jigs’ hind end. And poles. (Jigs does drag his toes.) Poles are a game to Jigs- he has the mistaken belief that the object is to STEP on them.

Did I say I HATE ring work?

I did and the chiropractor suggested an alternative: hill work. Stopping on steep inclines will force him to use his hind quarters more. That we can do.

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Hi

 

Happy New Year

Posted January 1, 2017 by heccateisis
Categories: horses, Living in the moment, Responsible horse ownership, trail riding, Uncategorized

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January 1, 2017. New Year’s Day.

2017 is a precipice that I can’t see across or below.

Distracted and without focus I stumbled through the ravine of 2016 with Jigs at my side. Together, we got through, despite my obsessions, despite my fears.

Worried about saddle fit we acquired our 6th in as many years. The last two saddles were too big for us both. This time I went with the western tree with English rigging. It’s much easier to girth up and puts even pressure on both sides. I think this one will work once I figure out the shims.

And because I’m impatient, I purchased the one in stock- the one with a blue suede seat and bling. So not me. But in November I threw caution to the wind and purchased a matching blue headstall. Jigs looks handsome in it. Add an orange pad and reins for hunting season and we are a color rush team. Getting outside of my comfort zone was healthy.

Jigs is 14 this year. We are entering our 8th year together. A long-term relationship takes commitment. We have our disagreements, but always have each other’s back. This fall was especially hard. Commitments kept me from the barn too many nights and some weekends. It is one of the reasons at this point in my life I must board.

Horses don’t care if they are ridden.  They are content if there is food, water, and good pasture. Do they notice when their humans are not around? Based on my own observations, I believe they do. When I’m away for an extended period, I hear barn tales of “naughty” Jigs. A few weeks ago, when I was unable to get to the barn for several days, Jigs let himself out of his stall and helped himself to a bale of hay. He tried to sneak back into his stall when the barn manager arrived. He knew.

And he knows the sound of my car. I often find him waiting for me at the gate while the other horses graze in the back of the field.  He will leave his herd and run to me when I call. And then there are those days when he is sleeping in the field and doesn’t get up when I go to collect him. It is comforting to think I am not considered a threat. I usually sit by and wait for his nap to be over. Why rush when the pasture is full of sun?

So, yes, it is mutual relationship, with give and take. Whatever is over the precipice, I cannot see now, but I am optimistic and full of hope for what is there.

jigs-getting-a-drink

Turkey Trot Myles Standish State Forest

Bikes and Horses

Posted July 5, 2016 by heccateisis
Categories: aging parents, Family, horses, Living in the moment, Responsible horse ownership, Uncategorized

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My non-horse friends think I am a pony obsessed lunatic. They could be right. I am rather fond of my pony. He is wonderful. I could not ask for a better partner- equine or human.

Today we loaded up my grandson’s bike into my Jeep, Jigs in the trailer and headed over to Upton State Forest to ride/bike. Upton State has a mix of trails but I figured if we stayed on the gravel roads, my grandson would be able to ride comfortably.

Before we left, I told Jigs, “your job is to keep the boy in front of you.”  He took that literally. It was fine downhill when we had to trot to keep up.  It wasn’t so bad on the flats, well, except for when my grandson did serpentines. Jigs followed right behind him, doing his own serpentines. This horse hates serpentines.

boy and bike

The issue was uphill. What goes down must go up and for bikes, not so easy.  Jigs really wanted to stay behind him.

I did not.

I wanted to lope up the trail.

It took a lot of leg. When Jigs got beside the bike, he broke into a trot again and tried to swing behind the bike. More leg to push him straight. More leg to lope.

We stopped at the top to wait for the boy. The whole time Jigs was watching for him. When the bike came around the bend, Jigs sighed deeply.

boy and bike 5

Lake Dennison Pleasure Ride

Posted June 27, 2016 by heccateisis
Categories: Uncategorized

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Glorious ride at Lake Dennison yesterday! The Bay State Trail Riders Association (http://bstra.org/) have permanently marked a 10-mile loop.  The trails are wide open with room for fast- so much so that we blew by one of the markers and did an extra 2 miles. I didn’t mind because it was such a perfect day!

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Summer Plans

Posted June 24, 2016 by heccateisis
Categories: Uncategorized

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End of June- another vacation week gloriously squandered. Jigs is looking good, much fitter than last year at this time, although we are still struggling with the remains of white line in his front left.  The abnormally dry weather has not helped. He is sound, but I am taking precautions and riding with boots. A healthy dose of paranoia is not unwarranted.

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Our plans for summer are focused on trails.  I bought a Garmin Vivosmart HR GPS watch that uploads our rides to Garmin Connect. I’ve been using it in parallel with Endomondo. Tracked miles do not match but are close.  I really like the watch but have years of miles stored on Endomondo.  Also Garmin Connect does not have a social sharing feature and is limited to Garmin owners, which none of my friends are, so for now, I will use both.

I also acquired a “free” Garmin Montana 600. It took me a while (and some help from a friend’s husband) to figure out how to record tracks. Now I have to find a way to upload them to my computer! The 600 is much bulkier than the watch but I suspect more accurate in deep woods.  I’m looking forward to downloading trail maps for future adventures.  So many trails to explore!

spencer ride

Riding in March

Posted March 20, 2016 by heccateisis
Categories: Family, horses, Responsible horse ownership, trail riding, Uncategorized

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Ah, Spring. Even with the abnormally mild winter, the joy of Spring is real.  Of course there is snow predicted for tomorrow, but March snow doesn’t last and only serves to underscore the delight of sun and warmth.

Saturday was the first off property ride of the year! More to come, I hope. We rode with 10 friends, the largest group we have ever gone out with! The horses were all excited but remained in control. Jigs even wanted to go and we got the BIG trot going.

Jigs and ap 3-19-16

Douglas State Forest March Ride

Yes, my calves are sore, but out again we went today, this time alone. I chattered to Jigs the whole way. One of his ears flipped back to catch my words.  We were two old friends catching up.

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Old friends

The warmth and  light have returned!