Posted tagged ‘life’

Helen Marina Paul July 4, 1933 – April 3, 2019

April 13, 2019

helen paul at cape seal tour

The past two weeks have been incredibly difficult. My mother passed away on April 3. The death certificate lists the time at 1:34 AM, but it was earlier because it took the nurse 45 minutes to come.  It’s funny how details like that stick in your mind.

My mother’s congestive heart failure had worsened; she refused treatment. At 85, she was tired. Her world had shrunken. She missed my father and all who passed before.  She wanted to stay home and was terrified she would end up in a nursing home. I could not allow that.

Hospice was invoked on Monday; she was gone barely into Wednesday. She was not alone. We were all there.

Since then I have been consumed by the things that have to happen when someone dies- Wake, funeral, finances, taxes. There is still more to do.

My girls and Jigs have kept me sane. Everyone has been so kind.

My eldest did the remembrance at the funeral. I just couldn’t do it. It was beautiful and she captured our best memories.

The house feels empty.  I have been staying here almost 15 years- since my father got sick.

Taking care of my mother was the core focus the past few years. I’m not sure what will happen next. It is all changed now. I guess my life will settle into a new pattern. I will adjust, but I will always miss her.

Birthday

January 13, 2019

My family doesn’t celebrate adult birthdays. I can’t tell you the last time I had a cake. Not that I care.

Today is my birthday. I am officially over 60.

I chose today to scan my fading photos of Freedom. The old Kodak and Polaroid snapshots don’t age as well as me. Going through them has made me a little sad and a lot grateful for the life I was given.

I try not to regret anything. It’s wasted time. That doesn’t mean we cannot learn from our failures, our mistakes. In some ways, they can be a gift if we don’t rip them open carelessly.

But there is one regret I have been unable to leave behind. It is Freedom. The hurt of having to sell him to go to college is as fresh at 61 as it was at 18. My regret is that I did not fight hard enough to convince my parents to let me keep him.

Saying Goodbye August 1976

Saying Goodbye 1976

I do believe if I had not sold him, my life would be different.

Freedom was purchased by a woman who promised she would give us first right of refusal. I did visit him once, about a year after he left me.  I tried to contact her again, but the number was disconnected.

last visit

Last Visit with an Old Friend

I found out years later that she had gone through a nasty divorce. Freedom and her other horse, went to auction.

He was a good-looking appaloosa, well bred, so there is a chance he landed safely. I did reach out to the Appaloosa Horse Club to try to find his new owner, but I was still listed. The paperwork was never transferred.

I don’t know what that means. I hope he found a family to cherish him the way I did.  I think about him every day. He lives in my heart.

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.

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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!

 

Next Year….

November 11, 2018

Versatility season is over. This week I got to watch my friend and the mustang she trained compete at Equine Affair and do very well. It was exciting cheering for them.

Daylight Savings has ended, and my lessons will be on hold, or at least rescheduled due to lack of light. I have learned a lot since we started them. but still have a long way to go.

I am gaining confidence. Although my goal was to get better at the canter, we have also improved the trot thanks to my instructor.  She doesn’t get frustrated when I repeatedly ask her to break things down. She’s also not afraid to get on Jigs and show me.

This all paid off- in September and October, Jigs earned two first place finishes. And won money!!! I must say Jigs was more impressed with the treats that came with that prize.

Last weekend we finished second in a large pleasure ride.

North Brookfield Pleasure Ride - 2018

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More importantly, Jigs appears to enjoy these competitions. If he didn’t, we would stop. I would be okay riding trails and collecting miles.  Having said that, we may expend our horizon next year…. maybe a few cow clinics or perhaps try, dare I think it, a show?

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.

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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!

Loosestrife

July 22, 2018

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“Invasive,”

the word conjures

metal armored legions

and goose-stepping Fascists,

not the purple-palled spires

that rise from marsh ponds

and riverbanks.

Every Summer, the purple army

spreads across New England.

“A plague,” say some.

 

Some years it is

gypsy moth caterpillars.

Their obnoxious pellets

cover everything

from cars to picnics.

Nothing is sacred.

One year they stripped the leaves

from the trees so that August

resembled April and Spring

came twice that year.

At night, we even heard

their munching in our sleep-

noxious soldiers

devouring forests.

 

Experts warned

the trees would die

if the caterpillars

were not stopped.

Three years of deleafing

is more than even

an oak can stand.

So that Spring

we wound foil

and Vaseline

around tree trunks,

sprayed insecticide

at the base,

and held our breath

as we waited

for the barrage to descend

from silken tents.

 

Nothing happened.

No caterpillars

wicked as Nazis,

organized as Romans

arrived. “A virus,”

experts shrugged.

 

 

The Amazon basin

is being strip mined,

the Borneo rainforest

razed by loggers.

We consume, inhabit

every place march out

even into space.

Look at those purple spires,

feathers reaching

toward the sun.

They reflect back

in the black pond water,

nodding occasionally

to the wind,

or a ripple

from a passing trout.

