Thursday, November 1, 2012

Twelve!

 Hope my blogger friends on the east coast have not been impacted too much by Sandy and that everyone is safe!

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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.
At one point during the trail ride, my friends decided to lope across a field.  I knew this was eventually going to happen (hence the Confidence Vest) and my anxiety shot up through the roof.  Every time I have fallen off, it's been out on the trails at a lope.  I held back.  One of the young ladies asked if I needed her to stay with me  (God bless her!)...yes, please!  
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! 


24 comments:

  1. Happy birthday to a wonderful boy!

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  2. Happy Birthday Gem! What a wonderful day you all had, love the photo's, happy horses!

    I have to try your blanket tip, sounds like just the thing when you come home wet and cold :)

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    1. Thanks, Sandra! I discovered the heated blanket trick when my small, old dog was finding our winters hard to manage. I would throw her blanket in the dryer to warm it up while she was outside doing her business. She would come in shivering and I would wrap her up in it. She would immediately stop shivering and fall asleep in my arms. I figured if it felt good for her, then I was going to try it for myself. It is wonderful to be completely enveloped in warmth after coming in from the cold. :-)

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  3. Happy Birthday Gem! Sounds like a great day.

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  4. Happy Birthday to Gem! Looks like a great way to celebrate a great birthday.

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  5. Happy 12th to Gem! Your birthday celebration sounds like it was a blast. :D

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    1. So good to hear from you! Sandy couldn't keep you down. :-)

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  6. Happy Birthday, Gem! Sounds like a great way to spend the big day.

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    1. It's always fun when you get together with friends. :-)

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  7. Great Birthday for you and for Gem!

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  8. BTW, thanks for that part about the zipper zipping up. It's always frustrated me because I couldn't figure out why they do that --- now I know!

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  9. Happy Birthday Gem! You and Gem sound like you had a great day. Love the pictures. Looks like there are really nice places to ride by the stable. The party sounds wonderful too, bet everyone had a good time.

    Like the whole warm blanket idea. Good thinking. My daughter J. is always cold so for a quick warm me up she will take the hair dryer and put it under her shirt and warm up that way. I like your way better, seems like it would last longer. Glad you and Gem and all his friends had such a great time.

    Update on how we're fairing after Sandy: Still no power, no phone, no tv, no internet etc. The good news is that they finally cleared the trees blocking our driveway so as of this morning we can use the driveway to get out of here. Hoping they'll have the power on by Monday. Hope you and Gem have great rides again this weekend.

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    1. Good to hear from you, GHM! The warmed blanket is the way to go! Hope you are back up and running sooner rather than later. I would feel so claustrophobic not being able to get out of the house.....glad they they cleared the trees away.

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  10. Happy Birthday Gem!!! He's looking even more gorgeous! Glad you had a great day out with him, love the pictures and the cool stuff you've found out about him, thanks for sharing :D Sounds like the party was awesome too.
    Love the blanket-in-dryer idea; I always put my bath towel on the radiator so its lovely and toasty when I get out of the shower :D
    Have a great weekend! xx

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    1. Thanks, Joy. Ooooohhh, I am so jealous that you can put your towel on the rad..... :-)

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  11. I'm so glad that you and Gem can enjoy trail riding together. As you've said, you find out so many things about your horse on a trail that you'd never know in a ring or arena. I also think it helps you build a closer, more trusting relationship with your horse :)

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  12. I am appreciating him more and more each time we go out. :-)

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  13. What a great birthday for you and Gem! I think 12 is just about prime for horses. I kinda liked being 12, too!

    He reminds me in personality and preferences of my first horse, Jacskon, who also loved to be in front. His whole stance and gait would change when he was first and I so loved the view between his black tipped ears.

    THanks for sharing Gem's birthday with us!

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    1. Nice to hear from you! I, too, have seen Gem's demeanour change when he is up front. It's like his chest sticks out more. :-)

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