Posted tagged ‘appaloosa’

Last Day of Vacation

August 16, 2013

Another vacation week spent. Didn’t do anything I intended to do except ride the sorrel pony.

I’m stuck at the moment. I can’t get leg yields or side passes to the left.  My right hip aches from the tries.  As a result, we can’t open and close the gate well. It brings our scores down on judged rides.

This week I added little English spurs to the mix. It helps, but not enough. Both Jigs and I were frustrated with one another after 20 minutes of tries.

I left the barn to get lunch and on the way decided to picnic in the field with the sorrel and his pasture mate.

Sandwich and drink in hand I trudged out to the field. It was a beautiful day- more September than August. There was a large flat rock the right size for a picnic. It was perfect.

Both horses were curious. What was the human doing now?  They stood respectfully (well, respectfully after being shooed off a few times) watching me eat. A light breeze kept the sun from being too warm and the flies from bothering the horses.

I started to relax.  My last day of vacation- what a wonderful moment. Next week it is back to the everyday work stress, but not yet.

Jigs walked me back to the gate.  So, we can’t open it and close it smoothly?  It will happen eventually.  Jigs is my best friend. Who better to spend the last day of vacation with?

The boys in the front field.

The boys in the front field.

Did I break my Horse?

August 3, 2013

So Jigs is “off” at the trot but it’s just barely perceptible on level ground. He is noticeably lame at the trot under saddle.  Panic starts.

I talked to our Vet and she thought if he was okay on the flat lunging but off under saddle, it might be the saddle hurting him.  THIS IS A NEW SADDLE- our 5th!  He’s been wonderfully fluid in it.  Panic grows stronger.

So I hop on bareback- just as off.

She was dealing with a colic and will call me to make an appointment to see him next week.  This is not life threatening after all…

Now I’m thinking did my fat butt break Jigs? I am not the petite person I once was. Poor Jigs. He’s really not very big.

Then, I noticed a he is bleeding at the coronary band and has a bruise on his hoof.   It wasn’t there before I rode him.



Brewing abscess?  But not on the side he is “off.”

Last year I remember the same thing. I was treating the right side but he blew the abscess on the left……  ARRGGHHHHHHHH


January 16, 2013

As Zach and I got out of the car we heard a huge whinny.  “What’s that?” he asked.  One of the other borders coming out of the barn answered laughing, “Guess he’s excited you’re here.”

Jigs? It wasn’t a welcome whinny and Jigs is not normally vocal.  Was that Jigs?

He was in his stall pacing even though he had hay. He screamed again.

“What’s up with Jigs,” I asked eying him for other signs of distress.

“He had an interesting day.”


“He got turned out with a few of the mares.”

Oh-Oh, I thought, remembering a camping incident and some ‘horse foreplay’ at 5 AM that involved me yelling, “Jigs get down,” and waking half the camp ground.

“On purpose?” I asked.

“Thought we could change up the herd but Jigs decided they were his mares wouldn’t let anyone else near them.”

That happened the last time he was in a mixed herd.

By now Jigs was on the cross-ties and, pardon the pun, jigging in place. He screamed again.

“Cut it out Jigs,” I said pulling the cinch tighter. He snorted and swished his tail.

“Zach, want to ride?” I asked looking at him sidewards.

“Ahhh, no,” he said stepping away quickly. “I’ll just watch you tonight.”

Jig whinnied again. No response from the mares.

Jigs in Stall


November 8, 2012

Something wonderful happened last Sunday.  It is four days later and I am still in shock. It hasn’t sunk in yet.

Jigs and I were HIGH POINT CHAMPION of the North Brookfield Sportsmans Club Eastern Regional Trail ride.  WE WON A NEW SADDLE.

And I didn’t even want to go. (Big thanks to the gals of Bear Foot for convincing me.)

Jigs was perfect. He accepted every obstacle gracefully.  He was a joy to ride.

I am so proud of him.


October 14, 2012

Last night was the final auction at Crowley’s Auction in central Mass.  Crowley’s has been in business for decades.  A lot of good ranch horses came through their auctions over the years.

Jigs came through Crowley’s when he was three.

I hadn’t been to a horse auction since the 70’s when I went a few times with the 4H Club. That was a small auction tucked next to a drive in. It is long closed. I remember the cheap tack and sorry looking horses.  A Club member purchased a horse from there. He was beautiful but had a tendency to buck at the canter.

