Posted tagged ‘horse ownership’

Partners

April 18, 2020

Horses saved my life twice, once when I was a rebellious teen and again in middle age. I don’t speak much about the recurring depression that rises out of my insecurities, of my anxiety. The presence of my horse lifts this shadow. My eyes dilate when I gaze on him and I see the world as a more perfect place.  My breath slows to match his. My heart beats with his. Together, we remain in a moment where the past is gone and the future, immaterial.

00000PORTRAIT_00000_BURST20200229142728447

 

The human/equine symbiotic relationship is hard for non-horse lovers to understand. Some humans are born to bond with these magnificent beings. Our souls long for their presence. On their backs, we fly. We walk more confident beside them.

I am grateful for the grace my horse shares with me in these strange times. Perhaps, I am saved again.

Leap Day or Smartest Pony in the World

February 29, 2020

An extra day.  February has always been fickle.  Too windy for me to ride due to memories of a fall from Pepper that ended in a broken ankle, I decided it best to keep my feet on the ground.

Jigs I and took a walk through the woods. We do that occasionally. He seems to enjoy it and I believe it is good for relationship building.

We walked down to the old “pine grove” where we used to ride when boarding at the other barn. The local land trust recently purchased the property, but not before loggers made a mess of the trails. We had to bushwhack through their debris.

I encountered burdock. Placing my mittens on ground, I struggled to remove the annoying stickies from my leggings. Somehow Jigs had avoided them. I let out an exasperated breath.  Jigs lowered his head, grabbed one of my mittens and handed it to me.

Oh, of course, he was expecting a treat. His nose was already at my pocket.

“What about that one?” I asked Jigs pointing to the remaining mitten. He picked up and handed it to me.  Another treat.

I have been working for years on teaching Jigs to ‘fetch’ hats and gloves with the hope that one day, it could be a useful trick if I dropped something from his back.  

In all that time, he has never handed me something without being asked. Today, he just did it- no cue. It was like he anticipated I was going to get the mittens and decided to help out.

“Smart pony,” I said scratching behind his ear. “Maybe you can lead yourself sometime like Olive.”

Olive is the lab who lives with me. When I put her on the leash, she will pick up the end and lead herself to the door.

I was only kidding when I said that to Jigs.

Pleased with my pony’s intelligence, we came out of the woods and walked up the road. It had gotten warmer. I stopped to take off my mittens, inadvertently dropping the lead rope.

Jigs looked at it and then at me. Slowly, he dropped his head, picked up the lead rope and handed it to me.

His look was clear, “where is my cookie?”

#besthorseintheworld  #smartesthorseintheworld

Smartest Pony in the World

Second Place

September 27, 2019

I think the best feature of my phone is the ability to put Jig’s photo on the home page. I glance at it throughout the day and smile. It doesn’t get changed often, but a few weeks ago I uploaded a photo of him with his second place ribbon at the Marshfield Fair.

I know second place is not winning, but it is the best placing we have ever had at Marshfield. Two of our three runs where clean and the last one was fluid. It felt right. I met my goal of cantering between obstacles and stopping correctly. Although the course was simple and there were not as many participants as past years, I accepted the placing proudly.

marshfield 2019

Second Place Marshfield Fair 2019

My riding and confidence has improved thanks to lessons. After a few weeks of decent practices and solid lessons, I felt ready to compete in the skilled division at last week’s versatility.

I was wrong.

The courses had jumps that the skilled division was required to canter over. Jumping is one of my fears. When I first got Jigs, I told him, “no jumping.” He seems okay with that arrangement.

Frankly, the jumps on the course were low enough for us to pop over at a trot. We’ve never cantered over one before. Our jumping to that point has been limited to trotting over logs on the trail or a small cavaletti or two in the ring.

My first instinct was to drop down a division, but that didn’t feel right. The year before we won at the lower level. It felt like cheating. And it was likely too late.

I decided to try.

The thing about me is my brain gets in the way of my body. We did the first obstacle, a garrocha pole, fine. After putting the pole back, I hesitantly asked for a canter. Jigs sensed my ambivalence and launched into an awkward pop over the jump. He landed at the canter and overshot the next obstacle, a side pass. We knocked the first and all the subsequent poles loose.

It got worse as the course went on. At some point, I managed to get my hands tangled in the reins.

While I didn’t get us DQ’d, the judge didn’t award many points.

I deleted the video my friend made from the sideline before looking at it.

Resting After Our Loss

Resting After Our Loss

I rode a little better in the next class, but not enough to beat anyone in my division. I was hesitant and did not receive points for jumping the balance beam because I did it at the trot, not the canter.

I sulked for a couple days, feebly riding in the ring not accomplishing anything.

You know how thoughts goes round and round like a marble dropped in a bowl? Noisy, and wobbly?

If I wanted to jump, wouldn’t I be at a different show? Why did the judged class have two jumps? One of the reasons I like local versatility is the lack of jumps.

What right did I have trying to compete at my age, at my riding skill level? Why bother?

The Marshfield buzz was gone.

I signed up for a trail ride. That was something we could do. Maybe it is all Jigs and I should do. Maybe we should skip the next competitions. After all we are both getting older.

Wednesday was lesson night. I had no intention of telling my instructor what happened, but she found out anyway.

Immediately she set up a cross rail for us. It was about the same height of the first jump on the course. We trotted over it hesitantly. Again, again, and again. She had me stop after each jump.

And then she commanded, “canter. I asked Jigs weakly. Nope. He trotted faster.

“Again” she said. This time he cantered over the cross rails without actually jumping, his back hooves hitting them.

“Again.”

This went on for a bit and then it happened, Jigs jumped and stopped.

“See, you can do it,” my instructor said.

It was the right place to end the lesson.

