Archive for the ‘trail riding’ category

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.

jigs at cow clinic 2

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.


Sunday Scare

January 21, 2018

Jigs scared us today. We have been partners for 8 years and apart for a muscle tear quite a few years back and some abscesses, he’s been relatively healthy. Not so much today.

While being hoof trimmed, one side of his body started twitching. He was wobbly at the walk. I was terrified.

An emergency vet visit was warranted. My trusty vet was off; her coverage was one and a half hours away.

While waiting, he pooped, twice. There was a touch of blood in the first pass. For non-horse people, pooping is extremely important. Horse people have no qualms about picking through and analyzing poop. It’s just digested grass after all.  We can be quite obsessive about it and it is a common discussion point at barns everywhere.

Not pooping can mean an impaction and surgery…or worse. What goes in a horse must come out via poop. According to Google, horses have between 50 and 70 feet of intestines.  That is a lot of real-estate for problems. A problem can be a death sentence. A few weeks ago, an acquaintance lost her precious horse to colic. It is heartbreaking.

The twitching frightened me. Could it be HYPP? HYPP or equine Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis Disease occurs in quarter horse who trace back to the stallion Impressive. Muscle twitching is a symptom. Jigs’ origin is not known. He is muscular, like many Impressive breed horses.


Jigs at Arcadia

I did do some DNA testing on Jigs. It’s not accurate. His DNA came back in order , Argentinian Crollio, Holsteiner, and Missouri Fox Trotter. Huh?  Barely 14.2 hands, where did the Hosteiner come from? He looks like a quarter horse.

I was freaking out. Could he have a genetic disease? How would I know? Google made it worse.

My friend suggested I ride her mare. I am not a good enough rider to ride her lovely mare, but I needed distraction, so I did. Thank you, Amy.


Me Riding Babe

The vet came.

She did the exam. He was slightly off on the hind, but barely. Not like earlier when he was wobbling. She did a full exam and felt no impaction, although one side of his gut was less active than the other. She said he is so small she got a good feel of most of his intestines and he was fine. Such a relief.

She did bloodwork. His platelets were a bit low and his calcium a tad high, but overall, he was fine. She said if it were a different time of year and if he had a fever, the diagnosis may have been Ehrlichia, a common tick disease in our area, but he was not running a fever. And he was eating, although less enthusiastically than normal.

So the conclusion is what our regular vet thought during an email exchange, mild colic.  He finally  passed the manure that was hard causing pain and the twitching. We’ll watch for a few days and soak his feed just to be sure.

I hope he will be fine.


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.

riding with caleb May 2008 017


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.


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…”


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

July Ride


May 26, 2017

The local trails were closed April and most of May due to mud. We managed to get off property on weekends but had only the ring during the week on those rare days I got to the barn early enough to ride. Boring, except someone had set up and obstacle course!

Jigs was delighted. He loves balancing on the teeter totter and rocking back and forth. He seems to enjoy the obstacles.  Or, more likely they are a spot to stop and rest. I can confirm he REALLY likes the rest part.

We haven’t competed much in the last year or two. Too slow to be serious, we focused on trails.

Jigs did seem to enjoy playing with obstacles, so last weekend we hooked a ride with a friend and traveled 2 ½ hours south to an event in Connecticut.  The course was amazing, complete with a real suspension bridge. I did not expect Jigs to go over it but it was a non-event. He crossed it like a pro.

However, he balked at the teeter totter. Really? Who knows what goes through that sorrel head of his…

At the end of the day, we finished the course near perfect….knocking over the side pass pole was on me, not him.  Despite our slowness, we did well enough for fourth place.

I guess there will be a few more competitions in our Summer.




Lazy Spring Fever

March 27, 2017

What winter? Barely any snow.  Then came March: snow, cold, more snow, cold. Rinse and Repeat.

The calendar tells me it is Spring; but step outside and it is not. The trails are a mix of mud, snow, and more mud. We are staying off so they are not damaged.

Did I mention I hate ring work?

But trotting in circles it is.


At least we got to trailer to an indoor with soft footing and protection from the wind.  More trotting and maybe a few strides of canter.

Me:  “I’m not sure….”

Jigs:  “Come on, you can do it…”

Me:   “Let’s slow down and practice trotting on the outside.”

Jigs:  “Canter?”

Me:   “Not yet”

Jigs:  “Please?”

Me:  “…..okay… canter”

Jigs:  “Do I have to?”