I picked up an older Aussie Stock Co. saddle for 85 bucks last night. It’s in okay shape and I’m hoping it fits Jigs. If not, I’ll flip it. I once owned a newer model but it didn’t fit Jigs so I sold it for $900. This is a lower end model but at least worth a few hundred.

The end of Crowley’s Auctions is not surprising. The economy is poor. Horses are luxury items. Keeping them is expensive. Boston to Springfield is one giant development. Farms are rare and taxes on land are high.

The town where I grew up has very little open space. There are walking trails for suburbanites and their dogs, but I doubt horses would be welcome. Lots of parks and forests are limiting or banning horses outright.

When I was a kid every day the sound of shod horses would call me to the bay window. I would jealously marvel at the horses plodding by. When I finally had my own horse, I proudly became one of those riding down the street to hook up with friends on the trails. We would disappear for the day coming back only to avoid the dark.

Earlier this summer I thought I might trailer Jigs to my parents’ house to see if I could find any of the old trails, but in truth, they are now all McMansions. There’s no place left to ride, so I never got around to it. Gas prices are too high for trailer joy rides.

Apparently Crowley’s will remain open for private sales, but they are selling a lot of their equipment. I wonder how long it will be before they close?

Horses were run through the way I remembered from my youth- jockeys driving them forward with loud slaps, spins and stops. I think the most expensive horse sold for $2800. It was a really well broke sorrel that looked like he’d been chasing cows most of his life.  I saw two nice broke QH go for $1500.  Probably more horses than I could safely ride but really nice.

I won’t speak to the ethics of auctions. They have always been part of the horse industry and have their place. In recent years, Crowleys was one of the better ones.

Jigs came through this auction. I am thankful he did.

Wah Wah More Human Emotion

September 17, 2012

Humans have an unwavering propensity toward anthropomorphizing. We have an innate need to see ourselves reflected in the world around us. Maybe it is hubris.

Or is it anti-empathy? We expect outside of us to be a reflection of the inside of us.

Saturday I lost my connection with Jigs.

He didn’t trust me enough to cross the sprinkler obstacle. Not only did he refuse; he gave me ATTITUDE

My feelings were hurt. I thought he TRUSTED me. But nope, he was having none of the water obstacle.

Jigs had no intention to hurt my feelings (just typing this makes me feel like a whinny six year old). He’s a horse. He was only reacting to something scary. Sprinklers aimed at ankles are not natural in the environment.

But, other horses did it willingly.

We  worked on it after the show was over. He did cross it, but not willingly. Not once willingly.

I left the barn edgy and uncomfortable.

I couldn’t shake the feeling. It was a game, supposed to be fun. I wasn’t having fun.

Early evening I went back to the barn to check on him.  The geldings were in the back field so I walked out to see them.

Jigs saw me, lifted his head, whinnied, and trotted to me. I had the halter with me but didn’t put it on. He walked beside me to the gate.

This is not typical Jigs behavior. Jigs does not whinny at me. He does not trot to me or follow me across the pasture without a lead rope. He is ABOVE these behaviors.

Yesterday I told the barn manager about it. She commented that he “seemed like he was sulking” at feeding time and “he just wasn’t himself.”

Sulking is a human emotion. He couldn’t have been sulking, could he? Only humans sulk.

To quote Jigs, “Big sigh.”

Fear = What if?

September 13, 2012

Jigs and I have been working on cantering.

My fear started years ago- in my thirties when, Mary, a crazy 17 hand appy-thoroughbred cross dumped me at the canter. And dump me she did.  I did a double summersault flip in the air before landing on my hip. It was not broken but badly bruised. 20 plus years later, my hip still aches when it is humid or if I don’t exercise.

Before that, I really didn’t fear falling. Yes, I fell. Fell from Princess. Fell from Freedom. But I was never a daredevil; it just seemed like part of the riding thing.  You ride; you will eventually fall.  Part of the deal.

It took me months to get the courage to canter Pepper. He had so many other problems, I didn’t worry about it. I figured it would happen. Then he spooked, bolted and bucked.  Off I went and my ankle broke.

I didn’t canter for months after that, but we eventually figured it out. My last (and best) riding memory of Pepper is cantering down snow covered rail road tracks. I can still smell the crisp snow and feel the cold on my cheeks. He was gone a week later.

Jigs was different. About six months into our relationship we were cantering on the trail and he spooked. I slid down his side in slow motion. I remember him looking at me as if to say, why are you on the ground?  The folks behind me thought it was hysterical. It was, and I was, fine.

