Posted tagged ‘training’

Obstacles

May 26, 2017

The local trails were closed April and most of May due to mud. We managed to get off property on weekends but had only the ring during the week on those rare days I got to the barn early enough to ride. Boring, except someone had set up and obstacle course!

Jigs was delighted. He loves balancing on the teeter totter and rocking back and forth. He seems to enjoy the obstacles.  Or, more likely they are a spot to stop and rest. I can confirm he REALLY likes the rest part.

We haven’t competed much in the last year or two. Too slow to be serious, we focused on trails.

Jigs did seem to enjoy playing with obstacles, so last weekend we hooked a ride with a friend and traveled 2 ½ hours south to an event in Connecticut.  The course was amazing, complete with a real suspension bridge. I did not expect Jigs to go over it but it was a non-event. He crossed it like a pro.

However, he balked at the teeter totter. Really? Who knows what goes through that sorrel head of his…

At the end of the day, we finished the course near perfect….knocking over the side pass pole was on me, not him.  Despite our slowness, we did well enough for fourth place.

I guess there will be a few more competitions in our Summer.

 

 

 

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Lazy Spring Fever

March 27, 2017

What winter? Barely any snow.  Then came March: snow, cold, more snow, cold. Rinse and Repeat.

The calendar tells me it is Spring; but step outside and it is not. The trails are a mix of mud, snow, and more mud. We are staying off so they are not damaged.

Did I mention I hate ring work?

But trotting in circles it is.

Ugg.

At least we got to trailer to an indoor with soft footing and protection from the wind.  More trotting and maybe a few strides of canter.

Me:  “I’m not sure….”

Jigs:  “Come on, you can do it…”

Me:   “Let’s slow down and practice trotting on the outside.”

Jigs:  “Canter?”

Me:   “Not yet”

Jigs:  “Please?”

Me:  “…..okay… canter”

Jigs:  “Do I have to?”

SIGH…..

Saddle Fit

January 19, 2017

Jigs has gotten “girthy” of late so I had the chiropractor/saddle fitter out yesterday.  A bit of adjustment to Jigs and shims, along with a new girth, and all should be well.  This saddle will work fine for both of us.

I ordered the Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief girth from Amazon. It should be here tomorrow, in time for the weekend.

He also recommended cantering more to build up Jigs’ hind end. And poles. (Jigs does drag his toes.) Poles are a game to Jigs- he has the mistaken belief that the object is to STEP on them.

Did I say I HATE ring work?

I did and the chiropractor suggested an alternative: hill work. Stopping on steep inclines will force him to use his hind quarters more. That we can do.

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Hi

 

Happy New Year

January 1, 2017

January 1, 2017. New Year’s Day.

2017 is a precipice that I can’t see across or below.

Distracted and without focus I stumbled through the ravine of 2016 with Jigs at my side. Together, we got through, despite my obsessions, despite my fears.

Worried about saddle fit we acquired our 6th in as many years. The last two saddles were too big for us both. This time I went with the western tree with English rigging. It’s much easier to girth up and puts even pressure on both sides. I think this one will work once I figure out the shims.

And because I’m impatient, I purchased the one in stock- the one with a blue suede seat and bling. So not me. But in November I threw caution to the wind and purchased a matching blue headstall. Jigs looks handsome in it. Add an orange pad and reins for hunting season and we are a color rush team. Getting outside of my comfort zone was healthy.

Jigs is 14 this year. We are entering our 8th year together. A long-term relationship takes commitment. We have our disagreements, but always have each other’s back. This fall was especially hard. Commitments kept me from the barn too many nights and some weekends. It is one of the reasons at this point in my life I must board.

Horses don’t care if they are ridden.  They are content if there is food, water, and good pasture. Do they notice when their humans are not around? Based on my own observations, I believe they do. When I’m away for an extended period, I hear barn tales of “naughty” Jigs. A few weeks ago, when I was unable to get to the barn for several days, Jigs let himself out of his stall and helped himself to a bale of hay. He tried to sneak back into his stall when the barn manager arrived. He knew.

And he knows the sound of my car. I often find him waiting for me at the gate while the other horses graze in the back of the field.  He will leave his herd and run to me when I call. And then there are those days when he is sleeping in the field and doesn’t get up when I go to collect him. It is comforting to think I am not considered a threat. I usually sit by and wait for his nap to be over. Why rush when the pasture is full of sun?

So, yes, it is mutual relationship, with give and take. Whatever is over the precipice, I cannot see now, but I am optimistic and full of hope for what is there.

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Turkey Trot Myles Standish State Forest

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.

“Please?”

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.

“JIGS….”

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.

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Of Troll Bridges and Poison Apples

October 28, 2013

Sunday Jigs and I competed in our second ACTHA ride of the year. It was well worth the 4:30 am wake up and long drive to Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire. (Thanks Carolyn for driving.)

Jigs was antsy when we arrived, spooking at nothing and breaking Angel’s lead rope.  Not a good start to the day.  I gave up the idea of riding in costume, even though we’d ridden in costume the weekend before.  I’m too old to play dress up anyway.

The troll bridge was obstacle one. You had to walk calmly to the middle of the bridge, which was over running water, stop, pause 5 seconds, and then calmly walk off.

Carolyn and Angel performed perfectly.

“Walk on Jigs… WALK, not trot… Whoa.”

Jigs, “What rimes with whoa? NO, not stopping.”

“WHOA,” I spun him around mid bridge and we stop stopped.

Sheepishly I smiled at the judge, “didn’t say which direction we needed to stop.”

Jigs and I scrambled off the bridge.

Obstacle two was a Halloween version of the Cowboy Curtain.  No issues.

The Poison Apple was the third obstacle. Jig did not get the Poison part.

The challenge was to accept the POISON apple from the Judge’s assistant, and drop it in a cauldron filled with water – a variant of the Frog Pond. You had 45 seconds to complete the challenge.

Jigs decided he wanted to EAT the POISON apple, nearly biting the assistant in the process. She told him no.

Disappointed, he noticed the small pumpkin marking the start line. A slightly larger POISON apple?  He tried to eat it.  A vision of him picking it up and dropping it in the cauldron floated in front of my eyes with the thought we would be disqualified.  Might have been worth it to see the Judge’s assistance reaction.

“It’s not an apple Jigs.”

We walked to the cauldron and I dropped the apple into it.  Jigs sighed. Lost opportunity.

“It was poison anyway Jigs,” I consoled him.

The rest of the ride went well.  It was a trick or treat ride with treats for horse and rider after each obstacle.  Jigs liked that part, though he thought he should get my treat as well. Jigs discovered it’s fun to pull a skeleton behind us… weighs less than a Christmas tree.

We did good enough for 4th place. Not bad although we didn’t score as well as the Spring ride (when we didn’t ribbon).  We have some stuff to work on…. especially stopping in the middle of bridges over running water.  Perhaps a trip to Douglas State Forest is in the near future…

Or maybe there really was a troll under the bridge and Jigs knew it.

Here he is enjoying lunch:

Jigs eating Lunch

“I’m starving…”

Presence

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.

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