Posted tagged ‘responsible horse ownership’

More Goddard Park Memories

November 12, 2021

I love riding at Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick RI.  6-miles of woodsy trails run parallel to Greenwich Cove. The views are spectacular. Off seasons, horses are allowed on the beach. Over the years, Jigs and I have collected memories of sun, friends, and even spooky moments there.

During one of our first rides, Jigs spooked sideward at a squirrel, mid canter. Miraculously I stayed with him. My friends behind me commented we looked like Wile E Coyote getting jumped by the Roadrunner. I still chuckle thinking of it.

Another time Jigs kept creeping up on the mare in front, despite my best efforts. She got fed up with our rudeness. He took both back hooves in the center of his chest. I can still hear to hollow sound of the connection.

Even after years of visiting the park, Jigs refuses to canter in the water, but waves and boats no longer trouble him.

Last Sunday we made a few more memories. Thank you to my friends, Bethany of Pictorial Tales Photography and Kathy for the lovely photos!

The point
Along the Bay
The Bay

If you get a chance to ride there, I encourage you to make some memories of your own.

Partners

November 4, 2021

Rain drained most of the trees of their fall color, but some persist, flickering with flames of yellow, orange, and red.

My friend and I marked marked the annual pumpkin ride in the rain. It wasn’t too bad but by the time we finished 9 miles, we were drenched with both rain and laughter.

Autumn

I stress about trail marking and over mark so as not to lose anyone one in the forest. Getting lost in Upton State Forest is not likely. There are two main “roads” that circle it. Trails weave through and around them. Both go directly back to parking. 

We marked trails seldom used off Loop Road. They were a bit wet from this year’s constant rain, but passable with good stretches to move out.

October was not as busy as I hoped. Jigs and I competed again in a Mountain Trail Competition. The few lessons helped, we finished first in novice, but our scores were about the same in level one.  The mistakes were mine.

I’m surprised at how much I did learn in three lessons. We worked on hands and leg placement. Our turns are much better.

Unfortunately, lessons stopped due to the instructor’s schedule. Or maybe that was a polite excuse. Working with an older riding pair and a especially a “quarter horse” is not every dressage instructor’s dream. Best to have younger athletic riders and horses to work with, I suspect.  Too bad, I believe I could learn a lot from him.

Cross Buck

I signed up for a working equitation and western dressage clinic later this month. The clinician is popular in the area. Maybe she will give me a few more things to work on. I’m curious about both disciplines.

Next year I want to try different things. Jigs will be 19; our time together is flying by. He is the best horse I have owned and the most forgiving. I am so grateful for his friendship and all he has given me.

Comfort Zone

August 22, 2021

As I sit awaiting tropical storm Henri, I reflect on last weekend’s adventures. It’s easy to stay within your comfort zone, but growth comes from challenging yourself.

Saturday Jigs and I competed in the Mountain Trail Challenge at Mountain Lane Farm in Temple, New Hampshire. Their mountain trail course was designed by Mark Bolender. It is the only one in New England. We completed one of Mountain Lanes’ clinics in May with friends so that we could attend course play days, but we never made time to do that.

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I decided to attend their August competition anyway. After all, I bought the new trailer so that we could try different things. This was the first time I trailered Jigs alone since acquiring the Featherlite. He’s been iffy backing off it, but it was not an issue for him Saturday!

Swinging Bridge – Photo Courtesy Mountain Lane Farm
Water – Photo Credit Mountain Lane Farm

My goal was to compete in four classes, Level I Rider which is walk over moving obstacles and Level II Rider, walk, trot, which includes 180 and 360-degree turns. In retrospect, I probably should have done Novice and Level I since 360-degree turns are a work in progress for us! We also could be crisper side-passing and backing up.  On the other hand, Level II was a stretch and I now know what to focus on.

Well Earned Snack

We placed in both Level I classes, Open and Adult taking 3rd and a 4th. There were some amazing horse and riders in our division, and I am proud of our placings.  After ribbons were handed out, the judge came by and paid us a compliment. She said she saw Jigs and I have a great partnership! I was glowing.

Try- 360 Top of the Cake – Photo Courtesy of Mountain Lane Farm
Balance Beam – Photo Courtesy of Mountain Lane Farm

I doubt we placed in Level II but I do not know. I ended up scratching our last Level II class because I needed to be home by 4. I would have stayed if it was not for the commitment. While we were not competitive, I am proud of Jig’s try.

Bridge on the Course – Photo Courtesy Mountain Lane Farm

There is another competition in October; I’m planning to go!

Sunday was the second adventure. We attended the Baystate Trail Riders Associations’ Galloping Gourmet Ride at Lake Dennison! The ride covered BSTRA’s permanently marked 10-mile route. Unlike trails closer to home, there are few rocks and miles to move out. I think it was the fastest 10 miles I ever rode!

Bridge on Galloping Gourmet Ride

This year I have been struggling with letting Jigs canter on trails due to his tendency to “spook” at things I cannot see. (I laughingly rolled off him trotting at Miles Standish when he swerved at an old car fender trailside.)  His trot is fast enough to keep up with our cantering friends, so it is not an issue. This time, I let go for a few stretches and allowed him canter. Yes, he had a tiny spook but nothing I couldn’t handle.

