Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

What I Learned

May 29, 2023

In January I signed up for a clinic with a top obstacle clinician.  More money than I have ever paid for a one day event, but I felt the opportunity was too great to pass.

There’s been a lot of turmoil in my life as my career ends in June. Throughout the anxiety and worries, the clinic was the one thing I looked forward to over what has been the worst 3 months of a long career. (A story for another time). Let’s just say mid clinic, I was in tears.

Our plan was to go to the clinic Friday and camp overnight in the parking lot for the competition the next day. This avoided two days of trailing for the horses. Mistake number one. In hindsight, we should have trailered home and returned the next day since our classes were all in the afternoon.

Lesson learned.

But the clinic itself was a disappointment. First, my friend and I ended up in the group with the assistant clinician. Second, more than half the clinic was focused on groundwork over the obstacles. I get it, groundwork is important for safety on obstacles, and many adore in hand classes. I’m just not in the latter group. I was there for help going over them mounted.

Difficulty with spatial awareness and a sequencing issue, makes it hard to process left versus right. Following verbal instructions is difficult, add the stress of a large clinic with everyone watching, I fell apart. This is not an excuse, just my reality. Normally I push though it.

In the first 10 minutes, the assistant clinician wrote me off when I couldn’t get Jigs to back up straight. She outright told me Jigs would be dangerous to handle on obstacles.

Jigs? Really?

Later she rushed me first through an exercise because she needed me to ride in front of the actual clinician so he could evaluate if I knew how to ride.

So off Jigs and I went. Our walk-trot-canter transitions were solid. The clinician commented he liked the way my horse dropped his head, and that we looked good together. He said a slightly looser rein and leaning back at tad more at the canter would help, but my seat was fine.

Jigs is NOT dangerous. We are a good team.

I did get some time with the main clinician later and he worked with us on straightness to get extra points. His assistant was annoyed he spent time with me, but for me, it was time well spent because the next day we scored pluses going on and off obstacles. 

While our scores were not as good as last year, we got third place in a large class.

What did I learn for the money I spent? Straight on, straight off for extra points and avoid large clinics with famous clinicians.  Honestly, I got more from the local clinics I attended.

As for backing up?  On the mounted raised back up obstacle, we did not lose any points- we were straight in, through, and out!

New Eyes

May 14, 2023

My cataracts are gone!

Colors are vibrant. I see white in multiple variations.  The world is clearer.

I selected pan optic lenses rather than the mono focal ones my insurance covers. Money well spent. I have not had 20/20 vision in years. The day after the second surgery I was at 20/30.  The assistant commented that the last time I saw that well was 2009! Weeks later, my vision is even better. I can drive and work on the computer all without glasses. First time since third grade!

At the follow up appointment, my regular ophthalmologist tried to improve my vision, but honestly, nothing she tried made a difference and we both agreed I did not need glasses. Just over the counter readers for close up.

Trail riding without glasses has been interesting. I need to be more aware of low hanging branches, so I don’t get a twig in my eye. Jigs is pretty good about taking me around them, but I’m more aware.

The other change is that for years I wore photochromic lenses and was used to them darkening in bright sun. Now I must put on over-the-counter sunglasses on trail rides. Small inconvenience…. Where did I put them????


March 11, 2023


Trying to get my head around it.

Excited and terrified.

I have had a job of some sort ever since I was 14. Even the summer I took off to finish my master’s thesis, I wrote a weekly column for a local ad paper.  (Remember those? It was the 80s after all). What to fill time with?

But I will be busy over the next months. I’m overwhelmed at how busy. First to arrange expenses to fit a lower income.  This means getting the house ready for sale and finding another in a less expensive community, preferably with acreage.  To do that means another go around sorting 60 years of stuff accumulated by my parents. My dad NEVER threw anything away.  There are some things I don’t love, but could not let go the first time because my mother loved them.

But the best part will be riding during the work week. I admit all the Facebook and Instagram photos of others riding weekdays make me jealous. Now I will take my own weekday photos!

Oh Jigs….. are you ready?

Go away I’m napping

Warm February

February 12, 2023

February has been warm, too warm. Last week I canceled my lesson because Saturday morning was -11 F and it was near 50 degrees the next day.  I did not want my pony to get a belly ache. He is 20 this year after all!

Yesterday was not as warm, but perfect for an 8.5-mile jaunt through Douglas State Forest.  Our route included a few scenic trails we had not ridden before.

The best part of the day: Jigs was so excited to go out with his friend Copper, he loaded himself on the trailer without me asking! I do think he enjoys these outings.

Vision vs. Resolutions

December 30, 2022

No resolutions for 2023. How can I know what my reality will be in three months, six, or eleven? What defines me today may not be relevant tomorrow.

The rational me counters, but without goals how do you get anywhere? Achieve anything? Fair point.

A local news commentator declared successful resolutions are “smart goals.” I’m left pondering if resolutions are goals?  Goals map out a journey toward a larger vision.  

Perhaps the relevant question is what is my vision for 2023 and beyond?

When I was “less old,” I used to play a game where I wrote a letter from my future self to my current self. In it, I described what I had done and was doing. It was an attempt to actualize success. At thirty-five, I thought I had time to meander along paths of distraction. So, I did. Nothing in those letters ever came true.

And now there is less time to “fulfill” a “vision.” But if each step, each moment in time, is a life lived, does it matter? My vision is to continue meandering along the paths of distraction and leave behind trails of joy.

The miracle is that there is still time.



November 6, 2022

So far, November is abnormally warm. With winter coats well started, Jigs sweats even at a light trot. He’s out mostly 24/7 and is only blanketed on extremely cold days, so I do not clip him.

