Gotta make this next one positive! Gem and I have come a long way together. Part of me wishes I had media from back at the start, but mostly I am glad there is no proof of it. Still, there have been a lot of wonderful times over the years. Here are my favorite five:
5.) The Day It All Clicked. I don’t have any media to share of this and only a vague sense of when it occurred. It was the spring of 2011 in WI. I had just spent that entire, very long and very cold, first winter working in the tiny indoor on Gem cantering without bucking, kicking or falling over. For months I taught her to go on voice command alone starting on the lunge and finally getting back in the saddle. From there it was adding back in the leg. One day, just as the outdoor arena was beginning the thaw, I asked her to canter by sitting deep and applying my outside leg and she transitioned up to canter without any issue at all. I was so elated that all the hard work and patience had paid off in the end. It felt like we were finally on the same page and working together.
4.) Green Creek Hounds Hunter Pace 2016. It is no secret – I adore the local hunter pace series. One in particular was special – Green Creek Hounds spring ride. Gem was in a particularly fine mood and thanks to all the preceding paces and our rigorous training schedule for the 100 mile ride the next month, she was also in tip top condition. The trails were gorgeous, but one section in particular stands out. We had spent the first half of the pace wandering through the forest and skirting picturesque farms with mountain views. After the hold, we entered what I could only describe as a Fairy Forest: the spring undergrowth was coming in neon green with trees sprouting from the moist and rich soil. I still can feel the awe I had riding through this secret Eden. That trail led to a large open lane and Gem felt like she was floating above the ground as we cantered. It was magical.
3.) La Rivier Horse Park. Back in WI, there were three main trail systems we rode with some frequency. La Rivier was in Praire Du Chien and was about 3 hours away. We only rode there a few times due to the distance. The leaves were turning brilliant colors against a bright blue, clear sky. We climbed our way up from the parking area and turned on to a different set of trails from our prior explorations. This trail put us out onto a large meadow and Gem and Pete were allowed to gallop down it. For some reason, Gem decided she needed to race and Dusty held Pete back so we could pass. It was the first time I ever was brave enough to canter Gem in the lead down a big open field. She flew over the land and by the end we were both breathing hard and very proud of ourselves. We had hoped to make it back again before we left, but I am glad we didn’t. That day will always rank among the best I’ve had with her.
2.) Full Gallop Farm CT. The entire experience, from leaving and returning same day to the atmosphere and friendly attitudes of the participants to the actual rides Gem gave me and the overall 4th place finish, was wonderful. Full Gallop Farm CT: Dressage Full Gallop Farm CT: Stadium
1.) Biltmore 100. No need to rehash this again, but if you haven’t read the ride story you can find it here. It was without a doubt the single best thing I have ever done with Gem and will be hard to beat.