Posted tagged ‘horseback riding’

Cow Clinic

February 11, 2018

We went to a cow sorting clinic yesterday. Given the mud, ice, rain, and snow this winter, being in a dry indoor with good footing was a treat.

Jig and I tried sorting three or four years ago. We I was not very good. He loved it and remained laser focused on the cows even when not on the ring. He seemed to enjoy the idea that they were there to do what he wanted.

jigs at cow clinic 2

Waiting for the cows

I figured the clinic would be a good way for us to see if we should do a few competitions this season. There was supposed to be a sorting contest today, but alas, there is more rain and mud in the forecast, so it was canceled- too much mud for trailers.

Our very brief foray into sorting made us the “experienced” ones.  Well, there was a retired cutter, but cutting is what he wanted to do when he saw the cows.  Cutting and sorting are quite different.

The clinician was good. She competes herself, and quickly assessed the level of partnership between each horse and rider.  Jigs and Spock, my friend’s mustang, were sized up as having good groundwork skills, although she pointed out that Jigs is lazy. Yep.

We watched as she worked with other pairs to improve their groundwork skills. That made for a long afternoon of waiting our turn. Each horse was introduced to the cows on the ground before mounting up.  It was a good approach because a few horses were overwhelmed by the a low keyed cows.

Waiting our turn

Waiting our turn

At the end of the clinic we teamed up for a trial sort run. Jigs got both his cows, but we were not good on the line. Jigs was excited and wanted to go back after another cow. I had to work to keep his attention on me, as a result, one slipped by.

Despite the boring periods of watching others, I did learn quite a bit. There will be a team sort competition in our future.


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


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.

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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….

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.


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!

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…”


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

July Ride

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.


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?”


Saddle Fit

January 19, 2017

Jigs has gotten “girthy” of late so I had the chiropractor/saddle fitter out yesterday.  A bit of adjustment to Jigs and shims, along with a new girth, and all should be well.  This saddle will work fine for both of us.

I ordered the Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief girth from Amazon. It should be here tomorrow, in time for the weekend.

He also recommended cantering more to build up Jigs’ hind end. And poles. (Jigs does drag his toes.) Poles are a game to Jigs- he has the mistaken belief that the object is to STEP on them.

Did I say I HATE ring work?

I did and the chiropractor suggested an alternative: hill work. Stopping on steep inclines will force him to use his hind quarters more. That we can do.




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.


Turkey Trot Myles Standish State Forest