Yesterday was near 70!  Sweaty day for versatility and trail race.

The race goal was to photograph 10 check points in the fastest time.  There were two bonus hands hidden on the 2-mile route that took 5 minutes off your time.

My friend and I entered as a team. We photo’d all check points but moved too fast to find the hands. Although the last check point had a spooky Chucky doll with hands, just not “THE” hands.

The route crossed around and through fields. It has been years since I have been as comfortable at the canter in an open field. It felt wonderful.

Near the end of the race, my phone tangled in my pocket zipper, and we fell behind. Jigs got ‘jiggy” when he lost sight of his friend and I decided to get off and run up the hill to catch up rather than risk an unplanned dismount. Once his buddy was in sight I got back on, and we cantered off.

Unfortunately, my three minutes of nonsense cost us first place. We finished sweaty second.

The versatility was challenging. I stepped out of my ‘comfort zone” and entered the advanced division, knowing I probably would not place. My goal was to canter and we did, all the way through a U shaped pole pattern. I could hear my instructor, in my head, “look where you are going.” It worked. We even stopped as required at the last pole for the back up. Unfortunately I steered Jigs crooked and we timed-out at the second pole set. It didn’t matter, I accomplished my goal!

Another obstacle was an hourglass pattern with 5 small jumps. I hate jumping but we went for it.  Jigs touched the first rail. It stayed up, but we lost a point for the nick. He cleared the rest.

I am proud of our third place!

My friend was champion!

The versatility was the same day as the Mountain Lane Trail Challenge year end awards. I was pleasantly surprised when I got home and learned we were Reserve Champion in Open Level 1, even though the last two challenges, we only competed in level 2!

There is one more judged pleasure ride next weekend that will be for fun only. When I look back to January and where Jigs and I are today, I feel blessed.

Last Trail Challenge of 2022

October 17, 2022

Saturday was the final Mountain Trail Challenge of 2022.  We placed second in adult and first in open level 2, receiving our highest scores ever!


What a year! Jigs advanced from Level 1 to Level 2 through lessons, clinics, and practice. I am grateful for everyone who supported us this year. Without them, we would not have met our goal – to compete successfully at level 2.

Tetter Totter

To say I am proud of my horse in an understatement.  I am blessed that we found each other. He’s a forgiving horse. My heart leaps when I hear his nicker.

Texas Two Step

Next year we start work on reaching level 3, which includes 360 degree turns on obstacles and cantering. It will be a stretch, but if we both stay healthy, we can get there with patience, time, practice, and a lot of lessons. 


Another Line off the Bucket List

September 10, 2022

Ranch horse class scratched off the bucket list. Okay, only walk trot, but the first real ring show I have been in since 4-H in my teens- almost 50 years ago!

We took 5th places in Ranch Equitation and Pattern at the Blandford Fair.  The latter because there were 5 entries. I am proud of Equitation. It was a larger class; we were not last. We ribboned despite Jigs picking up the canter twice. Not sure if the judge saw it.

Ranch Equitation – 5th Place

We were last in Halter (HATED IT) and Pleasure. Jigs does not have a slow jog and is too quick for quarter horse type classes.

There were 70 plus classes on the day. It was a long wait for 4 classes- less than 45 minutes in the ring.

Will I do another ring show? Not likely, although I did like the pattern class. At my age it is hard to remember required transitions, let alone get the red pony to slow down and extend his trot.

The ribbons were pretty. Our 360s in both directions were perfect! And I know what we must work on- speed control, halt, staying in gait.  Fixing these will improve our ability to be competitive in Mountain Trail Challenges.

We hit the trails yesterday for the first time in over a month. I had a relaxed pony and worked on trot/halt transitions. We did not canter. Still not 100% comfortable with speed on the trails- especially when I am alone, which is 100% of the time.

Our plan was cow sorting tonight, but the event was canceled. Really bummed. Jigs loves chasing cows. Trying to find things he likes so he doesn’t get sour. Next week is another Mountain Trail Challenge! He does seem to like them. Now if we can just get the 180 turn on an obstacle. That is our goal this year!

Putting in the Effort

August 20, 2022

Lesson do make a difference.

Downhill Trot

Wish I had more time to practice.

Good pony

Sure love my pony!

Adult Level 2 Trail Mountain Challenge

Mountain Trail Clinic

May 28, 2022

Jigs and I attended a mountain trail clinic last weekend at Salmon River Horse Park in upstate New York. Cathy Drumm is a wonderful clinician. We attended a few western dressage/working equitation clinics with her already where she showed me about slowing down and being softer- something I need to do beyond horses. Funny how that works.

Normally I’m impatient doing groundwork but I surprised myself by gaining new techniques that filled holes in my knowledge and will translate to riding.

Texas Two Step

Over the years Jigs and I competed in versatility where fastest time through the obstacles wins. Horsemanship was not considered which led to bad habits. We completed courses but it was not pretty. In mountain trail challenges, you are judged on horsemanship and obstacles. Time may be a factor but only a small portion of the overall scores.

Swinging Bridge

Getting Jigs over the obstacles is not an issue, it is the how we go over and the maneuver. Halt, turn, backup and straightness trip us up and deny good scores. Slowing down, keeping my hands from pulling on the turns is difficult for me which makes it hard for him. I want to do better for us both.

Water Box

It was a fun weekend full of confidence building accomplishments. It is the first time we cantered in the water! We didn’t look pretty but we did it!  At the end of the clinic, there was a mock challenge with a judge who gave us scores and feedback. The first thing she told me was I was biting my lip coming into the course. I should relax and smile. Really good advice. Another was hip before hands! Brain knows but the body is still learning. We came away with new tools and a lot to work on!