Posted tagged ‘Riding Lessons’

Ghost Horse

March 22, 2014

Back to the clinic today- I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t nervous.  In fact, I had taken to wearing my bracelet made of Pepper’s tail in last few days.  I also had a few conversations with him about Jigs’ yahoo antics.

After the last clinic, we took Jigs and Angel to an indoor and let them loose.  Jigs bounced around bucking and farting until he decided it was too much work.

“Can I come in?”

I stepped into him and pushed him out again.


Nope get going.

“But I’m tired….”

The conversation continued until we were both panting.

This morning, when the trailer pulled into the driveway, Jigs and Angel stopped eating. Both had the  Oh-Oh, something is up look.

Jigs took off for the back pasture at a gallop bucking and farting.


He blew by me again.

I stood there mumbling, “Nope, not walking back there through the snow and mud.  I’ll wait.”   Sighing deeply I thought about Pepper.  He had pastured in this field. I fumbled with his bracelet. There is a lot I could write about that, but another time.

After a few more high speed circuits, the game was over.  Jigs decided it was too much work and returned to his hay.  I was able to halter him.

The clinic was fun. Jigs enjoyed refusing obstacles and then doing them without hesitation once he realized I WAS NOT kidding.

Several times, I was asked if I was going to canter but I politely said I wasn’t ready. “April.” The truth is, we could have. Jigs was well behaved and soft. More importantly, he was listening to me, unlike the last time. But it is early in the season and we are both out of shape. We trotted a good hour.

We used the trophy saddle and he seemed more comfortable in it.  So was I.  It places me in a more balanced position.  My legs are not as far forward as they are in the Tucker.

I have decided the Tucker is going up for sale.

After the horses were untacked, we took them into the barn to drink.  Loose on the lead, Jigs slipped into a random stall.  “Come on Jigs,” I said as I led him back to the aisle.

“Did you see the name on the stall he went in?” my friend asked.

“No? What is it?”

“Pepper,” she said.

I smiled to myself, not entirely surprised.


Over Thinking

February 23, 2014


Warm.  Yesterday. Today. Yeah.

It’s now the big snow melt.  Icy mud.  But who cares?  Spring.  It will be here in less than a month!

And it is lighter at end of day. Not that I get the benefit with my work  schedule.  But spring and, soon to follow, summer are coming.

Yesterday was the first installment in a Versatility Clinic up in Orange, MA. Too much ice and snow to warm up, but Jigs behaved himself, sort of.

I learned that I have huge holes in a few areas (like stopping, cantering, side passing….), but was pleasantly surprised at how well Jigs did. We stood, all four feet atop a pedestal- twice, but somewhat by accident. Wish we had a photo  but when we tried to do it on purpose in front of the camera, I fell apart. The clinician said –“you do better when you’re not thinking about it.”

That’s what happened at the Eastern Regional Ride. My brain got in the way. Jigs ran through my hands and the obstacles.  The year before we were having fun and my brain was shut off.

So why does the brain interfere with feel? Instead of being in the moment, I get thinking about what’s next and cue too early, too late, too stiff, or not at all.

This is really hard, but I suspect really worth it.

A New Season

September 22, 2013

Summer’s over.

It was not the Summer I expected and I’m glad it is over.

I didn’t ride as much as past summers and as a result, someone at the barn joked Jigs is “getting fat”.

He’s not, but it is true he’s not as fit as past years. Work kept me from riding in the evening. My dad was in the nursing home and died in August. I am still shell shocked.

And now it is autumn.

Last weekend Jigs and I did a hunter pace in Douglas State Forest. We did well, even going over some small jumps bumps. (Jigs and I have a no jumping rule). With our partners (human and equine), we finished in 4th place, 10 minutes ahead of the ideal pace (ok, it was in the slowest division). Jigs was exhausted when we were done. I’d ask for a canter and the response was, “I don’t want to.” It took lots of leg to change his mind.

Yesterday we did the Tyrone Farm Judged Pleasure ride. I didn’t know what to expect. Two of the obstacles were similar to the ones we do in versatility- dismount/mount and pickup up and move a cup. The other two were not. One was a step down jump- 3 feet. We chickened out and stepped off the side (2 feet).  The other obstacle was to canter a figure 8 downhill in an open field, stopping between loops. Jigs and I managed it breaking gait once and missing the one of the stops. He got his leads correct though!

It was good enough for third place in our division.

It was a glorious: nine miles for soft trails across beautiful landscape.

Tyrone FarnfieldIn the woods

Autumn is the best time to ride in New England. It’s cooler. The bugs are gone. And the trees are starting to turn.  It’s time to get Jigs back into peak form.

Last Day of Vacation

August 16, 2013

Another vacation week spent. Didn’t do anything I intended to do except ride the sorrel pony.

I’m stuck at the moment. I can’t get leg yields or side passes to the left.  My right hip aches from the tries.  As a result, we can’t open and close the gate well. It brings our scores down on judged rides.

This week I added little English spurs to the mix. It helps, but not enough. Both Jigs and I were frustrated with one another after 20 minutes of tries.

I left the barn to get lunch and on the way decided to picnic in the field with the sorrel and his pasture mate.

Sandwich and drink in hand I trudged out to the field. It was a beautiful day- more September than August. There was a large flat rock the right size for a picnic. It was perfect.

Both horses were curious. What was the human doing now?  They stood respectfully (well, respectfully after being shooed off a few times) watching me eat. A light breeze kept the sun from being too warm and the flies from bothering the horses.

I started to relax.  My last day of vacation- what a wonderful moment. Next week it is back to the everyday work stress, but not yet.

Jigs walked me back to the gate.  So, we can’t open it and close it smoothly?  It will happen eventually.  Jigs is my best friend. Who better to spend the last day of vacation with?

The boys in the front field.

The boys in the front field.

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

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!


December Blues

December 8, 2012

December is the dark month. I leave for work just after it starts to get light and return home well after dark. Time to get things done is more compressed. Without the light, I feel like I’m in hibernation.

Some days I am overwhelmed by the dark.

By the time I get to the barn Jigs is eating in the field. Sometimes he comes to the gate to visit; other times he ignores me.

I don’t blame him. It is colder and he needs his hay to keep warm.

There are 31 days in December.

Despite this hibernation/lack of ride time, Jigs is still Jigs.  He’s been really girthy lately and I believe he has outgrown his saddle- white hairs have reappeared (he had them last year when his winter coat grew out and had them when I got him).  His back isn’t sore and the vet said it is roaning (he has roaning on his face and sprinkling of white hairs on his body) but I owe it to Jigs to make sure his saddle is right for him. If the saddle I won doesn’t fit when it arrives, I’ll buy a new one, possibly a Tucker. In the mean time, it’s back to the thinner pad. Jigs is definitely wider and more muscular than he was a year ago.

After all, Jigs is the wonder pony!  Last weekend he participated in a Versatility with two 11 year olds and took 1st and 2nd place in the Junior division! (Our own time time only good enough for 4th place in the adult division.)

One of the boys has years of experience riding and he and Jigs took first place with a respectable time. The other, my grandson, has only been riding for a few months. Jigs’ demeanor with him was careful and deliberate. He seemed to adjust to Zac’s experience level making sure Zac was safe and had fun!

I know I’m repeating myself, but Jigs is the best. He doesn’t have fancy papers or even know his lineage; he isn’t flashy being a sorrel; but he has great heart!

So if he prefers his hay to me, I’m okay with that…..

jon with jigs at hillsideZac riding jigs at hillside