Sunday mid afternoon I had a thought. “I want to ride my horse”. Not a wholey atypical thought, but one that has not surfaced since November and even then it was weak.
Why? A host of factors really, but the major one was that following this thought the conversation in my head went thus:
I want to ride my horse. It is an 80 minute round trip. Plus time to tack and untack. And I only ride for like 45-60 minutes. And I have x,y, and z to still do today before the work week starts again. And it is a lot of time away front Wyatt and I don’t like that. Sigh. Really there isn’t enough time now anyway.
So when the thought struck me that I want to ride my horse I paused. Hmmm. All I have to do is walk inside, change and then get Gem. An hour ride will only take me an hour and and a half all said and done. It’s nice out, well minus the 40mph wind gusts, and sunny. Let’s do this!
In a whopping 5 minutes I found myself with lead rope in hand opening the pasture gate. Gem was on the far side of the pasture, but started walking towards me the moment she saw me. She met me half way and then walked happily out to the trailer.
I brushed her out, picked her hooves clean, ran my hands down each leg feeling for any new lumps or swelling, and then wrapped my arms around her neck in a massive hug as I breathed her scent in. Oh how I’ve missed my mare!
I decided on the dressage saddle since I’ve only ridden in it one time since buying it. I need a smaller girth and would love to add a half pad under the square one, but all in due time.
When it came time to bridle her, she shoved her head in with such force, such obvious glee that it surprised me. It appears as though Gem has missed our time riding as much as I have.
Then we walked to the hay field and I climbed aboard.
Right about that same time my brain shut off. I stared off at the huge space we had available and completely froze. I was rigid. Any guesses as to how Gem then acted?
After about 15 minutes of us getting nowhere but more and more nervous and frazzled, my brain decided to function again.
What was it I was working on last summer? Halt transitions! Get Gem focusing on me instead of anywhere and everywhere else.
After about 10 minutes of working on soft and semi immediate (we are a work in progress on this skill) halts using as little hand and as much seat and core as possible, Gem finally lowered her head and began to blow and chew. A sure sign that her brain has decided to function again as well.
With a more relaxed Gem under me I decided to ask for a slow and steady trot. I got what I expected: a strung out, giraffe style high energy with low impulsion trot. I was okay with it though and used it to work on asking her to come back to me while trying to use less and less intense aids to get there.
When she finally softened and gave me a circle in both directions of a lovely trot with head lowered (not on the bit or anything, we are far from that stage yet but this is still massive progress) and ears on me, I called it a day.
Gem does not do well with a drill sergeant on board and releasing her from work once she answers correctly always pays bigger dividends than ramming it home with repetition.
It was a great first ride at home, a great first ride back after 3 months off, and a kick in my pants to do it more often.