Well, Gem and I are back in weekly lessons. So far, so good! I think we both needed a break from the running around in circles routine. I feel so much better about my riding! I think this year is going to be our year. :-)
The weird weather of late has made the terrain for our trail rides interesting....lots of mud one day and completely dry the next. High winds have ripped all remaining leaves from the trees, changing how everything looks. Some large branches and a tree have fallen in the forest, forcing a change in the route we normally would take. Gem and I now regularly lead the trail rides. His strides are so much larger than the other horses, I would always be adjusting his speed and in spite of that, he would end up with his nose where it shouldn't be. :-) It's more relaxed with him leading.
The Sunday before last was a gorgeous day. A few others joined DH's Mom and I out on the trails. It was muddy! I will say that my anxiety level raised a bit when I saw just how muddy it was in places. But, I took deep breaths and focused on where we were going. Gem was great. I am not going to say that he didn't try to go into the shrubs to avoid the mud, but I did gently restrict him from going too wide around the mud. :-) He and I have got to learn to deal with the dreaded mud, right?
DH's Mom and I were leading the group, with DH in front of Gem and the others quite a ways back, gabbing. Gem, DH and I saw the mature buck at the same time - if my ears could have stood forward and erect, they would have! :-) The buck bounded across the trail in front of us. As he did, DH and Gem did a little tuck of their butts and stopped; equivalent to a little teensy tiny sliding stop kind of motion, I'd say. DH's Mom, who did not see the buck, turned around and asked me what DH slipped on! The buck stood a little ways away from us, watching. He was so well camouflaged, that only one of the others in our group could see him! I was very thankful that neither DH, Gem or I freaked out. :-)
That same ride, we met up with a few of the young ladies on their horses playing tag in the field. Gem and I were leading and coming up to the opening of another field when all of a sudden I heard thundering hooves coming up from behind me. One of the young ladies horses appeared to my right about 30 feet away at a gallop and jumped over a crumpled portion of the rock wall to join the herd at the feeding station. I could feel Gem start to power up. You know what I did?? I actually sat back in my seat, created a slight tension on the reins and told him "easy". I then turned him towards the wall bordering the golf course, did a 1/2 circle and walked back to my group. I was so pleased with myself!! Apparently, one of the young ladies was riding bareback and decided she had had enough; she dismounted, pulled the headstall off and then smacked her horse's butt with one of the reins to get her to move. WTH?! Geez. Apparently, Gem wasn't the only horse that reacted to the crazy galloping. DH's Mom explained to me later that when a horse takes off like that, other horses interpret it as danger and that they should run, too. I am glad that Gem didn't. :-)
|Gem eating my helmet after our ride||.|
These experiences over the last couple of weeks have helped me realize how trustworthy Gem is. Instead of approaching trail riding as an accident waiting to happen, I have started to relax. Each time he reacts in a sane way to a "different" situation, my confidence grows in him....and in me. I like it!! My goal of loping in the small field and perhaps going out on my own is within reach....I can feel it! :-)