I had a makeup lesson on Saturday. I have to say, I was a bit nervous! My lessons and riding have been sporadic because of the weather and it seems like forever since I had a formal lesson. LA knew I was a wee bit anxious, but once I settled into the saddle it all came back to me. :-) Gem was excellent and responsive. The number of times I had to ask twice was minimal, and really it was just me refamiliarizing myself with where the buttons are. LA had ridden him on Friday, so he was loose and his mind was in the right place. Our loping was pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. The two other students, who were new to me, said that Gem was beautiful and we looked good loping :-)
I was actually a bit stiff yesterday from lesson on Saturday! Wow, it sure doesn't take long for your body to forget....well, at least my body anyway. I went out to the stables late yesterday morning. His stall is at the very back of the barn. We sort of have this little routine now when I arrive. As I walk down the aisle, I watch the top of the stall divider, I say "Where is my beautiful boy? Where is he?" I can see his head come up and with his ears erect. I repeat, "Where is my beautiful boy?" and he quickly sticks his head out the top half of the stall door. When I get there, we sniff and blow at each other. We have a little chat and then I start hauling his tack and grooming supplies out of the tack room.
The ride yesterday was a bit of a non-event. There are two riders - mother and daughter - that have no manners when it comes to riding with others. I dislike riding with them. They aren't nasty, just self-absorbed and thoughtless. It was just the 3 of us in the arena, but I was only able to get up to a decent trot a couple of times. They were either loping all over the place or changing diagonal or stopping on the track to chat. At one point, the mother was loping large and the daughter was in the middle doing spinning and aggressive back up while I was trying to eek out a spot to do ANYTHING. Both of their horses are spooky, so every time snow came off the roof, they would jump. Oh, and the daughter has some weird ring tone on her cell phone. When it rang, it made ME jump along with her horse. What is with that? Aren't you supposed to have your phones turned off when you are in an arena??
We all basically dismounted at the same time. They went out ahead of me - I had to stay and do a little poop clean up. After the door was shut, I loosely looped Gem's reins around the saddle horn. I looked him in the eye and asked him to "wait". I then went and got the poop scooper and wheelbarrow and started my chore. I kept peeking at him to see what he was up to. He was interested in what I was doing, but he didn't move. I went up and down the arena and was finally able to put the wheelbarrow back. He continued watching me. I went and got my coat on (yes, I usually ride without a winter coat - yes, I am a nut), put the mounting stand back, and then turned and looked at him. He raised his head a little, looking straight at me. At this point, he had been standing in the middle of the arena for about 5 minutes. I outstretched my arms, wiggled my fingers and asked him to "come". He walked straight into my arms. GOOD BOY!!! I wrapped my arms around him and gave him big scratches. It was perfect.
This simple exercise of asking him to wait and then come was validation that our bond is getting stronger. He did it because he wanted to and, I would like to think, because he knew it would please me. :-) There have been a number of posts over the last few days about loving your horse. I loved him the moment I saw him. Absolutely. My Husband accepts that there is another man in my life. Gem obviously doesn't fall that easily...his love has to be earned. I am patient. I suspect that it will take some time still. However, based on the last couple of months and in particular this past weekend, I think he's starting to reciprocate. :-)
Happy Valentine's Day!