While I’m looking forward to the trail ride this weekend, I’m also looking forward to the competitions the following weekend. I know we won’t win our classes, but with patience and a calm mind, we just might do okay. That red ribbon on my phone’s home page is a good reminder of what we can do.

2019 Prospective

December 30, 2018

End of December is the time for retrospectives of the year. A lot of the bloggers I follow have posted theirs already. One stated that blogs are old school and announced she is moving to other venues, pod casts, on line classrooms, for a fee. The free blog will remain, but I wonder for how long. Everyone must make a living. I get that.

Rather than looking back, I am looking toward 2019. Disclaimer-despite my fondness for Tarot, I am not clairvoyant. Expectations may or may not be realized. There will be hardships. There will be moments of joy. My hope is joy will out weight hardships.

And what are my expectations?

I expect to laugh and cry with those I love. I expect to continue preparing for retirement. I expect to ride Jigs down new trails. I expect to attend horse events, lessons, cow sorting, versatility, maybe a show if I get brave. I expect to win a few ribbons. Maybe.

Missing are my wished-for things: economic stability, a truck, Jigs at home with me, a finished book of poetry, 40 years in the making.

20181230_093537

On January first, I will take down the ribbons Jigs won in 2018 and put away the memories of our successes, near successes, and yes, failures.

The space above his stall will be empty- a proverbial blank slate- a space for realized possibilities that will become 2019.

Happy New Year’s!

 

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.

20180930_153618

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!

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

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.

24831354_1675553325835180_3288200004806443111_o (1)

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….

Bikes and Horses

July 5, 2016

My non-horse friends think I am a pony obsessed lunatic. They could be right. I am rather fond of my pony. He is wonderful. I could not ask for a better partner- equine or human.

Today we loaded up my grandson’s bike into my Jeep, Jigs in the trailer and headed over to Upton State Forest to ride/bike. Upton State has a mix of trails but I figured if we stayed on the gravel roads, my grandson would be able to ride comfortably.

Before we left, I told Jigs, “your job is to keep the boy in front of you.”  He took that literally. It was fine downhill when we had to trot to keep up.  It wasn’t so bad on the flats, well, except for when my grandson did serpentines. Jigs followed right behind him, doing his own serpentines. This horse hates serpentines.

boy and bike

The issue was uphill. What goes down must go up and for bikes, not so easy.  Jigs really wanted to stay behind him.

I did not.

I wanted to lope up the trail.

It took a lot of leg. When Jigs got beside the bike, he broke into a trot again and tried to swing behind the bike. More leg to push him straight. More leg to lope.

We stopped at the top to wait for the boy. The whole time Jigs was watching for him. When the bike came around the bend, Jigs sighed deeply.

boy and bike 5

Riding in March

March 20, 2016

Ah, Spring. Even with the abnormally mild winter, the joy of Spring is real.  Of course there is snow predicted for tomorrow, but March snow doesn’t last and only serves to underscore the delight of sun and warmth.

Saturday was the first off property ride of the year! More to come, I hope. We rode with 10 friends, the largest group we have ever gone out with! The horses were all excited but remained in control. Jigs even wanted to go and we got the BIG trot going.

Jigs and ap 3-19-16

Douglas State Forest March Ride

Yes, my calves are sore, but out again we went today, this time alone. I chattered to Jigs the whole way. One of his ears flipped back to catch my words.  We were two old friends catching up.

20160320_133141

Old friends

The warmth and  light have returned!

Long Winter’s Night

December 24, 2015

IMG_1648

The days are getting longer. It will be a month before we really notice, but I have faith this is true. It has been too dark these past weeks. The sun has gone missing.

I rarely get to the barn these days. Even the weekends have been consumed with commitments outside of my control. And when I do get there, riding is been limited as my foot continues to heal. Or maybe I’m avoiding something.

I worry about Jigs and what this funk I’m in means for our relationship. If I’m honest with myself, it is like a temporary separation. I feel guilty I’ve been so preoccupied with non-horse issues.

When I do visit, he seems glad to see me, but truly, it is the treats in the back of my car he desires.  A gelding of few words, he’s never been overly affectionate.  He’s impatient with grooming, not naughty, but I get the feeling he just tolerates it. In the 7 years we’ve been together, I’ve never found his “sweet spot.”

Most horses have one- even Pepper. His lips would quiver in ecstasy when I scratched the side of his withers. This from the horse that hated all things human. It was the only time I felt he liked me.

But Jigs tries to be above all this. Unless food is involved, it is all the same to him. Or maybe not. The other day we were in the ring playing at ground work and unbeknownst to me, my glove fell out of my pocket. The gelding of few words didn’t miss it. He picked it up and gave it to me. I was stunned.

He really is a good boy. I just need to press through this dark and be patient for the sun to return.

 

Autumn Hiatus

October 28, 2015

The last two months have been frustrating. After our last versatility in August, Jigs came up lame.

Marshfield

First an abscess,

Heel

then a case of white line.

September and October- the best time to ride in New England, and we missed most of it.

Arrggghhh….

Naturally I went through the usual paranoia and obsession. Convinced I had permanently broken Jigs, I drove my vet crazy.

Then, thankfully, he was sound again mid October.

Sunday we got to play dress up and attended our first off property ride in months.

Great Pumpkin Ride 2015

It was a great day, with great friends.

I was psyched! Next up, the Turkey Trot…. love riding around cranberry bogs…..

Sunday was perfect- a costume ride and home in time for the Patriots’ game.  I even had time to finish laundry…

Yep, laundry.

Housework gets you every time.

My ankle rolled as I was carrying an EMPTY clothes basket down the cellar stairs and I fell.

Broken Foot

Broken foot and another 6 week hiatus…….  Jigs probably thinks he hit the lottery…..