Posted tagged ‘responsible horse ownership’


November 6, 2013

It’s dark at 5 again. Where did the year go?

We ended the season with an ACTHA ride Saturday and the Eastern Regional Trail Ride on Sunday.  Mixed results. We ribboned at the ACTHA ride but there was a mix up due to a tie. I should have been 5th or 6th, but was given the 4th place ribbon. The ride could have been organized better.

Ta Da

Sunday was, well…  Winning the year before made me tense. I was worried we would bomb the obstacles and we did. Self fulfilling prophecy. We were horrible. Jigs was, well, he lived up to his name, rushing through everything to hurry up and catch friends.

It started with THE GATE.

Last year it opened from the left side. We can side pass pretty well to the right and did the gate almost perfectly. This year it opened from the right, requiring a side pass left. It’s our weak side. I knew it. He knew it. The result wasn’t pretty. At North Brookfield, if you can’t do the gate, you can’t do well.

That was pretty much the case for the rest of the obstacles.  And in between, there was no still. We battled the whole ride.

It was not fun.

I have thought a lot about it since Sunday. I think I felt pressured to do well and couldn’t relax. The year before we were just foolin’ (horsin’) around. We joyfully played through the obstacles. The judges saw that and our scores reflected a relaxed horse and rider having fun.

Sunday, I was tense, so he was tense.

My issue, not his.

We have lots of stuff to work on this winter.

“Big sigh” says Jigs.  “More leg yields….”


October 3, 2013

– for my red pony

We leave hoof prints

in the soft mud

of early spring,

before the bursting

of bugs and buds.

Summer rises

to meet us as we soar

the green field toward

the blue parachute of sky,

never reaching it.

Yellow stalks of corn

clatter in the wake of autumn

leading us to white fields

of snow, barren, but

flecked with rainbows

of light and memory.

– apaul 2013


Did I break my Horse?

August 3, 2013

So Jigs is “off” at the trot but it’s just barely perceptible on level ground. He is noticeably lame at the trot under saddle.  Panic starts.

I talked to our Vet and she thought if he was okay on the flat lunging but off under saddle, it might be the saddle hurting him.  THIS IS A NEW SADDLE- our 5th!  He’s been wonderfully fluid in it.  Panic grows stronger.

So I hop on bareback- just as off.

She was dealing with a colic and will call me to make an appointment to see him next week.  This is not life threatening after all…

Now I’m thinking did my fat butt break Jigs? I am not the petite person I once was. Poor Jigs. He’s really not very big.

Then, I noticed a he is bleeding at the coronary band and has a bruise on his hoof.   It wasn’t there before I rode him.



Brewing abscess?  But not on the side he is “off.”

Last year I remember the same thing. I was treating the right side but he blew the abscess on the left……  ARRGGHHHHHHHH

Wild Stallions (or so they think)

June 9, 2013

Jigs and his two herd mates have been moved to the front pasture.  The boys now can be seen from the road. I think they enjoy hamming it up. Typical bachelors.

Yesterday morning they decided to be the chestnut stallion gang, running and bucking around the field. It was a great show – fun to watch, unless you have to catch one of them and load him on a trailer.

To be fair, it rained hard the night before, hard enough that I had to vacuum water out of the cellar. They were inside all night and had just been let out.

Then I pulled the trailer out.  Jigs sauntered to the far side of the pasture in an attempt to hide from it.  Lucky and Big Man followed, as usual. Soon they were playing tag.

I calmly walked into the pasture holding Jigs’ halter and lead rope.  Normally Jigs comes up to me. Not this time. He turned toward me, snorted and literally “high tailed” himself away at a gallop.

By now the mares were watching the show, breakfast hay hanging out of their mouths.

We really needed to get going.  I thought for a moment.  What to do?

I went back to the barn, grabbed a half empty bag of treats and returned to the show.

Jigs and Lucky were still flying round, pawing and rearing at each other. Big Man was cantering behind them in an attempt not to be left out.

I shook the bag.

They all stopped and turned toward me.  TREATS?!?

That was the end of the chestnut stallion game.

“What cha got there?”

Jigs slipped his head into the halter.



March 26, 2013

The weather finally is catching up with the calendar. It was actually WARM today. Of course, with warm comes mud, but that’s okay. Mud will dry- makes for messy hoof picking in the interim though.

We are also in the midst of the great SHEDDING. I keep finding horse hair everywhere. I got to work this morning and realized my coat was covered with it.  The uneasy thought occurred to me the coat probably smells like horse too. Oh well, I concluded. Who cares?

I believe this belligerent attitude is due to weather delays, canceled rides, and events. It’s a busy time of year and I feel like I have to stop to catch my breath.

But I suspect the real reason for my foul mood is that the past surfaced without invitation this week. Old scars aren’t as healed as I thought and I’ve spent the last two days alternating angry and sad. The memoir I had constructed to assuage an old loss, an old hurt, was revealed as fiction, not history. Everything I had come to terms with years ago has come undone.

And I am angry. And I am hurt. And I am tired.

If it wasn’t for Jigs, I would be a wreck.

But there he was tonight, standing in the mud munching hay, watching me with that look of his. For that moment, there was just him and me. Nothing else mattered, not the mud, the long day, or self-delusion.


Did the Ground Hog Lie?

