Archive for the ‘aging parents’ category

Bikes and Horses

July 5, 2016

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

Long Winter’s Night

December 24, 2015

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The days are getting longer. It will be a month before we really notice, but I have faith this is true. It has been too dark these past weeks. The sun has gone missing.

I rarely get to the barn these days. Even the weekends have been consumed with commitments outside of my control. And when I do get there, riding is been limited as my foot continues to heal. Or maybe I’m avoiding something.

I worry about Jigs and what this funk I’m in means for our relationship. If I’m honest with myself, it is like a temporary separation. I feel guilty I’ve been so preoccupied with non-horse issues.

When I do visit, he seems glad to see me, but truly, it is the treats in the back of my car he desires.  A gelding of few words, he’s never been overly affectionate.  He’s impatient with grooming, not naughty, but I get the feeling he just tolerates it. In the 7 years we’ve been together, I’ve never found his “sweet spot.”

Most horses have one- even Pepper. His lips would quiver in ecstasy when I scratched the side of his withers. This from the horse that hated all things human. It was the only time I felt he liked me.

But Jigs tries to be above all this. Unless food is involved, it is all the same to him. Or maybe not. The other day we were in the ring playing at ground work and unbeknownst to me, my glove fell out of my pocket. The gelding of few words didn’t miss it. He picked it up and gave it to me. I was stunned.

He really is a good boy. I just need to press through this dark and be patient for the sun to return.

 

Autumn Hiatus

October 28, 2015

The last two months have been frustrating. After our last versatility in August, Jigs came up lame.

Marshfield

First an abscess,

Heel

then a case of white line.

September and October- the best time to ride in New England, and we missed most of it.

Arrggghhh….

Naturally I went through the usual paranoia and obsession. Convinced I had permanently broken Jigs, I drove my vet crazy.

Then, thankfully, he was sound again mid October.

Sunday we got to play dress up and attended our first off property ride in months.

Great Pumpkin Ride 2015

It was a great day, with great friends.

I was psyched! Next up, the Turkey Trot…. love riding around cranberry bogs…..

Sunday was perfect- a costume ride and home in time for the Patriots’ game.  I even had time to finish laundry…

Yep, laundry.

Housework gets you every time.

My ankle rolled as I was carrying an EMPTY clothes basket down the cellar stairs and I fell.

Broken Foot

Broken foot and another 6 week hiatus…….  Jigs probably thinks he hit the lottery…..

Heart Human

June 6, 2015

We all fall. It’s an inevitable part of riding.

Last night warming up for a versatility run Jigs spooked and I went off.  He spooked at, of all things, a board in a tire rut in the grass.  The rut must have seemed like a canyon to him. The board?  Who knows what he thought.

We were trotting- a medium trot, not fast, not slow. He stopped short and jumped back. It wasn’t even a massive spook, but I tilted sideward and off I went.

I’ve ridden out bigger spooks.  I should have stayed on.

Surprised by the ground, I mentally checked for injuries. Fat does have a purpose.  I got up and walked it off.  Jigs stood there stunned.  He didn’t move or try to run away, despite all the lush green grass.

This has happened before. He stays by me when I fall and seems confused I am not still on him.

The first time I went off we were cantering up the trail and he jumped to to the side. I didn’t go with him.  He stopped and looked down at me. “What you doing down there?”  He was extra careful with me for months.

I got back on last night and did our two runs before going home. I was a bit sore and distracted. We didn’t do well time wise, but he did the obstacles without fuss.

When I fell off Pepper, he didn’t stay by me.  One time he ran back to the barn causing everyone to go out and look for me. They found me walking back, muttering to myself.  When I broke my ankle Pepper ran off to a patch of grass and began eating.  At least he didn’t go back to the barn.

Pepper

Pepper

On his back or not, Pepper wasn’t interest in humans.

Not Jigs. Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing but Jigs genuinely seems upset when I fall off. He is my heart horse. A part of me suspects I’m is heart human.

Versatility - wagon wheel.

Versatility – wagon wheel.

Snow Bowl

February 10, 2015

Yes, I did watch the Super Bowl and loved the outcome. Dad was probably doing backflips in heaven. Deflated balls seem silly now.

The past week has been full of snow and cold- the trail head is plowed in.  Riding has been limited to a few bareback circles in the snow filled ring.

jigs versatility in snow 2015

Snow Ring

Below is the 5’ fence in my Mom’s back yard.  I don’t ever remember that much snow- even in the Blizzard of ’78!

Snow of 2015

More snow is one the way.

But like all things in this mortal life, the snow won’t last forever.  Spring is coming….

