Posted tagged ‘horse racing’

Cuteness Revisited

December 8, 2019

Quite a few of the folks who meet Jigs tells me he is “cute.” I guess it is his size and his quiet, confident demeanor that get him that label.

He would be insulted if he knew what cute meant (assuming he doesn’t).

Jigs’ smaller stature does not stop him from bossing around his herd mates, even though he is the smallest in the pasture.

Louie the ex-racehorse is the exception. Jigs steers clear and always defers to him. Louie is a goofy love bug. He’s also the tallest horse at the barn. His tongue hangs out to the side in the way of ex-racehorses. I suspect Louis prefers humans to other horses. Jigs avoids him for the most part, although I have seen them graze together.

As for the rest of the herd, Jigs reorders them around the round bale, pushes them off the water trough, enforces the order of who goes when- Louis is first, then Jigs. It is the way of the universe.

For example, yesterday Jigs had a session with the chiropractor. Sore around lower thoracic and upper lumbar, he was not comfortable with the work being done on him. At one point, he grabbed my thumb. Biting is something he never does. He let go as soon as he realized he had my thumb, but it was an indication of how sore he was. As the session went on, he relaxed, and I could see improvement.

When I turned Jigs back out to the herd, Baron was standing at the fence. Jigs pinned his ears and drove him away, giving a joyful kick in Baron’s direction.  Jigs was letting his buddy know he was back and to listen up.

So, when someone tells me Jigs is a cute horse, I smile to myself.  Cute is not the word I would use for him, but who am I to correct them?

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.


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.

Summer Blahs

August 15, 2019

Summer is burning to a slow end. It is mid-August.

Jigs and I have not done much other than lessons. It’s been a season of canceled events, the most recent due to the heat and humidity July threw at us. Too hot to move. Not safe for the horses.

Lessons have continued. Slight progress has been made, but it seems the more I learn, the more I am aware of my shortcomings. I’m not an athlete. I mix up left and right. My cues are awkward. I am not quiet and talk to much to Jigs with hands, legs, and voice. A hot mess.  I’ve given up on ever showing or competing seriously in versatility.

On the plus side, Jigs looks fantastic. He is lean and muscled as never before. Consistency is good for him. This summer I commissioned a painting of him that now hangs in my living room.

jig painting

I am looking forward to fall and the cooler weather when we can trailer out to a few organized rides. Perhaps then my usual optimism will return.

Snow Globe

February 25, 2015










The world spins;

snow falls.

Lungs flush,

steam puff,

odorless, dry.

No birds sing,

shake wings

in the low sky.

A distant plow

beeps back

red glow.

The world spins,

snow falls:


Snow Bowl

February 10, 2015

Yes, I did watch the Super Bowl and loved the outcome. Dad was probably doing backflips in heaven. Deflated balls seem silly now.

The past week has been full of snow and cold- the trail head is plowed in.  Riding has been limited to a few bareback circles in the snow filled ring.

jigs versatility in snow 2015

Snow Ring

Below is the 5’ fence in my Mom’s back yard.  I don’t ever remember that much snow- even in the Blizzard of ’78!

Snow of 2015

More snow is one the way.

But like all things in this mortal life, the snow won’t last forever.  Spring is coming….


June 18, 2014

Persistence  sometimes pays off. Jigs and I spent the last two months practicing the rope gate and the pedestal in preparation for the NEECA Versatility.  The result was we now do both well.

We nailed the gate Saturday!  One of the judges noticed a hesitation.  She was right, we did hesitate, but we did it and our scores were as high as they could be with me riding two handed!

No pedestal, bummer.  We were so ready.

Our performance was good enough to win the Novice Division!  Whoo Hooo!

NEECA Versatility 6-14-14

NEECA Versatility 6-14-14

I am really proud of my little red pony!

Judges’ feedback was my scores would have been higher if I neck reined and rode one handed.

This was the first competition where my horsemanship skills were judged. I faired a bit better than I expected.  Yes, we did miss the obstacle with the lead changes.  We got one lead, not the other.  My fault, not Jigs.’ I didn’t pick up the canter quickly enough because I was not committed to cantering at all. I’m just excited that we did canter!

I have two videos of the performance and I can see where we need to work. That’s what I like about Versatility, there is always something new to work on.

So I’m at a crossroad. Should Jigs and I work on neck reining? I’m worried I’ll have to move from my snaffle to a shank bit. Not sure I want to do that. One trainer referred to it as moving to a grown up western bit. Will that change our relationship? Will it be too much pressure on us both?

