Posted tagged ‘trail riding’

New Coolers

November 11, 2019

I finally got around to taking photos of the two coolers Jigs won At the Eastern Regional Pleasure Trail Ride.  Can’t help but brag!

new cooler womens over 2019

Women’s Over 2019

jigs 2019 Ride Champion

2019 Ride Champion

We won a saddle at this ride in 2012 and have ribboned since, but not placed first.

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Unfortunately the saddle does not fit Jigs, so it sits in my cellar collecting dust.  I can’t bring myself to sell it…. that year the ride was dedicated to one of the organizers mother who was a founder of the ride. It was an honor to win it. And like this year, totally unexpected!

 

 

 

Progress

November 5, 2019

Practice and perseverance have paid off (sorry for the cliché). I took Jigs to multiple events over the last month and except for one day of VERY naughty pony, he was fantastic.  We were overall champion in our division at three events!

2019 Champion

What is more exciting is that one included horsemanship at walk, trot, AND CANTER. I feel like we are starting to get it.

I’m sure there will be more good and some bad days, but we will figure it out. I am not the type of rider that pushes. Each step we take is slow, but this year, our progress is visible.  We are learning to dance.

jigs champion of the day

Summer Blahs

August 15, 2019

Summer is burning to a slow end. It is mid-August.

Jigs and I have not done much other than lessons. It’s been a season of canceled events, the most recent due to the heat and humidity July threw at us. Too hot to move. Not safe for the horses.

Lessons have continued. Slight progress has been made, but it seems the more I learn, the more I am aware of my shortcomings. I’m not an athlete. I mix up left and right. My cues are awkward. I am not quiet and talk to much to Jigs with hands, legs, and voice. A hot mess.  I’ve given up on ever showing or competing seriously in versatility.

On the plus side, Jigs looks fantastic. He is lean and muscled as never before. Consistency is good for him. This summer I commissioned a painting of him that now hangs in my living room.

jig painting

I am looking forward to fall and the cooler weather when we can trailer out to a few organized rides. Perhaps then my usual optimism will return.

My Mother’s Birthday

July 3, 2019
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Jigs on a trail ride

I’ve always been that bizarre little girl who obsesses about horses. I am convinced it is genetic.

It’s weird because the horse stories in my family are not positive. My mother used to tell me about my grandmother, Concepcion Morales Martin. She grew up in the Cuban mountains near the city of Cienfuegos. When she was a young girl, her father would bring produce to the local city. One time, the colt of the horse that pulled the cart kicked her. She was in a coma for days. When my great grandfather returned from his trip, he made a pledge to the virgin in the local church- his daughter’s life for a gold hat.

My grandmother woke from her coma. The hat was presented to the Virgin.

My grandmother once told me she was upset because while she was “sleeping,” her sisters got first pick of the parasols that her father brought back from the city. She said she was left with the “ugly one.”

My mother heard the story and was terrified of horses.

And then there was me.

It was an obsession. I remember riding the spring horse aggressively in the spare bedroom. I just knew, even at the age of 3, I belonged on a horse.

I grew up pretending I was one. Summers were spent at my grandmother’s. I would run in the woods- a wild horse. When I found The Black Stallion books, I was hooked. Margarite Henry was another favorite. My first ride was on a pony owned by a friend of my parents. I stayed on as we crossed the lawn. Past the driveway, I fell off. I wanted to get back on but was told “no”.

My mother was afraid. My father was afraid. Eventually I got to play with a neighbor’s pony. I fell off Princess more than I stayed on; I hid my falls from my parents. I got a lesson at a local stable, but when the barn sour horse ran home with me, my father said no more.

One Summer the plan was to send me to horse camp. My parents decided to install an inground pool instead. They said they could not afford both. I never recovered from the disappointment.

After a detour down the wrong path, my parent finally allowed me to get my own horse at 15- a yearling. I know, green rider, green horse, bad idea, but for Freedom and me, it worked.

I never should have agree to sell him to attend college. Selling Freedom is my one regret in life.

In my 60’s, I am still that obsessed child. This time I have Jigs. He is all I could have wanted. He keeps me sane.

For years. I blamed my mother for not sending me to horse camp. I never learned proper riding techniques. Shortly before her death, she admitted to me that the pool was a ruse. My father was afraid I would be hurt at horse camp. She wanted me to go.

The death of my mother this April has been hard. I am a loner, but for Jigs. He grounds me. He keeps me connected to my barn friends. He is my life saver.

Funny thing is, not once did my mother touch him.

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Joe and Helen Paul 25th Wedding Anniversary

Photo Shoot

April 14, 2019

I have never been comfortable with having my photo taken but when a friend, who is a talented photographer and fellow barn rat, offered to take some photos of Jigs, I thought, it might be fun, so why not?

The pictures are stunning. Bethani captured quiet moments between Jigs and me.

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And as you can see, Jig’s is a bit of a ham!

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I highly recommend Pictorial Tales By Bethani.

Mud Season

March 17, 2019

Overnight, snow morphed into mud.  Got to love New England!

Two weeks ago, I had to cancel my lesson because my trailer was frozen to the driveway.  (Lesson learned, don’t forget the wooden block).

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This week, it is too muddy to trailer out. (I once managed to get my trailer stuck in the mud, learned that lesson too.)

Some of the barn gals and I tried to get out on the trails, but it was too muddy; we returned back to the barn disappointed. It is sad to have a 50 degree day and not be able to ride.

Out of respect for the trails, it is best to stay off them until the mud dries up.

It’s tricky keeping horses in suburbia. Unless we trailer out to a State or National Park, we ride shorter local trails heavily used by mountain bikers, runners, hikers, dog walkers, and families. Some of them are not thrilled about horses sharing their trails. In some towns, horses already have been prohibited access.

Manure is a concern that continues to surface as a complaint. One argument I have heard is that if dog waste must be carried out of the woods, so should horse waste.  Unlike dog feces, horse manure does not contain significant pathogens that pose risk to humans or the environment. Horses are herbivores and their droppings break down quickly.

However, I understand the “ick” factor. Horse poo is large and other trail users do not want to step in it. If Jigs goes on a high traffic trail, I do get off and kick it out of the way as a courtesy. Of course, he is only 14.3 hands, so getting back on is not as much a challenge as a 16 plus hand horse would be.

I also try to be courteous to fellow trail users- many of whom have no livestock experience. I consider myself an ambassador for my sport. Friendly conversational education goes a long way to promote good will.

Will it be enough? Maybe. Maybe not. The equestrian community must take an active role in maintaining our access to trails. Some ways to do this include attending local meetings, trail work days, and joining trail organizations.

I belong to the Bay State Trail Riders Association. BSTRA has spent years supporting multi-use trails in Massachusetts. Through their advocacy, trail riders have a strong voice and a mechanism to give back to the trails.  Visit http://www.bstra.org to view the list of projects they have completed. It is impressive.

There are clubs like this all over the country. If maintaining access for trail riding is important to you, I recommend you seek out organizations in your area and add your voice and hands to the fight.

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.

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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!