Of Horses, Competition, and Deflate-Gate

January 24, 2015

This year I have made the decision not to “compete” with Jigs and focus on having fun.  I expect if all goes to plan, there will be lots of trails and general fun messing around.

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It’s easy to get sucked into competition, even at the backyard level where Jigs and I live.  I woke up this morning thinking about it because, of all things, the New England Patriots.

First, I need to explain that I love football and the Patriots have been my favorite team since I can remember. I didn’t have a choice.  Dad was an avid fan even before they were in the NFL.  He took a great deal of grief from his brother-in-laws for it.  In those days the Patriots were the bottom of pro sports.

Then came 2001.  Dad and I had great fights about Brady versus Bledsoe. I was still innocent enough to be excited about the romance of a young man from nowhere beating out the star veteran for the starting spot. He said Brady was a “one hit wonder.”

I had a few years to rub in how wrong he was.  Then he got sick. In the last few years of his life, Dad wasn’t interest in football, the Patriots or much else.

Mom and I still watch NFL games every Sunday during the season.  For me, it’s a way to stay close to the father I miss so much.  A Patriot flag flies over his grave.

Back in March I was convinced this was the year the Patriots would get to the Super Bowl again.  Brady is getting older and frankly, the game is changing.  His style of play is a bit outdated. Mom and I still feel the sting of two losses to the Giants. This may be our last chance to see the Patriots and Brady win another one.

My belief in them was strong, even when they were beaten badly by Kansas City.  Mom will refute this, but only because I expressed my fears to her and kept my sureness they would figure it out secret so not to jinx them.  Isn’t funny how fans think they can change the outcome?

I went to bed last Sunday night elated my confidence in them was justified.  I was planning a Super Bowl party for my grandsons, two of whom, play football themselves. They were going to see history being made and perhaps the best Quarterback of all time play in his sixth Super Bowl. Then the next morning I heard the report of deflated balls on the local sport station.

It made no sense to me.  The Colts were no threat to them.  Why would they cheat? Yes, there was Spy-gate, but it is common knowledge all the teams do that. One of the teams this year is being investigated for using camera phones on the sidelines.

And there was Brady. He has always projected the clean cut, boy next store aura.  He wouldn’t cheat in football or on Gisele. It felt wrong.

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But as the week progressed, my faith waned with every new report.

It still makes no sense.  He played better in the second half when the balls were properly inflated.

Did he do it?

I doubt we’ll ever really know what happened.

I don’t even want to watch the Super Bowl now.

There is cheating in all sports.  Lance Armstrong. Steroids in Major League Baseball. Soring of Tennessee Walkers. Suspended race horse trainers. Hyper flexion and rollkur in Dressage. Even an endurance rider who switched horses in a race.

Everyone tries to find the edge. Some go over it to win at all cost.

There is a line between doing things to be better, like getting a good trainer, better equipment, practicing every day, and crossing the cheat line.  Some don’t care.  The Win is everything.  Ribbons and Millions are at stake. But rules are there to make an even playing field.  And in the horse world, more importantly, to protect the horse, who easily can become victim to the human will to win.

And what does the horse think? Does he enjoy competition?  I think some do, especially those who are bred for it.  Cutters cut cows naturally.  Race horses love to run and will continue even when injured. Remember Charismatic?

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But it is up to us humans to protect them- and to listen to what they like too. Not every cutter bred wants to cut.  Not every descendant of Seattle Slew wants to race.

Jigs enjoys versatility.  We may do a few this year but not to compete- just for fun.  And he LOVES trails.  We will do lots of trails this year. The goal is for both of us to have fun.

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As to whether or not I will watch the Super Bowl and cheer for the Patriots…. I don’t know. It was a small and petty cheat. Still makes no sense to me.  And I suspect all Quarterbacks try to gain similar advantages.  Aaron Rodgers already stated he tries to get away with over inflation. But it does not make it right.  If they did it; it was wrong.

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I still have the secret hope they will find a non-cheat reason for the deflated balls.  And deep down inside, I harbor the hope of one more Super Bowl win.

What would Dad say about deflate gate?  He’d say they did it, watch the game and root for the win.

2015

January 1, 2015

New Year’s Day. It’s the day I take the ribbons off Jig’s stall door. He had a decent 2014. We managed to get a few first and second places at different small venues. More importantly, we had fun.

For most people this is the time for resolutions and goals for the coming year. While there are some things I will continue to work on (cantering), my real goals are to be kind and have fun. I think if I can manage to these two things, 2015 will be fine.

We can’t control the events that happen to us, nor can we foresee them. What we can control is how we react to the chaos that happens around us and how we treat others. My hope is that I do not forget that in 2015.

Happy New Year!

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