There was a swampy area that we just couldn't walk through, so we cut back up into the forest, into a less popular area. There were obstacles - mud, rocks, saplings, low branches - and at one point, we became sort of trapped. The recent high winds had taken down a bunch of branches and a large one now blocked our way. It was too tight to turn around, so I asked Gem to go forward and left it to him to decide what he needed to do. I trusted that he would get us through, and he did! He carefully picked his way over the branches and led us out.
* * * * *Gem turned 11 on October 17th! I can't believe how times flies. Gem and I get teased a lot about his birth date. I am told that his birth was probably an "oops-ie". If that's the case, I am grateful for this particular mistake. :-) I posted a notice on the barn bulletin board asking that anyone interested in participating in a birthday trail ride be saddled up for 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Eleven of us went out! Four of those that went out were new boarders.
It was cloudy, but temps were decent. We walked through the brush, into the forest and across the open fields. For most of the ride, Gem and I and DH and his mom were leading. This was for two reasons; DH's mom knows all the trails and the trails that we took, particularly in the forest, needed to be wide/tall enough for Gem. :-) There is one incline that whether you are going up or going down, it can be a bit of a challenge. We are not talking a Man from Snowy River incline, but it's enough that it can unseat an unprepared rider. It's also rocky. DH's mom has had to coach/calm me up and down this incline on a couple of occasions. Sunday, DH started to slide down the incline and his mom opted to take him through the bush. I yelled a "slippery!" warning back to the others. I gave Gem rein and asked him to move forward, leaving the option open to go into the bush if he started to slip. Gem didn't hesitate and carefully picked his way through the rocks and down the slope. :-) DH's mom yelled "awesome!" when we got to the bottom. Another confidence/trust boosting incident for Gem and I.
Trail riding is what he did in his previous life. Coming to live with me and spending a great deal of time in a lesson environment was a huge adjustment for him. But, I think the fact that he has not become a bitter, grumpy horse because of this change in his lifestyle shows a great strength of character and work ethic ....oh, and how much patience he has! :-) There have been some frustrations in lesson, for sure. Sometimes I feel that I am never going to get it. But, it's important to me to learn how to communicate with him properly and I am looking forward to when we both understand how and why I am asking him to do things.
My confidence level is getting better all the time when it comes to trail riding. I now realize that Gem knows what he's doing. :-) There were a few times that we actually jogged ahead of everyone and we loped a bit! Crazy, eh?! Could he have known that the ride was in his honour?? His winter coat is coming in and he looks quite magnificent, if I do say so myself. :-) We were out for just over an hour. I gave my boy lots of loving and extra treats while I was untacking him. Then, my trail riding buddies and I met in the bunkhouse, which was nice and toasty warm; LA's mother had started up the wood stove while we were out. I served up carrot cake, chips, soft drinks and beer. It was a lovely way to get to know the new boarders and part of a lovely memory of Gem's birthday.