Archive for the ‘Responsible horse ownership’ 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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Judge Pleasure Ride

June 25, 2018

My First Trophy

We did it. We won the Senior Division of the 2018  Bay State Trail Rider’s Lea MacInnis Judged Pleasure Ride! We have never finished better than second before.

The funny thing is that our scores were better last year. Jigs and I left a lot of points on the trail, but a win is a win and we have some things to work on! Points were lost because I rushed Jigs and in one case, did not listen to instructions. User error.

Unlike a versatility, the Lea Macginnis Judged Pleasure Ride is a trail ride with obstacles sprinkled throughout. Points are awarded for how well the horse and rider perform each task. Some obstacles are like those in a versatility or trail class; others are  closer to what trail riders encounter on the trail. For example, this year’s challenge included crossing a narrow metal bridge over running water. You had to dismount and walk your horse across, then remount. An extra point was awarded for mounting on the offside.

Jigs and I needed that point. He HATES these types of bridges and rushed passed me to his friends on the other side. Naughty pony.

I fretted most of the 7 miles about the upcoming second to last obstacle. It was a jump and then a canter. I am terrified of jumping and, well, I have no confidence at the canter.

Fretting Face

Canter? I have to Canter in public?

Jigs trotted to the jump and stepped over it, nicking the rail with his hind hoof and loosing a point, BUT we got the canter correct!!!  Trophy or not, that made the day perfect.

judged ride blue ribbon 2018

Senior Division

My friend and her young mustang took over all champion and won the year end award. I am so proud of them!

Unicorn Horns

June 18, 2018

Jigs and I snagged third in Sunday’s versatility.  Not terrible, but not competitive.

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3rd Open Division

After only two riding lessons, I am not confident to canter between obstacles. But I AM more aware of my lack of riding skills.  My body lurches too far forward and my legs curl too far back.  Watching the video of our run was painful. Ugg.

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Beep Beep Beep or Back Back Back

I’m having doubts that I can get better.

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Cracking the Egg

But we had fun, even managed to sneak into the Atlantic Ocean to cool off.

That’s the whole point, isn’t it? Relieving stress? Not creating it?

The minis at the versatility were so damned cute. Watching them helped me forget my shortcomings. And there was a horse with a UNICORN HORN!  A lovely, shiny rainbow horn.

Ebay, Etsy. I searched  and found they are out there. Unicorn Horns. For sale! Realize your fantasy. What color should I order?

Jigs would  ABSOLUTELY hate having a unicorn horn.

He was not thrilled with the flowers I clipped to his mane or the bright blue biothane tack or the turquoise saddle seat. Okay It’s me who is not too keen on the seat and horses don’t see color that well.

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Waiting Our Turn

As I told someone recently, I am one of those aged women who try to relive the childhood we wish we had with glittery tack.

If I can’t be a good rider, maybe I can distract myself with sparkles?

There is another versatility next weekend and a trail competition…. Best to stick with the riding lessons. Better for Jigs, better for me.

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!