He clearly enjoys these events. So do I. But do I want to do the really (especially for this old woman) hard stuff to get to another level?

Last night Jigs and I rode down to the water so he could play. He enjoys hacking the trails too.

Maybe, just maybe, we can do both.

A Tale of Two Weekends

January 19, 2014

Versatility back to back weekends were, pardon the cliché, a tale of two cities- one covered with mud; the other with snow.

Last weekend I pulled my trailer with my new car for the first time. Lights worked great. The backup camera made hook up quick and easy. BUT the yard was soggy from hard rain the night before and the trailer’s front break locked.  I literally dragged the empty trailer though the mud and down the street until it released by backing up in a parking lot.

The yard is still scraped and rutted from the fiasco- quite the mess. Both trailer and new car (less than 1300 miles on it) were mud caked.  (Trailer still is.)  When the weather clears I have a lot of work to do….

But I did make it to the barn to get Jigs. The new car pulled like a dream.

There were a lot of excellent riders at last weekend’s event. The course was challenging, but it was possible to get though it quickly. Jigs and I got a descent time, 100% 1:50 seconds, but not good enough against riders and horses that compete regularly at speed events and national level shows. We are just back yard buddies fooling around having fun.

Today Carolyn, Helen, and I traveled to New Hampshire for another Versatility. Rather than rain the day before, this time it was snow.  Carolyn drove. (Thank you, can’t say that enough.) The roads in Massachusetts were clear but once we got to the New Hampshire line, not so much.  And it was lightly snowing.

GPSs are great tools but sometimes they send you to odd places. And there are a lot of odd, almost roads in New Hampshire.  We ended up down the wrong end of the road where the event was but it was not passable due to deep ruts and washout.  I must say Carolyn is the world’s greatest backer upper! Kudos.

We finally reached the barn manager for directions and thought we were all set.  Not quite… There was still an unsanded, unplowed hill between us and the venue.  The barn staff was waiting for us at the bottom of the street. They already had called the sand truck and wanted us to wait until it had passed.

We gladly obliged. Once sanded, the hill was a non-event.

What a nice bunch of folks! The staff and owners were gracious and welcoming. The indoor was small and the course well laid out.  I don’t think it would have been possible to yahoo through it and do well.  Times were slower than last weekend but Carolyn and Angel got 1st place, Jigs and me 2nd, and Helen and Violet 6th!  A big day for the girls at Bearfoot.

I like doing the obstacles, but I’ve come to realize I will never be a competitor in speed events. I am not strong or brave enough to win. I do want to become more confident and a better rider but I have no desire to go  too FAST.

This year I want to participate in more judged rides, the ones that are not races. This means learning to be technically correct.  Speed may break a tie, but if you do the obstacle correctly, your score will reflect it.

Here’s this year’s to do list for me (and yes, Jigs, for you too)

1)      Make sure Jigs has a saddle that fits him correctly (Still a problem I’m afraid, even with saddle #5)

3)      Side pass to the left

4)      Open and close a gate correctly

5)      Improve our lope

6)      Finish teaching Jigs to hand me things that I drop

If we do these things, we will accomplish a lot.

Jan 14 Versatility Mason NH Angel 1st Place Jigs 2nd Place

Jan 14 Versatility Mason NH
Angel 1st Place
Jigs 2nd Place

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

Muddy Saturday

December 10, 2011

You know it is way too muddy when your clean boots leave tracks across the floor.

It’s quite strange to be in your 5o’s and have your mother scold you for this.

I’m no longer allowed to come in the house with boots on.

Can’t say that I blame her.

(This was after rinsing them off)

Jigs’ left hind is slightly swollen from his pastern to just below his hock. It is barely noticeable and he’s not lame. He acts the same as always.

I thought it looked funny last night but with all the mud and dark, it was hard to tell. The morning light made it more noticeable.

I’ve been hosing it with cold water. He got some bute and a homeopathic remedy. It’s not serious enough to call the vet, though I was tempted. Past experience tells me she would tell me to do what I am already doing, minus the homeopathic piece. If it gets worse tomorrow, I will call her.

We walked the trail loop this afternoon and it seem to lessen the swelling. He’s moving fine.

Tomorrow’s plan was to trailer over to Douglas State Forest to ride the trunk trail. We were hoping it would be drier. I’ll wait and see how he is in the morning….

The cow clinic is next weekend. I’m really hoping we won’t miss it. It’s what we’ve been working toward since June……