HI

I’ve been thinking about the line between fear and comfort zone. In my head it gets jumbled up. There is a difference though. Thursday, we had a rare tornado warning as the remnants of Fred passed through the area. When the government emergency alert hit my phone, a sharp quiver jolted my nerves. The hair on my arms stood up. My brain fell apart. I was on a conference call and literally could not understand the speaker’s words. This was primal, instinctual. It told me to MOVE. I’m sure there is a scientific term for this.

Then there is the fear that hovers like a dull headache, always present just below my consciousness, encroaching on my comfort zone. It is shadowy, nebulous, yet it nudges me toward conservative choices- less MOVE, more STAY.

Things such as flying through the woods have become harder. I’m too aware of mortality, of what if, of worst-case scenario. I cannot allow that to take away the joy of loping through the woods or completing up a level. Even in my 60s, I can learn, grow and feel the joy of loping through the woods.

Camping at Myles Standish

September 18, 2020

Jigs and I had a fabulous time horse camping at Myles Standish State Forest (MSSF). Unlike Otter Creek where we stayed in a luxury “cabin” and turnout, I slept in a tent near Jigs. All night, I could hear quiet munching through my sleep.

And I slept well. Better than on my new mattress at home. I broke down and bought a low-end air mattress for this trip. What a difference from sleeping on the ground or even a cot. The mattress supported my hip; I did not wake sore or stiff.

The trails off the horse camps at MSSF are soft and sandy. Footing allows for miles of canter and gallop, if so inclined- and this old lady was not. Campsites are minimal with water spigots between them. There is no electricity other than in the camp bathrooms.  Cell service was spotty at best.  True camping.

Swimming

Disengaged from reality, I relaxed.

It was great to spend four days with Jigs. As a boarder, I do not normally feed. It was fun to be the “food lady” for a change. There is a special bond between horse and the person who feeds. For a few days, I got to feel that again.

Feeding Time

Do I wish I could keep my horse home? Yes and no.  Yes, because I miss the joy of early morning feeding and the bond formed by more one on one interaction.  But boarding has widened my circle and there is usually someone to ride with. Jigs gets to be in a herd. These factors make boarding a good option for us.  I suspect if Jigs were home with me, I would not ride as much. He would not be happy without his herd.  

The Herd

Horse Camping at Otter Creek

July 5, 2020

Jigs and I just got back from a wonderful vacation at Otter Creek Horse Trails in upstate New York. Travel between Massachusetts and New York is allowed due to declining Covid cases in both states. It was just my friend, a fellow boarder, and me staying with our horses.

Living Room
Stall with Turnout

Not camping like we usually do!

The private camp cabin where we stayed had strict, but sensible guidelines for safety. As for social distancing, we only encountered a few other riders in 5 days of riding. Our private cabin was away from the main New York State camping area which is currently closed for overnight camping. We did trailer down to ride there midweek and only ran into one other group of riders.

The trails at Otter Creek are amazing with sandy footing in most places. Trails were marked by names and the map provided by the facility was well done. We may have “missed” a few turns, but mostly because we were flying along having fun!

Picnic areas with water sources and a place to tie out were also marked on the map. Each day we planned a route with lunch in mind and a place to rest up the horses.

Lunch Break

Time flew by too fast and alas, we are back.

I highly recommend Horse Camps at Otter Creek and the horse trails. We hope to return someday soon.

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!

 

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.

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Pepper

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….

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.

 

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….

Driving Lessons

August 24, 2014

A year ago tomorrow, Dad died. It feels as if it was yesterday.  Zac was playing in his first Football game.  I was going to watch a half then catch some of  Caleb’s game. I never made it.

I got the call that he had been unresponsive at the nursing home and was being rushed to the ER. I left my daughter and her family to meet my mother at the hospital.  He was gone before I got there.

It was unreal.

Yesterday I went to the Marshfield Fair to compete in the annual versatility. The course was hard and riders were taking the full six minutes only to get the time disqualification. Jigs and I did okay in our first two rounds but not perfect.  It was a long day; I scratched our third round and went home.  There had been only one perfect round when I left.  I have no idea who won and I don’t care. Jigs did okay, that was enough.  Our score was 85 and we finished well under the time limit.

We returned to the barn late afternoon.  As I was backing my car out, I misjudged and cut to wide, nicking the corner of my friend’s stock trailer. The steel trailer was scratched, but okay;  my seven month old car, not so okay. There’s damage to the rear panels that will require body work.

I felt horrible- upset I hit my friend’s trailer, upset my new car was damaged.  All the while, Dad was in my mind.

The boys had their first games of the year at the same time today. I decided not to go to any of them. Instead, Jigs and I went on a trail ride. It’s what I do when my mind is unsettled. It was a lovely late August day, grapes and drying leaves.

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After the ride I visited Dad at Saint Luke’s Cemetery.  There were flowers and the usual Patriot’s flag. A day short of a year and I am still in shock.

As I was leaving, a long buried memory surfaced. I was 15 ½ and preparing for the driving test.  Dad took me to the cemetery to practice turning and backing up. He got out of the car, grabbed a beer from the six pack he had brought, threw me the keys, and walked up the hill. “You drive by yourself. These corners are pretty tight.  I’ll watch from up here. Don’t hit anything,” he said over his shoulder.

I suspect he’s still watching me. He must have had a good laugh at my poor turning yesterday.

Miss you Joe.

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