Tuesday, December 15, 2009


HE was named after a precious stone prior to becoming my companion. I felt that because HE was beginning a new life with me, HE should have a new name. I liked and appreciated the precious stone theme and decided that I would call my new friend, Gem:

Something that is valued for its beauty or perfection
A beloved
Held to be a perfect example
A treasure
Brilliant and precious as a piece of jewelry

This description fit the bill in my mind. :-)

The date of my first lesson riding Gem was approaching and I was getting nervous. To take my mind off of my anxiety, I did what I usually do. I went shopping! Funny how being around horses changes your priorities. In the olden days, I would have gone to my favourite shop and bought a couple of outfits for work or partying, or perhaps something sparkly. No longer the case....off to my local tack store I went! I purchased a summer weight pair of breeches (still could not find tummy control version), a beautiful LARGE bridle, 5 1/2” bit and a bright red saddle pad. I went to the hardware store and bought the highest rubber two-step stepping stool they had. My shopping therapy did not help, however.

Jean had moved over to my new place and was taking lessons with me. I was glad for the company. We had both taken one lesson already on school horses so LA could evaluate our skill level. The time had come to have my first lesson on Gem. During the 40 minute drive (rush hour traffic) out to the stables, I thought of a number of reasons why I shouldn’t ride him.

He’s still disoriented and still needs time to get used to his surroundings.
He’s too frisky from being in a stall part-time.
He’s not used to me yet.
He’s too excited about the other horses.
He needs his feet done.
The sun is shining.
He’s still furry.

LA suggested that we have our first couple of lessons in the arena, so that Gem would not be distracted by the other horses in the pasture. Tacking up was no problem. As we got to the open barn door, Gem pushed his way out. Are we going out?! Where are we going?! Whose going to be there?! I had a bit of a time getting him under control. As we opened the gate, he rushed me again causing me to stumble. He basically pushed or pulled me all the way down the lane to the arena. I had never experienced this before and had no clue how to handle it.

Time to get on. I pulled my new ladder over to him. It was still a reach for me to get my foot in the stirrup and I did have to assist myself by using my left hand to bend my knee even further. I was quite impressed that I was able to balance on one leg while standing on ladder. I was also impressed that I could actually bend my leg that much! He stood quietly as I mounted. I didn’t kick his rump as I swung my leg over. A good sign? My heart was pounding. My sports bra seemed too tight - OK, yes, it's always too tight. I don't think I was breathing. Being that high up gave you a whole new perspective. I could actually look down into the arena stalls, freaking out a couple of the horses. LA saw that I had no colour left in my face. Jean was given trotting exercises to do and LA came over and took hold of the reins near the bit and started walking me around the arena. We talked as she lead me around. I was relieved when our time was up. I swung my right leg over him, kicked out my left foot from the stirrup and started to slide down...and down...and down. There was a brief moment when I was gripping my saddle for dear life with my feet dangling, swishing around looking for solid ground.

That's pretty much how my first lesson went on Gem; I sat on him while LA walked me around the arena. It was also pretty much how my second lesson went.

What was I thinking.....?


  1. He is just beautiful! Sounds like he needs some ground work - which is my favorite part, actually. Can't wait to hear how it is going!

  2. Thank you! You are absolutely correct. He does need ground work. I have been working on it and will post an update soon!

  3. Really enjoying reading about your journey with this big guy. He's very handsome!

  4. Thanks Marissa! I enjoy your blog also!

  5. Gem is one of the most beautiful horses I have ever seen. You sound like you're approaching this relationship with good old common sense. Don't push it until you feel comfortable on him and only do what you feel you can and in no time you'll be trotting around all day without a care in the world.

  6. Thank you, GHM! Gem and I have the next 20 years together, so I am not in a rush. I want what's best for both of us and I want to get it right.