Mud Season

Posted March 17, 2019 by heccateisis
Categories: Uncategorized, horses, trail riding, Responsible horse ownership, #besthorseintheworld, besthorseintheworld

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Overnight, snow morphed into mud.  Got to love New England!

Two weeks ago, I had to cancel my lesson because my trailer was frozen to the driveway.  (Lesson learned, don’t forget the wooden block).

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This week, it is too muddy to trailer out. (I once managed to get my trailer stuck in the mud, learned that lesson too.)

Some of the barn gals and I tried to get out on the trails, but it was too muddy; we returned back to the barn disappointed. It is sad to have a 50 degree day and not be able to ride.

Out of respect for the trails, it is best to stay off them until the mud dries up.

It’s tricky keeping horses in suburbia. Unless we trailer out to a State or National Park, we ride shorter local trails heavily used by mountain bikers, runners, hikers, dog walkers, and families. Some of them are not thrilled about horses sharing their trails. In some towns, horses already have been prohibited access.

Manure is a concern that continues to surface as a complaint. One argument I have heard is that if dog waste must be carried out of the woods, so should horse waste.  Unlike dog feces, horse manure does not contain significant pathogens that pose risk to humans or the environment. Horses are herbivores and their droppings break down quickly.

However, I understand the “ick” factor. Horse poo is large and other trail users do not want to step in it. If Jigs goes on a high traffic trail, I do get off and kick it out of the way as a courtesy. Of course, he is only 14.3 hands, so getting back on is not as much a challenge as a 16 plus hand horse would be.

I also try to be courteous to fellow trail users- many of whom have no livestock experience. I consider myself an ambassador for my sport. Friendly conversational education goes a long way to promote good will.

Will it be enough? Maybe. Maybe not. The equestrian community must take an active role in maintaining our access to trails. Some ways to do this include attending local meetings, trail work days, and joining trail organizations.

I belong to the Bay State Trail Riders Association. BSTRA has spent years supporting multi-use trails in Massachusetts. Through their advocacy, trail riders have a strong voice and a mechanism to give back to the trails.  Visit http://www.bstra.org to view the list of projects they have completed. It is impressive.

There are clubs like this all over the country. If maintaining access for trail riding is important to you, I recommend you seek out organizations in your area and add your voice and hands to the fight.

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Birthday

Posted January 13, 2019 by heccateisis
Categories: #besthorseintheworld, Family, horses, Living in the moment, Responsible horse ownership, trail riding, Uncategorized

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My family doesn’t celebrate adult birthdays. I can’t tell you the last time I had a cake. Not that I care.

Today is my birthday. I am officially over 60.

I chose today to scan my fading photos of Freedom. The old Kodak and Polaroid snapshots don’t age as well as me. Going through them has made me a little sad and a lot grateful for the life I was given.

I try not to regret anything. It’s wasted time. That doesn’t mean we cannot learn from our failures, our mistakes. In some ways, they can be a gift if we don’t rip them open carelessly.

But there is one regret I have been unable to leave behind. It is Freedom. The hurt of having to sell him to go to college is as fresh at 61 as it was at 18. My regret is that I did not fight hard enough to convince my parents to let me keep him.

Saying Goodbye August 1976

Saying Goodbye 1976

I do believe if I had not sold him, my life would be different.

Freedom was purchased by a woman who promised she would give us first right of refusal. I did visit him once, about a year after he left me.  I tried to contact her again, but the number was disconnected.

last visit

Last Visit with an Old Friend

I found out years later that she had gone through a nasty divorce. Freedom and her other horse, went to auction.

He was a good-looking appaloosa, well bred, so there is a chance he landed safely. I did reach out to the Appaloosa Horse Club to try to find his new owner, but I was still listed. The paperwork was never transferred.

I don’t know what that means. I hope he found a family to cherish him the way I did.  I think about him every day. He lives in my heart.

2019 Prospective

Posted December 30, 2018 by heccateisis
Categories: #besthorseintheworld, aging parents, besthorseintheworld, Family, horses, poetry of apaul, Responsible horse ownership, trail riding, Uncategorized

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End of December is the time for retrospectives of the year. A lot of the bloggers I follow have posted theirs already. One stated that blogs are old school and announced she is moving to other venues, pod casts, on line classrooms, for a fee. The free blog will remain, but I wonder for how long. Everyone must make a living. I get that.

Rather than looking back, I am looking toward 2019. Disclaimer-despite my fondness for Tarot, I am not clairvoyant. Expectations may or may not be realized. There will be hardships. There will be moments of joy. My hope is joy will out weight hardships.

And what are my expectations?

I expect to laugh and cry with those I love. I expect to continue preparing for retirement. I expect to ride Jigs down new trails. I expect to attend horse events, lessons, cow sorting, versatility, maybe a show if I get brave. I expect to win a few ribbons. Maybe.

Missing are my wished-for things: economic stability, a truck, Jigs at home with me, a finished book of poetry, 40 years in the making.

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On January first, I will take down the ribbons Jigs won in 2018 and put away the memories of our successes, near successes, and yes, failures.

The space above his stall will be empty- a proverbial blank slate- a space for realized possibilities that will become 2019.

