Archive for the ‘Living in the moment’ category

Next Year….

November 11, 2018

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?

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Do Horses Need Vacations from Humans?

October 6, 2018

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!

#besthorseintheworld

July 4, 2018

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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Cow Clinic

February 11, 2018

We went to a cow sorting clinic yesterday. Given the mud, ice, rain, and snow this winter, being in a dry indoor with good footing was a treat.

Jig and I tried sorting three or four years ago. We I was not very good. He loved it and remained laser focused on the cows even when not on the ring. He seemed to enjoy the idea that they were there to do what he wanted.

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Waiting for the cows

I figured the clinic would be a good way for us to see if we should do a few competitions this season. There was supposed to be a sorting contest today, but alas, there is more rain and mud in the forecast, so it was canceled- too much mud for trailers.

Our very brief foray into sorting made us the “experienced” ones.  Well, there was a retired cutter, but cutting is what he wanted to do when he saw the cows.  Cutting and sorting are quite different.

The clinician was good. She competes herself, and quickly assessed the level of partnership between each horse and rider.  Jigs and Spock, my friend’s mustang, were sized up as having good groundwork skills, although she pointed out that Jigs is lazy. Yep.

We watched as she worked with other pairs to improve their groundwork skills. That made for a long afternoon of waiting our turn. Each horse was introduced to the cows on the ground before mounting up.  It was a good approach because a few horses were overwhelmed by the a low keyed cows.

Waiting our turn

Waiting our turn

At the end of the clinic we teamed up for a trial sort run. Jigs got both his cows, but we were not good on the line. Jigs was excited and wanted to go back after another cow. I had to work to keep his attention on me, as a result, one slipped by.

Despite the boring periods of watching others, I did learn quite a bit. There will be a team sort competition in our future.

Birthday Post

January 12, 2018

I will be 60 tomorrow.

A milestone.

Tomorrow is my birthday

I don’t feel 60.

I still feel like that horse crazy girl the other kids made fun of- the girl who galloped through the playground pretending to be a wild horse.

I still feel like the horse crazy girl whose parents wouldn’t, couldn’t understand.

I still feel like the horse crazy girl who cried for weeks because her parents chose a swimming pool over horse camp.

I still feel like the horse crazy girl who fell off the borrowed, nasty pony mare every day, without loosing faith. The mare who taught persistence and how to ride bareback because there was no saddle.

I still feel like the horse crazy girl who loved an appaloosa yearling- love a first sight in the bowels of a horse trader’s barn. The little horse who saved my life.

I still feel like the horse crazy girl who had to accept college over heart’s desire.

me and freedom-2

I still feel like the horse crazy middle-aged girl who loved Pepperoni. Who bought Pepperoni even though he had uveitis . Pepper who taught me everything- Pepper who taught me that love means letting go.

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Pepper

I still feel like the middle-aged grieving girl who walked around a corner that fateful February and found the red pony- the red pony with the “here I am, what took you so long” look.

I still feel like the middle-aged woman who was stunned to win a saddle because her red pony really was the best horse that day- we were just having fun.

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I still feel like the middle-aged woman who stresses about how work and family keep her from the red pony.  The woman who dropped 26 pounds for her pony’s sake.

I am the one day from 60-year-old woman whose red pony threw half a flake of hay on her, as if to share his dinner- birthday eve gift.

I will always be that horse crazy girl….

Marshfield Fair Horse Versatility

September 1, 2017

We didn’t win the first-place buckle; we didn’t get the red ribbon, but I’m thrilled with our yellow Marshfield Fair Versatility Ribbon. My goal was to finish better than 5th as in past years and we did!

Marshfield Fair Versatility

Marshfield Fair 2017

More exciting was that we were the only horse and rider to accomplish three clear rounds!

The course contained a technical obstacle that required slow and careful steps- a “merry-go-round” with boards set on a barrel with jump cups. The goal was to go all the way around without knocking them down. Navigating it required concentration. Until round 3, it had tripped up the faster and more accomplished riders.

The funny thing is we had practiced a similar setup at home and, every time, Jigs knocked down the cavaletti. I think he thought he would get extra points treats for hitting them.  I was shocked at how careful he was at Marshfield. One of the other riders even complimented me on how “careful” he is with his feet.

Jigs “careful” on his feet? As great a trail pony as he is, he is not the most sure-footed animal at the barn.

I wonder if he knows the difference between, pardon the cliché, “horsing around” in the ring and competition?

Or maybe he understood me when I told him before the first run, “there’s a bag of apples if you go all three runs clear.”  He is a clever hungry pony.

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Got Apples?

Once the better riders figured out they couldn’t rush the merry-go-round, they easily beat my time.  While slow and steady doesn’t win the speed events, it was good enough for a yellow Marshfield Fair Ribbon!

Read the Instructions

July 23, 2017

I’m not the most patient or the most graceful person.  I don’t always exhibit common sense. That’s not the greatest formula for developing and maintaining an equine relationship. But Jig’s is tolerant. Jigs is forgiving. And I suspect Jigs finds my awkwardness amusing.

Despite my shortcomings, we have become nearly competent at navigating obstacles over the years. This is good for judged competitions that consider correctness more important than speed. Unfortunately, most of the competitions in our area value speed over correctness. If you complete the obstacle, credit is given. How is not a factor.

We will never be fast. Jigs is capable; I am not.

Last weekend we attended a judged ride where speed was only a tie breaker.  We approached each obstacle slowly and I remembered to breath. Except for a slight bobble at the gate and and my poor aim on the paper and bean bag toss, we were solid.

Collected enough points for second place.

Judge Pleasure Ride

But we could have had a another point had I read the directions all the way through.

At sign up we were handed an instruction page and told to read it. I got through three quarters before something distracted me. I put the paper in my back pocket intending to finish it later and promptly forgot about it.

The last sentence was “remember to turn in this paper at the end of the ride…”

Oops.

It was a good lesson. This human has another thing to work on.

July Ride