LA rides Gem for me once a week. He's smart and she knows that he gets bored with repetition, so she mixes it up for him. Every once and a while she will take him on the trails. This serves two purposes; gives Gem a break from the usual routine and it also keeps him familiar with the trails so that there are no surprises when I take him out. LA took Gem out on a trail ride yesterday. It was his first time out this season, so I appreciated that he was already familiar with the snowy trails. LA said he was absolutely fearless. He did everything that she asked him to do and helped break some new trails. That's my boy!!
So, off we went today. As usual, I was a bit nervous as we started out, but I kept reminding myself to take a deep breath and relax into the saddle. LA asked that we keep some contact on the reins. There is a small family of deer on site and they occasionally walk out of the bushes, spooking horses.
Gem was fantastic. He walked through the forest with ease, occasionally grabbing at branches. You know after a heavy snow how everything seems muffled? That's what it was like. It was so quiet and peaceful. My collar, neck warmer and helmet cover managed to keep the snow-laden branches from depositing their load down my back as we walked through narrow paths. Mel and Chris were not always so lucky. :-)
My goodness, what furry ears you have!
When we came to the first first field after going through the forest area, LA suggested that we do a nice easy jog. Yep, my heart started to quicken, but I was game. LA started off with Mel behind her. I cued Gem and he bounced into a lovely lope...not what I asked for!! Easy! Easy! He responded immediately. Good boy! There were many opportunities to jog while we were out. As you know, under normal circumstances, I usually don't do anything faster than a walk, if I can help it. But, my new riding friends were used to going a bit faster and I didn't want to ruin their ride. They were my motivation. :-) So, every time an opportunity presented itself, I took it. And, I loved it! Gem was smooth and alert. He was enjoying himself. :-) I have to admit that I was quite pleased with myself for bumping it up a notch. It actually did a lot for my confidence.
I had a fantastic ride. Gem was so good and it's rides like the one I had this afternoon where I can feel how much better we are becoming at trusting each other. Mel and Chris were a bit cold by the time we were heading back in. I was grateful that I was wearing my heavier jacket and my snow pants. Last year about this time, I was a bit traumatized looking for winter wear. But, I persevered and have found an ensemble that works. OK, OK....it may not work as a flattering fashion statement, but it works from a warmth perspective. :-)
What was I thinking....?