Posted tagged ‘learning to ride’

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

Advertisements

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!

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….

Of Horses, Competition, and Deflate-Gate

January 24, 2015

This year I have made the decision not to “compete” with Jigs and focus on having fun.  I expect if all goes to plan, there will be lots of trails and general fun messing around.

2010 Dec 31_Winter Fun Dec 2010_0259

It’s easy to get sucked into competition, even at the backyard level where Jigs and I live.  I woke up this morning thinking about it because, of all things, the New England Patriots.

First, I need to explain that I love football and the Patriots have been my favorite team since I can remember. I didn’t have a choice.  Dad was an avid fan even before they were in the NFL.  He took a great deal of grief from his brother-in-laws for it.  In those days the Patriots were the bottom of pro sports.

Then came 2001.  Dad and I had great fights about Brady versus Bledsoe. I was still innocent enough to be excited about the romance of a young man from nowhere beating out the star veteran for the starting spot. He said Brady was a “one hit wonder.”

I had a few years to rub in how wrong he was.  Then he got sick. In the last few years of his life, Dad wasn’t interest in football, the Patriots or much else.

Mom and I still watch NFL games every Sunday during the season.  For me, it’s a way to stay close to the father I miss so much.  A Patriot flag flies over his grave.

Back in March I was convinced this was the year the Patriots would get to the Super Bowl again.  Brady is getting older and frankly, the game is changing.  His style of play is a bit outdated. Mom and I still feel the sting of two losses to the Giants. This may be our last chance to see the Patriots and Brady win another one.

My belief in them was strong, even when they were beaten badly by Kansas City.  Mom will refute this, but only because I expressed my fears to her and kept my sureness they would figure it out secret so not to jinx them.  Isn’t funny how fans think they can change the outcome?

I went to bed last Sunday night elated my confidence in them was justified.  I was planning a Super Bowl party for my grandsons, two of whom, play football themselves. They were going to see history being made and perhaps the best Quarterback of all time play in his sixth Super Bowl. Then the next morning I heard the report of deflated balls on the local sport station.

It made no sense to me.  The Colts were no threat to them.  Why would they cheat? Yes, there was Spy-gate, but it is common knowledge all the teams do that. One of the teams this year is being investigated for using camera phones on the sidelines.

And there was Brady. He has always projected the clean cut, boy next store aura.  He wouldn’t cheat in football or on Gisele. It felt wrong.

10548316_10153051469702372_3422866046180423683_o

But as the week progressed, my faith waned with every new report.

It still makes no sense.  He played better in the second half when the balls were properly inflated.

Did he do it?

I doubt we’ll ever really know what happened.

I don’t even want to watch the Super Bowl now.

There is cheating in all sports.  Lance Armstrong. Steroids in Major League Baseball. Soring of Tennessee Walkers. Suspended race horse trainers. Hyper flexion and rollkur in Dressage. Even an endurance rider who switched horses in a race.

Everyone tries to find the edge. Some go over it to win at all cost.

There is a line between doing things to be better, like getting a good trainer, better equipment, practicing every day, and crossing the cheat line.  Some don’t care.  The Win is everything.  Ribbons and Millions are at stake. But rules are there to make an even playing field.  And in the horse world, more importantly, to protect the horse, who easily can become victim to the human will to win.

And what does the horse think? Does he enjoy competition?  I think some do, especially those who are bred for it.  Cutters cut cows naturally.  Race horses love to run and will continue even when injured. Remember Charismatic?

charismatic-antley-holds-6-5-mm

But it is up to us humans to protect them- and to listen to what they like too. Not every cutter bred wants to cut.  Not every descendant of Seattle Slew wants to race.

Jigs enjoys versatility.  We may do a few this year but not to compete- just for fun.  And he LOVES trails.  We will do lots of trails this year. The goal is for both of us to have fun.

1974389_655277721174818_415382963_o

As to whether or not I will watch the Super Bowl and cheer for the Patriots…. I don’t know. It was a small and petty cheat. Still makes no sense to me.  And I suspect all Quarterbacks try to gain similar advantages.  Aaron Rodgers already stated he tries to get away with over inflation. But it does not make it right.  If they did it; it was wrong.

