Riding/Horses

Ditches and Water

Sunday morning dawned super foggy and humid. Gem sorta blinked at me when I grabbed her halter and led her out of her pasture. She had already been ridden three times last week which was a record high ever since Wyatt was born. Pre W, I rode three times a week regularly but that has dwindled since he was born. Anyway, she calmly loaded up with a sigh wondering what on earth I was up to.

Cross country courses are beautiful

What I was up to was a cross country schooling day with KC, her friend Paula on her gorgeous mare and Bette who was sans horse and likely regretted it once I talked her into climbing on Gemmie.

I knew going in I wasn’t likely to jump much. Windridge was built for competition not schooling and the jumps are beefy. Definitely too much for Gem and I right now, but I wasn’t going in order to get a bunch of jumps in. I wanted to play in the water mostly and hang out with some wonderful people. Having the horses at home is great, but is also isolating so any chance to ride with others is an opportunity I try not to miss.

Even when all the jumps make you want to pee yourself

My biggest question though was how Gem was going to warm up. Not only did she have friends around doing their own thing, but she had just had a baller jump lesson on Wednesday. Would she still be all squirrelly to the first few jumps? Yes. The answer was yes. She still looked hard and tried to stop but a solid foot in the ribs sent her over. I circled her around and she took it the next time like a normal horse.

She is getting really fit between all the flat work and jumping

I was really proud of how rideable she was in general. No shenanigans even when KC and Pilgrim scooted off to jump real things or when they took off cantering for their approach and we trotted around or stood watching. Gem stayed light in the bridle for me in her trotting and never once tried to scoot away or blast off. She also never spooked one single time. Even had we not done anything else all morning, it would have been a success.

But thankfully we actually did things too!

KC and Pilgrim upper left and Paula on Billie Jean lower right. I loved Paula’s mare so much I was tempted to plop her o my own trailer and take her home

After warming up, we headed to the water complex. The only other time I went cross country Gem was not so sure she agreed with the idea of trotting through the water. This time she took it like it wasn’t ever an issue. We trotted back and forth a bunch of times enjoying the cool water splashing up on both of us. The day was already getting pretty warm.

From there the group headed to the banks which were huge. I watched as Pilgrim attacked them like they barely existed. He is a really neat gelding and I can’t wait to see where KC and Pilgrim go from here. They both have the potential to go as far as she wants to.

Let’s see…after the banks we attempted to find something that Paula and I felt comfortable jumping. We tried heading over to some ramps and roll tops that seemed promising but up close they were too much for either of us. KC wandered off to have some fun and at that point I realized I was likely not going to do much more. The jumps were just too high for me, but there was unsuspecting Bette being our ground person. I asked if she would like to hop on Gem and tackle whatever she felt comfortable doing. I’ve never had the chance to see her ride, but I know she is a great rider and has so much more experience than I do. I figured she may as well do something with Gem since I was just sitting on her.

Bette getting to know Gem. 

Bette hopped up and um…I’m not sure she would elect to do so again, but she didn’t hop right back off two seconds later with a scowl either so that’s a win. I wasn’t very helpful either and basically told her “leg on makes her go faster on the flat so avoid it, but you need a lot of leg to jump”. Yup, solid advice 🙂

She worked Gem for a while trotting around trying to find that elusive soft feeling that I’ve fought to get for years. Gem was a little pissed that someone new was on her who didn’t know the Rules of Riding Gem. They managed to reach somewhat of a compromise eventually and headed over to play with the warm up fences. I felt a tiny bit better when Bette exclaimed that Gem was a very hard horse to ride. She is so wiggly and athletic that you really never know for sure where she will be from one stride to the next. She rode her very well and I’d let her on her any time. Not sure she would say yes though 😉

Playing around the warm up area. Bette took her over both cross rails and Gem was pretty good. A bit squirelly, but she went over. 

I felt bad at this point. KC was chilling with us newbies instead of off jumping and I didn’t want to hijack her schooling. I knew she had wanted to do some bank work too so after a bit we wandered over that way. I hung back and walked with Paula getting to know her as Bette super trotted off to catch up with KC. By the time I made it over Bette informed me that Gem now does ditches so it was my turn to climb back up and give it a go.

I was oddly not even that nervous. Once Gem decides she is up for it, I know nothing will stop her and all I need to do is not fall off. I watched KC and Pilgrim kill it over a little course of hanging log, starter cabin, BN cabin and then the ditch. They make it look easy!

Ditch!!! It was the nicest baby ditch too because it had the width but if she made an error she could have stepped in it and not killed us both. 

Then it was my turn and Gem hoped over the ditch like a pro and then promptly cantered all over the place afterward like we were both drunk. I did my patented “get elated you didn’t die going over and stop riding after” move and grinned like an idiot. Not good, but hey! I’m learning.

Once more over and everyone was done for the day. We walked back to the trailers and loaded up to go home. I think I only jumped four or five times, but that was fine with me. Gem was behaving calmly and relaxed the entire time no matter what the others were up to, she trotted through the water and took me over my first ditch. It was a success in my eyes!

A great group of ladies to be out on a Sunday morning with

12 thoughts on “Ditches and Water”

  1. I had so much fun! I hate that you felt bad, though, no one hijacked anything! We were there to have fun, get out with friends, and jump some stuff. I got to do exactly what I planned on- ditches he’s not familiar with, bank he’s not familiar with, water he’s not familiar with, with a few BN jumps sprinkled in to increase my own confidence in P. I thought you and Gem did great and KILLED that ditch! I’m going through helmet cam footage this AM because I know I watched you jump it and hopefully the camera caught it. If it did, I’ll send it to ya, along with anything else I find.

    Can’t wait until the next time!

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  2. I would ride Gem again in a heartbeat!!!! I really had a great time and when she’s good she’s awesome!!!! Thank you so much for letting me ride her!!!!! And we will have to have lots more outings… Chimi’s on the road to recovery so I think he’ll be back in action in a couple weeks 🙂

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  3. Woo that sounds like a great day!! Bummer there were so few inviting jumps but sounds like you still logged some great practice and experience participating in a group setting with horses all over the place doing everything! That’s basically exactly what Charlie’s first two or three xc outings looked like lol

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