#besthorseintheworld

July 4, 2018

Last night something wonderful happened.

It’s been hot. Too hot to ride with the temps in the 90s and the humidity above 65.  But there was a slight breeze last night and I could hear thunder in the distance- a promise of relief that never came.

I decided to jump on bareback for a few moments. My thought was to navigate a few obstacles and then hose him off.

Jigs cooperated- well, in between trying to grab the long grass at the edge of the area. We trotted around a bit. We chased the big jolly ball.

And then something wonderful happened. I wrapped my legs around his rib cage and we loped!

Honestly it was totally by accident. Normally our transitions are fraught with bumps between lope and trot or walk.

Not this time. Jigs picked up a carousel type lope and transitioned back to the walk smoothly after a few strides. I was shocked. Tears filled my eyes.

At first it was an accident. Then I asked for it. We did it again, and again.

The last time I loped bareback was as a teenager on Freedom! I never thought at my age I would be able to do it.

Thank you to #thebesthorseintheworld!!!

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Judge Pleasure Ride

June 25, 2018

My First Trophy

We did it. We won the Senior Division of the 2018  Bay State Trail Rider’s Lea MacInnis Judged Pleasure Ride! We have never finished better than second before.

The funny thing is that our scores were better last year. Jigs and I left a lot of points on the trail, but a win is a win and we have some things to work on! Points were lost because I rushed Jigs and in one case, did not listen to instructions. User error.

Unlike a versatility, the Lea Macginnis Judged Pleasure Ride is a trail ride with obstacles sprinkled throughout. Points are awarded for how well the horse and rider perform each task. Some obstacles are like those in a versatility or trail class; others are  closer to what trail riders encounter on the trail. For example, this year’s challenge included crossing a narrow metal bridge over running water. You had to dismount and walk your horse across, then remount. An extra point was awarded for mounting on the offside.

Jigs and I needed that point. He HATES these types of bridges and rushed passed me to his friends on the other side. Naughty pony.

I fretted most of the 7 miles about the upcoming second to last obstacle. It was a jump and then a canter. I am terrified of jumping and, well, I have no confidence at the canter.

Fretting Face

Canter? I have to Canter in public?

Jigs trotted to the jump and stepped over it, nicking the rail with his hind hoof and loosing a point, BUT we got the canter correct!!!  Trophy or not, that made the day perfect.

judged ride blue ribbon 2018

Senior Division

My friend and her young mustang took over all champion and won the year end award. I am so proud of them!

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.

Sunday Scare

January 21, 2018

Jigs scared us today. We have been partners for 8 years and apart for a muscle tear quite a few years back and some abscesses, he’s been relatively healthy. Not so much today.

While being hoof trimmed, one side of his body started twitching. He was wobbly at the walk. I was terrified.

An emergency vet visit was warranted. My trusty vet was off; her coverage was one and a half hours away.

While waiting, he pooped, twice. There was a touch of blood in the first pass. For non-horse people, pooping is extremely important. Horse people have no qualms about picking through and analyzing poop. It’s just digested grass after all.  We can be quite obsessive about it and it is a common discussion point at barns everywhere.

Not pooping can mean an impaction and surgery…or worse. What goes in a horse must come out via poop. According to Google, horses have between 50 and 70 feet of intestines.  That is a lot of real-estate for problems. A problem can be a death sentence. A few weeks ago, an acquaintance lost her precious horse to colic. It is heartbreaking.

The twitching frightened me. Could it be HYPP? HYPP or equine Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis Disease occurs in quarter horse who trace back to the stallion Impressive. Muscle twitching is a symptom. Jigs’ origin is not known. He is muscular, like many Impressive breed horses.

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Jigs at Arcadia

I did do some DNA testing on Jigs. It’s not accurate. His DNA came back in order , Argentinian Crollio, Holsteiner, and Missouri Fox Trotter. Huh?  Barely 14.2 hands, where did the Hosteiner come from? He looks like a quarter horse.

I was freaking out. Could he have a genetic disease? How would I know? Google made it worse.

My friend suggested I ride her mare. I am not a good enough rider to ride her lovely mare, but I needed distraction, so I did. Thank you, Amy.

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Me Riding Babe

The vet came.

She did the exam. He was slightly off on the hind, but barely. Not like earlier when he was wobbling. She did a full exam and felt no impaction, although one side of his gut was less active than the other. She said he is so small she got a good feel of most of his intestines and he was fine. Such a relief.

She did bloodwork. His platelets were a bit low and his calcium a tad high, but overall, he was fine. She said if it were a different time of year and if he had a fever, the diagnosis may have been Ehrlichia, a common tick disease in our area, but he was not running a fever. And he was eating, although less enthusiastically than normal.

So the conclusion is what our regular vet thought during an email exchange, mild colic.  He finally  passed the manure that was hard causing pain and the twitching. We’ll watch for a few days and soak his feed just to be sure.

I hope he will be fine.