February 24, 2013


 “Punxsutawney Phil’ Predicts Early Spring”    Well, where is it?

This is the second Sunday in a row a local equine event was canceled due to SNOW- last weekend the Versatility; this week Team Sorting. I’m bummed and bored.

It is snowing now.

The large ground rodent has two weeks to bring on the warmer weather and lose the snow or his prediction will have no more merit than a carnival fortune teller’s.

The trails have been snow covered all month- mostly passable, but the snow rain mix predicted for today will make them too icy to be safe if it stays below freezing. (How did they get around in the old days?)

All the horses are fed up and have been naughty.

I guess we got spoiled last and most of this winter.  Global warming was starting to seem like it wasn’t so bad for winters in New England. (Does that make me a terrible person?) And then, February happened.

The snow came the weekend I finally received the saddle we won back in November. It is really cool.  “ERTR 2012 Champion” is stamped on both fenders. I’m antsy to try it out, but with the weather, I’ve only been able to ride in it once.


Jigs made it clear to me he doesn’t like the rear cinch. We’ve never used one before. It makes me nervous that some refer to them as “bucking straps.” I’ll need to work with him on the ground with it before taking him on the trail with it just to be safe.


So, Phil, I’m impatient. Where is this mythical spring you predicted?


February 18, 2013

I’ve been avoiding writing lately. Writing requires thinking. Thinking takes energy- something I seem to be lacking of late.

I wonder if this is how bears feel upon waking from their long sleep?  I just want to pull the blanket over my eyes, roll over, and go back to the warmth of dreams.

Still February. Still Cold. Still snow. Lots of Wind.

While I have suffered from ennui, the horses are READY to GO….. even Jigs. He’s got the Yahoo bug just like all his herd mates.

I’m too old for Yahooing.

The trails are snow covered, but the footing is not too bad.

Poor Jigs.  He’s had to walk through the snow with only short periods of slow trotting. He thinks it would be more fun to GALLOP.

Such an indignity for the split eared sorrel.

Snow trail


January 16, 2013

As Zach and I got out of the car we heard a huge whinny.  “What’s that?” he asked.  One of the other borders coming out of the barn answered laughing, “Guess he’s excited you’re here.”

Jigs? It wasn’t a welcome whinny and Jigs is not normally vocal.  Was that Jigs?

He was in his stall pacing even though he had hay. He screamed again.

“What’s up with Jigs,” I asked eying him for other signs of distress.

“He had an interesting day.”


“He got turned out with a few of the mares.”

Oh-Oh, I thought, remembering a camping incident and some ‘horse foreplay’ at 5 AM that involved me yelling, “Jigs get down,” and waking half the camp ground.

“On purpose?” I asked.

“Thought we could change up the herd but Jigs decided they were his mares wouldn’t let anyone else near them.”

That happened the last time he was in a mixed herd.

By now Jigs was on the cross-ties and, pardon the pun, jigging in place. He screamed again.

“Cut it out Jigs,” I said pulling the cinch tighter. He snorted and swished his tail.

“Zach, want to ride?” I asked looking at him sidewards.

“Ahhh, no,” he said stepping away quickly. “I’ll just watch you tonight.”

Jig whinnied again. No response from the mares.

Jigs in Stall

Birthday Gift

January 13, 2013

on my birthday

I got a great birthday present today from Jigs- 3 clean rounds! And we improved our time each run.

The theme for the Versatility was birthday party- fun on my birthday!

The past few months have been hard and sad, but Jigs has been there at the barn with his red face making me laugh. He keeps me whole.

Red PonyI remember when Jigs first came home. His big personality was a bit much for me in the beginning. I found it hard to groom him, pick his hooves. He hated the cross ties and would dance around like a jumping bean. I wonder at myself for not sending him back before the end of the trial period.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

Now he hands me his hoof before I ask. He tolerates grooming and cross ties.

He still is a joker. It’s not unusual for him to walk through the barn aisle taking down anything hanging on the doors. Last week he pulled the aisle mat out of the barn.

We have become a partnership. I may not be a good rider, but he knows what I am asking and tries to comply. He can tell when I am off balance and adjusts. He takes care of me.

I cut my hair a during Christmas break. When I returned to work, someone who doesn’t know me very well asked me what my “S.O.” thought about it.

“My what?” I honestly didn’t know what a S.O. was.

“Significant Other,” he explained.

I thought about it a moment. I’m not married, I don’t have a boyfriend and haven’t for at least 10 years. “Ah,” I exclaimed the light dawning. “He didn’t notice because he was too busy mugging me for treats.”

He looked at me confused.

“My horse,” I explained.

“Oh,” he said backing away from me.

But the truth is it is about partnership. That’s what Jigs and I have.

That and a pocket full of treats!



October 25, 2012

Trust is a noun of confidence, reliability, and strength. Trust is a verb of belief and hope.

Trust does not come easy. Sometimes it is a two lane highway- if you don’t look both ways, you might get run over by a Mac truck.

There is an element of faith in trust.

Trust can be earned.

My sorrel pony trusts me.  He trusted me enough last weekend to do ALL 10 obstacle the first time. He got a blue ribbon for this and two additional blue ribbons by the end of the day.

Trust is a gift.

It is reciprocal. I trust the sorrel too- we are partners.

That, too, is a gift!