Monday, August 29, 2011


First, I hope that Hurricane Irene's destructive nature wasn't too much of a problem for my East coast blogger friends and that you and yours are OK.


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.

Pam and Gem doing a posting trot.

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 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...


  1. I'm glad everything went so great! It's wonderful to be able to show your special horse to your family but it's even better when everything goes perfectly.

    And sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to help you realize that you can ride better than you think you can.

  2. I just think it's wonderful how far you and Gem have come so far. It must be a very rewarding experience. One I can only hope for. When I do finally get back on I know it will be like starting all over again, but that's the fun part right?.

  3. Sounds like a really good day for everyone involved! It is hard to believe you've only been riding for such a short time. You do indeed have a "gem" of a horse!

  4. What a fun day!! Isn't it nice when our less than perfect bodies are validated for being somewhat useful and fit? :) What a good boy Gem was too, congratulations on "raising" such a sweet horse!

  5. Well if that doesn't make you feel good I don't know what will :) Be proud of your riding, you've come a long way!

  6. You know, reading about your riding, you come across as someone who's comfortable & confident in the saddle (to me, anyway) I'm sure having such a gracious, charming boy helps ;o)
    And, way to go, scoring points for us round, middle-aged ladies!!
    Love that picture of the sky, so magical. xx

  7. That's awesome! What a great boost! We all knew you are a great rider! haha

  8. It's so easy to look up at other people and find them intimidating, but Gem obviously had other ideas and enjoyed showing off your skills together! Great stuff!

  9. Sounds like Gem was being a good boy :) I'm sure she thought you were a great rider,like you are :)

  10. What fun! Isn't it nice to be able to see your own skills in comparison to others?

  11. Good morning everyone!

    Cjay – I do enjoy showing Gem to people. :-) I agree with your statement about “fresh eyes”!

    Mary – I can’t put into words how rewarding this whole riding experience has been for me. You are going to love it.

    Kate –You have been following my progress for a while and I appreciate your ongoing support.

    Sarah – I have to admit it still brings a smile to my face thinking about my less than perfect body not letting me down. :-)

    Shannon – I felt really good. :-)

    Joy – I am comfortable in my own skin and would consider myself fairly confident. But, every once and a while.... :-) Re round, middle-aged pleasure!

    Minus Pride – I don’t know about being a great rider, but I am sure trying to work towards being one!!

    twohorses – Gem was a gentleman on Sunday. He’s not always so accommodating! I think he knew that I needed his support in showing to our visitor what we could do.

    Detroit Dog – Thanks!!

    Ruffles – Yes, thankfully he was being a very good boy!!

    Dreaming – My usual comparison is with those in my lesson whose skills are either equal or a little advanced to mine. So, yes, it was interesting to compare with someone else.

  12. I have to admit that I love showing my girls off. I've taught them some tricks on the ground, and they know how to "shake hands" and one of them will match my speed (trot walk) without a halter or any other aid other than my movement, which surprises people. We all need "reality checks" as riders when we realize that we may not be the best riders on the planet, but we're not the worst, either :)

  13. I'm so happy for you that everything went so well when you rode Gem. He sounds like he was a perfect gentleman for you and maybe he was showing off a little too. I'll bet he was relaxed when his girl got on and he knew what you wanted. Glad that you and Gem have clicked in such a short time.

  14. Fetlock - I am still chuckling over your opening statement of "...I love showing of my girls." My first thought was you meant YOUR "girls"! ;-) Your horses are amazing!! And, you are spot on...I may not be the best rider, but I am not the worst!

    GHM - There is something so weird about how he knows I need him to be good. He's is wonderful with every visitor I have had, every kid that has climbed on his back. He just likes giving me the business when we are in lesson. Funny, eh?

  15. That was such a heartwarming story to read. I'm so pleased for you that you were able to demonstrate your skills to someone who could really appreciate them. I can imagine how proud you must have felt - both of Gem and yourself. I felt proud of you just reading it!
    I'll get round to updating my exploits when I can get off this roller coaster life I'm living at the moment :o

  16. You had forgotten how far you had come for a moment there, hadn't you?! Use it or lose it thats the thing with riding... I was shocked at how hard it was to ride coming back to it I am sure Pam was too. Show off with pride, you have worked hard at it!!

  17. Jooles - so nice to hear from you! Appreciate your kind comments. Looking forward to your update.

    TCP - Yes, I have worked hard and thank you for recognizing it and reminding me. :-)

  18. You sound like your riding is going fab so glad you got a chance to show it off. Hope in another year or so I will be feeling as confident as you are sounding :)

  19. Hello JanLou! How was your riding trip to Spain? Hope you had fun. For some reason, I can't get into your blog.... :-(