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December 30, 2012

Jitterbug's 2013 Resolutions For Your Human

Jitterbug has some 2013 goals set for her human. Photo by Dark Horse Photography.

After assessing my haul from Santa Hoss, one of my favorite holiday traditions is making my list of resolutions for the new year. 

(For my Human, obviously. I am already perfect.)

This is more of an editing process than a writing process, since her list of defects, forgotten goals, lazy avoidances and sadly untapped potential is longer than your average sheet of legal paper, and besides, I would rather opt for more festive wall decorations for my stall. Like poo.

In case you need inspiration for your Human’s list of New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would share mine with my readers.

1. Socialization. I’m afraid that my Human’s need to over-schedule herself and poor time management skills (2.5 hours of The Cutest Cats of YouTube? Really??) result in rushed, oddly-timed trips to the barn. I am concerned that my Human doesn’t get adequate opportunity to interact with others of her species on the farm, which is the only time I can really be sure she socializes.

To provide her with more opportunities to chat with others, I periodically like to feign an episode of Vague Illness or Phantom Lameness. When I feel she has been rushing through barn chores too often, I will spend an evening with my head hung low, eyes droopy, appearing to contemplate fatalism, or a longe line session sprinkled with sudden head-bobs and pained ear twitches. I can occasionally fake runny eyes if I’ve watched Black Beauty recently, and if I’m really dedicated, a good hoof abscess. 

This is usually enough to send my gasping Human scurrying off to borrow someone’s thermometer, bran mash mix, Epsom salts, or advice, and voila—she has friends. Kind of.

2. Work ethic. I’m a little tired of hearing, "We can’t buy you an all-Baker blanket wardrobe or cookies flown in from that little French bakery you like because I don’t make $1.8 million a year." I believe that everyone should have something to aspire to in life, and keeping me adequately clothed and treated should be a great motivation for finally hitting that higher tax bracket in 2013.

Granted, the level of control I have over her career is fairly tenuous, but I do have one little trick for putting the pressure on. I have learned, thanks to the frustrated grunts and aerobics she does in the aisle, that most of our barn is a dead zone for cell phones, and the only place she can receive the dreaded barrage of emails, texts and voicemails is the tack room.

If I feel she’s dawdling too much when she could be typing madly away, earning me money, I find excuses for her to fetch things from her tack trunk. “Could that smell from my hoof be thrush?” (Cue worried expression.) “I sure got mud everywhere today, didn’t I?” “I don’t think this girth fits.” The list of excuses, and unread work emails, goes on and on.

This tactic may appear to be directly in conflict with Resolution #1. This is in no way my problem.

3. Get in shape, you lazy lug. As I detailed in my premiere column, I have a variety of tactics for getting my gelatinous student to lose some jiggle. 

This year though, I’d like her to get more toned as well. I’ve spent all fall practicing my extremely subtle lean on the bit (which is my version of being “on the bit.” I plan on being a pioneer in successfully combining artistic interpretation with dressage). This eventually results in my rider holding up about half of my 1,30—ah…1,100 pounds.

My hope is that by the time my two-legged trainee grunts her way back in the saddle this spring, she will be fooled into thinking her biceps are overcooked spaghetti noodles (not that far from the truth) and will hit the gym just to keep up with me.

4. Become more artistic. I’ve always been ashamed by my Human’s relative lack of creativity. I fear, based on her wardrobe, that she may be partially colorblind and is oblivious to patterns, post-2001 aesthetics, or the general concept of “mixing things up.”

My solution to this is a little trick I started with her when we first began groundwork together. 

I can remember it now—I kept encouraging her to break free from her fear of longing at a gallop on a 10-meter circle. I can just see her buggy eyes as she assessed whether the arm holding the longe line was dislocated or just sore. Ah, what humble beginnings we have. 

Anyway. 

I used to mix things up by declining to travel in a boring old circle around her—I drew her a circle in the arena footing as Salvador Dali would have done. I also demonstrated semi-circles, squares, triangles and, once, a pentagon. I was trying to open my Human’s mind to new shapes and surrealism, and while that was too big a lesson for 2008, I think 2013 is the perfect time for another try.

If you have any questions, topics, or rants you’d like addressed about your Human in 2013, write to me at JitterbugCOTH@gmail.com!

Jitterbug is a Michigan-bred Professional Draft Cross who skillfully avoided saddles until age 5. Since then, she has been lauded for her talent in successfully managing humans while training herself to one day achieve eventing greatness. Jitter and her human live in central Kentucky. Photo by Dark Horse Photography.

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