10922818_1380617835578545_5591865709514037429_n

I still have the secret hope they will find a non-cheat reason for the deflated balls.  And deep down inside, I harbor the hope of one more Super Bowl win.

What would Dad say about deflate gate?  He’d say they did it, watch the game and root for the win.

Regarding Grade Horses

July 27, 2014

Yesterday Jigs and I took 2nd place at a ACTHA Competitive Trail Ride!  We’ve been doing these rides off and on for a few years.  The first one we did we got 0 points for almost all obstacles.

scores for first ride

We’ve  come a long way.  Here are yesterday’s scores:

Scores for last ride

Yestdays ride

No, it isn’t first place, but I am so proud of what we have accomplished in the past few years.

Not bad for a grade pony!

I constantly stumble across posts and blogs putting grade horses down.  Facebook posters are especially opinionated about them.  “Grade horses should not be bred…you can’t show them…. buy a registered horse…”  I get it, you need the papers  to show. And there are too many unwanted horses.  But I have been around  “registered” horses with  serious problems that made them “unwanted.”

Of course, there is the issue of genetic defects. My beloved Pepper was  a good example this this.  A percentage of appaloosas go blind like he did, a result of uveitis. Other breeds have other risks.  You need to know the pedigree to avoid passing on unwanted traits.

Still, I wouldn’t trade my grade guy for anything!  He solid and sensible. Am I curious about his background?  Yes.  But in the end, it doesn’t matter.  He is who he is and that is enough.

 

 

Another Vacation Post

June 27, 2014

It’s that time again- the last day of vacation. There is still the weekend, but that doesn’t count.  It’s back to work on Monday.

Of course I had sensible plans for the week-pressure wash the house, give my room a good scrub, mow the lawn, send hoof boots off to have studs added, sort though my tack at the barn and in the cellar, ride my horse… BUT, not much of it got done.

I did send the hoof boots.

20140627_092907

And I rode in my Brand NEW Saddle!   So far we have logged over 20 miles in it!

ride

 

The house will get pressure washed in a few weeks.  The rest will get done too.  But for now, off to ride!

 

Chestnuts

May 24, 2014

I never liked chestnut horses.  They are too common. Uninteresting.  Was never a fan of Secretariat because he was a chestnut. It didn’t matter that he was a perfect specimen and ran faster than the wind; he was the wrong color.

Like many horse fanatics of my age, I grew up reading The Black Stallion and Misty of Chincoteague series. No chestnuts for me.

When it came time to get my first own horse, I wanted a bay. And then we got to the dealer’s barn and I saw him: a black and white appaloosa.

1977

Freedom – 1977

He was beautiful. The bay barely registered.  Freedom and I spent the next years together exploring and learning. It was perfect until college came along and I had to let him go.

I was hooked on appaloosas, fascinated by their colors and versatility: horses of a different color.

I was in my 40s when I was finally able to afford another horse. I wanted an appaloosa.

Knowing my limitations, I found one on a hack line at a local riding stable.  He rode quiet and had a snowflake pattern like Freedom, only he was a chestnut roan instead of black. Suffice it to say, Pepper was nothing like Freedom.  He rode well, but on the ground, was dangerous.  And I quickly gained firsthand knowledge about the connection between uveitus and appaloosas.

Pepper

Pepper

Pepper taught me more about horsemanship than any other horse. For that, I am grateful. I still miss him.

When the time came to get another horse I decided in order-

1) no appaloosas

2) no chestnuts

Then I met Jigs.  His personality is bigger than chestnut.  It was the first thing I saw about him as I walked around the barn to meet him. He looked at me with a “here I am” stance.  “Aren’t I handsome?”

DId it!

Did it!

He was.

“Jigsy” rode okay, but was pushy. “He doesn’t understand that natural horsemanship stuff, you can teach him easy enough,” the horse agent said.  Natural horsemanship, I thought?  He was plain in your face rude.

Nevertheless there was just something about him. I’m not even sure I realized he was chestnut.  Or that he had a split ear. I took him on trial. Both my barn manager and  trainer thought I was nuts.

Over the years Jigs has become my partner, my friend.  We’ve done so much together and we have more to do. I rarely think about his color; it is immaterial. To quote one of my favorite author/trainers, Mark Rashid, “a good horse is never a bad color.”