My Husband's brother and sister-in-law spent the weekend with us. They were in town for a wedding. My sister-in-law, Pam, took riding/jumping lessons when she was a youngster. In fact, she took lessons until she was about 20 years of age. University, partying, and then working took precedence and riding was forgotten....for a while. When her daughter, Sandra, was about 10 years old, she decided to expose her to the magic. They took lessons together for a couple of years....until her daughter fell off and never got back on again. Apparently, it wasn't a bad fall, but enough to scare my niece. They stopped taking lessons. That was about 18 months ago. When Pam heard about Gem, she said that the next time she was in town she would love to meet him and perhaps take him for a spin.
Well, this weekend was "the next time". I was excited about her meeting Gem, but I was nervous at the same time. She's experienced, younger and petite; was I going to look like a flailing idiot next to Pam?
We were the only riders at the barn Sunday morning. Believe it or not, weather from Irene was paying a visit to Ontario and the winds were causing little mini tornado's in the sand around the barn. Pam signed the waiver and off we went to get my boy. I entered his turnout area - he was near the apple trees - and I called to him, asking him to come. And, he did! Pam was impressed that I didn't have to go get him. :-) After grooming, I let her hold his saddle to get an idea of the difference in weight between it and a hunter saddle. She was impressed that I was able to lift the saddle straight up and place it gently on Gem's back. When the bridle went on, she couldn't believe that there wasn't a nose band or throat latch and that there was only one ear hole.
The wind was swirling around us as we walked to the arena. Pam had no problem mounting Gem and was quite comfortable on him. I told her what his usual warm up was and off she went. I sat back and watched. I actually like watching someone else on Gem - it gives me an opportunity to see how he moves.
Pam struggled a bit with him pushing his shoulder towards the inside and his nose pointed outside. He does this regularly and I explained that pulsating the ring finger of her inside hand to get him to turn his nose inside, with the inside leg "on" usually works. She was a little unclear on the concept, which surprised me.
Before she tried to get him to a posting trot, she removed her sweater....yes, her face was flushed and she was starting to get a glow on. :-) Cantering was next and it only took two tries to get Gem going. It was after a couple of short canters, with her face red and with sweat across her brow, that she had had enough and said that she would like to see me ride. :-) She had been on Gem for a total of about 15 minutes.
Strangely, when I got on Gem I was relaxed. All of my anxiety had disappeared. I realized that Pam wasn't a "threat", she was just a regular rider.....like me.
Gem and I were working it! Perhaps I was showing off a bit. :-) Our jog/sitting trot was smooth. We actually did some side passes at a jog - we aren't consistent yet, but Gem is getting so much better crossing over and remaining straight. When we loped, we went all the way around the arena - I felt comfortable, I looked where I was going and my butt was in the saddle each and every time we loped. Gem has started relaxing he head when we lope. Instead of holding his head out and pulling on the reins, he has starting to lower his head and round his neck a bit. I am not sure if that is correct, but is certainly seems more relaxed to me and sure looks pretty from where I sit. :-) To cool down, Gem and I did some turns using neck reining and some side passes. I threw in some backing up for good measure. I was on Gem for about 30 minutes and he was basically a gentleman the whole time. I felt good.
When we were finished, Pam shared that she had never tried side passes and liked watching it. Then she said something that blew me away. She said that Gem and I worked well together and that I looked like I had been riding for much longer than 3 years! :-) Admittedly, I was very flattered that Pam said that my skills are more advanced that she thought they would be. But, I think I was even more pleased that this round middle-aged body of mine had better endurance than her younger, trainer body (yes, she has a trainer come to the house once a week)!! ;-)
The wind finally died down early Sunday evening and left the most beautiful sky...