Posted tagged ‘horse training’

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.

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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!

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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…”

Oops.

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

July Ride

Obstacles

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.

Ugg.

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?”

SIGH…..

Happy New Year

January 1, 2017

January 1, 2017. New Year’s Day.

2017 is a precipice that I can’t see across or below.

Distracted and without focus I stumbled through the ravine of 2016 with Jigs at my side. Together, we got through, despite my obsessions, despite my fears.

Worried about saddle fit we acquired our 6th in as many years. The last two saddles were too big for us both. This time I went with the western tree with English rigging. It’s much easier to girth up and puts even pressure on both sides. I think this one will work once I figure out the shims.

And because I’m impatient, I purchased the one in stock- the one with a blue suede seat and bling. So not me. But in November I threw caution to the wind and purchased a matching blue headstall. Jigs looks handsome in it. Add an orange pad and reins for hunting season and we are a color rush team. Getting outside of my comfort zone was healthy.

Jigs is 14 this year. We are entering our 8th year together. A long-term relationship takes commitment. We have our disagreements, but always have each other’s back. This fall was especially hard. Commitments kept me from the barn too many nights and some weekends. It is one of the reasons at this point in my life I must board.

Horses don’t care if they are ridden.  They are content if there is food, water, and good pasture. Do they notice when their humans are not around? Based on my own observations, I believe they do. When I’m away for an extended period, I hear barn tales of “naughty” Jigs. A few weeks ago, when I was unable to get to the barn for several days, Jigs let himself out of his stall and helped himself to a bale of hay. He tried to sneak back into his stall when the barn manager arrived. He knew.

And he knows the sound of my car. I often find him waiting for me at the gate while the other horses graze in the back of the field.  He will leave his herd and run to me when I call. And then there are those days when he is sleeping in the field and doesn’t get up when I go to collect him. It is comforting to think I am not considered a threat. I usually sit by and wait for his nap to be over. Why rush when the pasture is full of sun?

So, yes, it is mutual relationship, with give and take. Whatever is over the precipice, I cannot see now, but I am optimistic and full of hope for what is there.

jigs-getting-a-drink

Turkey Trot Myles Standish State Forest

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

Long Winter’s Night

December 24, 2015

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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.