But it was months before Jigs would canter with me. Even though I asked.

It was as if he knew I wasn’t ready. I probably wasn’t.

We got though it, but my cuing was bad. He’d canter, not canter, when I asked.  But then, was I really asking? Signals mixed with fear are not proper cues.

And if I held the reins too tight, Jigs wasn’t above a crow hop to let me know. Still isn’t.

I needed lessons “improve my seat”- to get through my fear.

Last year we learned to canter small circles in an indoor area. But I still had to run him into it. And it was too fast. No control.

This year we have learned to canter from a walk. It’s been fun. My confidence got better. Our canter improved. He’s starting to slow down.

Then tonight someone moved a barrel behind us, he spooked and bucked. I didn’t go off; I didn’t panic. (Although there was air between my butt and the seat.)  I made sure we cantered afterward. He was tired when we finished, head low, but clearly tuned into me.

But now the doubt has returned.

What if I am too old to do this right?

What if his saddle is pinching him? And it wasn’t the noise that spooked him?

What if it happens again?  What if?

The old fear has surfaced.

Breathe deeply.

We can start again tomorrow.

April Fools

April 1, 2012

Jigs decided to play possum 3/4 through his after ride roll today…..

Quite the Joker.

Sweet Spot

January 1, 2012

2012 started with Jigs recovering from an abscess. He got better for a few days, and then today was off again. So we are continuing the soak, diaper, duct tape ritual. I actually found some black duct tape with red and yellow flames-looks kind of cool in a 9 year old sort of way.  Jigs could care less, but I think he looks stylish!

Today was, unusually warm (hit 50 at one point) and the sun was bright. Since we couldn’t hit the trails together, I hand walked Jigs down the street, hoping the pavement would speed along his recovery.

He seemed to enjoy our meandering, staying respectfully behind me and stopping when I stopped. Not that I would expect anything less. It’s just that he is so easy going. I know not all horses are and I appreciate him.

The one thing that perplexes me is where Jigs’ sweet spot is. You know that one spot where horses love to be rubbed /scratched? It puts them into ecstasy.

Even Pepper had one. If you scratched his withers he would stretch his neck, tilt his head into a nod and curl his lips. He entered a different zone.

It was the only time Pepper acted like he liked me.

Jigs does not seem to have a spot like that.

Oh sure, he enjoys an occasional a scratch behind his ear. After a sweaty ride, he lets me rub on the side of his nose because it itches- if I don’t do it, he’ll rub it on the fence himself- but there is no place that sends him to ecstasy.

I got to thinking about it as we walked.

Strange.  He’s such a gregarious creature.

Jigs’ personality is as bright as his coat in the summer sun.  He enjoys playing jokes on the humans at the barn. What fun to walk through the aisle and pull various halters and lead ropes off the stall doors then watch the humans pick them up? Is that Apple someone’s lunch? Not anymore.

He is easy with the babies and toddlers, always careful not to be overbearing.

He loves to play tag  and is gentle with the kids.

His heart is large and generous, funny and trusting.

Maybe that is it!

His sweet spot!

It’s his heart!

NOT Cute

June 1, 2011

Jigs is cute. Everyone comments on it. Yesterday one of the other boarder’s vet  said to me, “he’s really cute you know.”

Jigs glared at her.

I heard him clearly, “I am most certainly not cute.”

In his mind the “vampire pony” (Alyssa’s moniker for Buddy) is cute.  It’s why he gets away with the run and nip strategy employed with the bigger horses.

I suspect he thinks little Aiden, my 10 month old grandson, is cute too. That’s why he let him poke his nostril the other day.

Jigs thinks of himself as “the super-cool-dude everyone wants to be.” Remember those kids in high school?

If Jigs were a poet (and he may well be), he’d be sporting a black beret and drinking espresso.

Jigs does NOT engage in fisticuffs. He doesn’t need to. His presence is enough. I’ve seen him turn his back on bullies and walk away, the rest of the herd following.

Unfortunately, most humans don’t see that.  They see this cute, well-put-together, sorrel with the split ear. Where ever we go, someone invariably says, “He’s really cute.”

I’ve given up correcting them.

But then again, yesterday he did bring Winter’s fly mask back to the barn and handed it to Alyssa. How cute is that?

Of course he was probably the one who took it off Winter in the first place…..