Happy New Year’s!

 

Next Year….

Posted November 11, 2018 by heccateisis
Categories: #besthorseintheworld, Living in the moment, Responsible horse ownership, trail riding, Uncategorized

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Versatility season is over. This week I got to watch my friend and the mustang she trained compete at Equine Affair and do very well. It was exciting cheering for them.

Daylight Savings has ended, and my lessons will be on hold, or at least rescheduled due to lack of light. I have learned a lot since we started them. but still have a long way to go.

I am gaining confidence. Although my goal was to get better at the canter, we have also improved the trot thanks to my instructor.  She doesn’t get frustrated when I repeatedly ask her to break things down. She’s also not afraid to get on Jigs and show me.

This all paid off- in September and October, Jigs earned two first place finishes. And won money!!! I must say Jigs was more impressed with the treats that came with that prize.

Last weekend we finished second in a large pleasure ride.

North Brookfield Pleasure Ride - 2018

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More importantly, Jigs appears to enjoy these competitions. If he didn’t, we would stop. I would be okay riding trails and collecting miles.  Having said that, we may expend our horizon next year…. maybe a few cow clinics or perhaps try, dare I think it, a show?

Do Horses Need Vacations from Humans?

Posted October 6, 2018 by heccateisis
Categories: #besthorseintheworld, horses, Living in the moment, poetry of apaul, Responsible horse ownership, trail riding, Uncategorized

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Summer is gone.

Not sure how and when it went but it is definitely gone. This morning was cold enough to require a jacket- orange to be visible to hunters, although it is not deer season yet.

Riding was a luxury this past summer. Work got into the way. My mother was ill.

Fall started off the same. In September I spent two weeks in Australia, missing some of my favorite organized trail rides. Except for a few sessions with my instructor, Jigs was on vacation.

Last weekend, after only riding twice since my return, we competed in a local Versatility. Jigs was a superstar and we finished first overall! I am proud of him.

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1st Place 2018

Winning despite our light riding schedule got me to thinking. I had been feeling guilty about not spending time with him, about not riding enough, for heaven sakes, about not grooming him enough. These are the thoughts that run wild when I am stressed, when I am tired.

Jigs is a horse. He may have noticed I was missing, or not. After all, he had his herd mates, daily feedings. He gets the best care at the barn where he is boarded. Isn’t that what matter most to him?

Is it human hubris to think I matter to him when out of sight?

Maybe the time off was good for him. He got a break, a vacation if you will, from my constant stress and self-nagging. Maybe not.

The one thing I do know, Jigs was certainly a superstar last weekend!

Loosestrife

Posted July 22, 2018 by heccateisis
Categories: aging parents, besthorseintheworld, horses, poetry of apaul, trail riding, Uncategorized

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“Invasive,”

the word conjures

metal armored legions

and goose-stepping Fascists,

not the purple-palled spires

that rise from marsh ponds

and riverbanks.

Every Summer, the purple army

spreads across New England.

“A plague,” say some.

 

Some years it is

gypsy moth caterpillars.

Their obnoxious pellets

cover everything

from cars to picnics.

Nothing is sacred.

One year they stripped the leaves

from the trees so that August

resembled April and Spring

came twice that year.

At night, we even heard

their munching in our sleep-

noxious soldiers

devouring forests.

 

Experts warned

the trees would die

if the caterpillars

were not stopped.

Three years of deleafing

is more than even

an oak can stand.

So that Spring

we wound foil

and Vaseline

around tree trunks,

sprayed insecticide

at the base,

and held our breath

as we waited

for the barrage to descend

from silken tents.

 

Nothing happened.

No caterpillars

wicked as Nazis,

organized as Romans

arrived. “A virus,”

experts shrugged.

 

 

The Amazon basin

is being strip mined,

the Borneo rainforest

razed by loggers.

We consume, inhabit

every place march out

even into space.

Look at those purple spires,

feathers reaching

toward the sun.

They reflect back

in the black pond water,

nodding occasionally

to the wind,

or a ripple

from a passing trout.

#besthorseintheworld

Posted July 4, 2018 by heccateisis
Categories: #besthorseintheworld, besthorseintheworld, Family, horses, Living in the moment, Responsible horse ownership, trail riding, Uncategorized

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Last night something wonderful happened.

It’s been hot. Too hot to ride with the temps in the 90s and the humidity above 65.  But there was a slight breeze last night and I could hear thunder in the distance- a promise of relief that never came.

I decided to jump on bareback for a few moments. My thought was to navigate a few obstacles and then hose him off.

Jigs cooperated- well, in between trying to grab the long grass at the edge of the area. We trotted around a bit. We chased the big jolly ball.

And then something wonderful happened. I wrapped my legs around his rib cage and we loped!

Honestly it was totally by accident. Normally our transitions are fraught with bumps between lope and trot or walk.

Not this time. Jigs picked up a carousel type lope and transitioned back to the walk smoothly after a few strides. I was shocked. Tears filled my eyes.

At first it was an accident. Then I asked for it. We did it again, and again.

The last time I loped bareback was as a teenager on Freedom! I never thought at my age I would be able to do it.

Thank you to #thebesthorseintheworld!!!

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