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I can't believe how time has flown. My beautiful boy turned 12 on October 17th. We have been partners for over 3 years now. This past weekend, I hosted his annual birthday trail ride. Seven brave souls rode in some rather nasty weather (Sandy was just starting to make her presence known to us). It was cold and raining, with high winds at times, but the weather did not dampen our spirits. I did wear my Confidence Vest over my 3 layers of clothing, topped by my waterproof windbreaker. I looked like the Michelin Man. :-) I love my windbreaker....it has two pull tabs. Once you zip it up you can unzip it from the bottom, allowing the bottom of the jacket to spread out around you so that when you are sitting the jacket doesn't end up all bunched up around your midriff.
|Adjusting my reins. Doesn't the birthday boy look great?!|
The horses have lost their shiny sleek summer coats. Gem's velvety winter coat is coming in nicely. At this point though, it doesn't seem as fuzzy as last year and I wonder, based on our drought conditions this past summer, if that is a sign that our winter is going to be mild.
We mostly just poked along, gabbing. There was the occasional trot through some of the wider paths in the old orchard. Now that I am not micro-managing Gem (as much!) out on the trails and learning to let him do his job, he is more relaxed and is enjoying the trails more. I have had time to really observe Gem and have found out some cool stuff about my boy.
- I have found out that he actually like to be up front, leading if he can. This does not surprise me. When he has been tried out with the herd, he becomes quite dominate. He likes to be the leader.....and perhaps have a job? He's OK if someone is in front of him, although I do have to keep him in check from pushing them and walking right up their butt. The only horse that he is really comfortable with having in front of him is DH, who is the boss of him when they are turned out together.
|Gem and I leading the others to the next field.|
- He is quite content walking, which he does with purpose. I swear he could walk forever, which is characteristic of his breed. He never seems to tire. Sometimes we end up ahead of everyone else because his strides are so much bigger. :-)
- He really likes to look around. With having a tight grip on the reins all the time in the past, I guess he really didn't have a chance to see what was going. Now he takes an interest in his surroundings and I like seeing his ears perk up. He does not spook when a chipmunk or squirrel run in front of him. Wild turkeys? Doesn't bat an eye. I think he likes the forest. I find it fascinating how acute his hearing and sight are. He heard a horse from the herd in the forest minutes before we actually came upon him. I am not sure why, but he particularly likes watching the golfers play through or drive around on their carts on the course next to LA's property.
|In the forest, golf course on the left and DH in front of us.|
- He's getting way better in mud! In fact, I am the one that has to learn to calm down. :-) DH's Mom has reminded me to hum when she sees me start to tense up.
Gem started to get a bit antsy obviously, seeing everyone take off in front of him. I did my best to calm him and get my heart rate down. :-) In retrospect, what I should have done was walk him in small circles to get his brain back instead of trying to make him wait. The young lady's horse got just a bit too familiar with Gem and he bucked. It was a straight up and down buck. Luckily, I had my free hand positioned palm down on the horn instead of gripping it. LA told me about this little trick. With your palm on top of the horn, you simply push down on the horn to help keep your balance in the saddle. If you position your hand around the horn and grip it, your arm will follow the movement of the saddle and you can actually be pulled out of it. Her trick worked; my butt wasn't far from the seat during the buck and my feet did not leave the stirrups. :-)
After our trail ride, we retired to the lounge in the arena. A couple of other riders, who had opted not go out on the trails because of the rain, joined us along with LA and her mother. We all chowed down on awesome chili, bread, chips, cookies and cake, with beer and soft drinks to wash it all down. Gem got special homemade sweet feed treats. :-) I had everyone who actually went out on the trails put their names against a number (1 to 10) on the whiteboard. I had a bag of horse treats in my car that I had written a number on prior to coming to the barn and whoever matched that number got the bag. It just so happened that it was DH's Mom who won! It was a great afternoon.
I needed a hot bath when I got home to warm me up. After that, I threw a blanket in the dryer on high heat for 5 minutes and then wrapped myself in its warmth as I stretched out on the couch and settled in for an episode of Murdoch Mysteries. What a great way to end the day. :-) Thanks for having a birthday, Gem!