Friday, February 1, 2013

Follow My Lead

I have seen Gem twice this week.  Both times I rode in the arena because of the frigid temperatures.  

The first ride (Sunday),  I was a bit anxious.  I hadn't ridden Gem in a week at that point.  But to be honest, it had been an exhausting few days with my mother and seeing to her needs and I had nothing left to give.   Gem gave me a little attitude when I was getting him ready, so I was expecting him to be frisky.  Reduced turnout time due to bad weather was probably a factor.  I felt very tired as I walked him up the lane to the arena. Gem was nickering and prancing a bit and I was not looking forward to having to convince him to behave.  But, something strange happened.  As I positioned him next to the mounting block and asked him to stand, his eyes softened.  He stood nicely as I mounted, and waited patiently until I asked him to walk on.  And, that's what we did for most of our time together; just walking, doing squares, circles and some bending.  He was very well behaved.... and kind.  The reins were relaxed and his head was low.  Whatever worry I had about him being frisky vanished and I let my mind clear.  I felt my body start to relax and the pinched look on my face disappeared.  It was...... a great ride.  Could it be that he realized how emotionally and physically drained I was?  Did he see it in how I walked to the arena?  Could he have heard it in my voice?  He just seemed to know what I needed out of that ride.

It was bitter tonight and when I arrived at the barn, my headlights reflected off of the solid ice that covered the lane.  Great.  You see, we had +10C earlier in the week (I know!! Crazy!!), which melted a ton of snow, followed by rain and then the temperatures plummeted again.  Lesson was cancelled this week due to the insane weather.  LA had a truck load of fine gravel dumped on the lane and around the barn.  Thank goodness!  Walking would have been treacherous without it.  However, a horse slipped this morning on the icy pathway to the turnout areas, and fell.  He wasn't hurt, but LA ordered another truckload of the gravel and had it distributed along the paths this afternoon to help the horses maintain their footing.

My frame of mind was much better tonight as I got Gem ready.  I had had a very productive week at work and had ended the work week on a good note. I was looking forward to riding, even if it was just going to be walking in the arena due to the low temperature.  As I opened the gate leading to the lane, Gem stopped.  His head was up, ears forward and there was a bit of anxiousness around his eyes.  I asked him to walk on and he refused.  I spoke quietly.  Gem lowered his head and started sniffing and examining the icy road.  Ah, he was nervous about the ice!  Perhaps news had spread amongst the other horses of the mishap that one of their turnout mates had experienced on the ice.  :-)

I tried to reassure Gem that it was OK.  I asked him to walk on.  He was hesitant.  He took a step, but stopped, again lowering his head checking the ice.  He took another few steps, walking beside me but stopped again.  Then, instead of walking beside me, he moved behind me. With a little encouragement, he continued to walk behind me all the way to the arena.  Perhaps he felt that if I could walk safely following a certain path down the lane, then he was going to follow in my footsteps.  He trusted me to take care of him.

It was another good, relaxing ride.  We walked around the arena with DH's Mom for about 1/2 an hour before the cold took it's toll.  Gem was relaxed and his straight lines and turns were very good.  After a sniff of the ice when we left the arena, he followed me back up the lane to the barn.   And for a horse that doesn't appreciate displays of affection, he allowed me to hug him to my hearts content when he was in the cross-ties - he usually get fidgety when I do this.

I feel there has been a subtle shift in our relationship.  Even though these two rides were not "busy" physically, Gem and I seemed to have moved up a notch in trusting and understanding what the other needs.   Yes, it really has been a good week.  :-)

26 comments:

  1. Awww! That is so beautiful! Gem sounds like a very sensitive horse...very attuned to you and your feelings/emotions. I like that he takes such good care of you when you're on his back, but expects you to return the favor. What a great horse.

    ~Lisa

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  2. Lovely when that happens - it feels so good!

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    1. It does feel good. I think I am finally getting it. :-)

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  3. Sounds good and it was an awful week for the weather.

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    1. It was a roller-coaster ride for weather this week!

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  4. Gem is so sweet. I think he could sense your inner emotions the first time you rode and since he loves you he was trying to make it better for you somehow. Also following you on the ice makes it sound like he trusts you to look after him. So glad you got to ride even with the icy temps and icy ground. If you felt the subtle shift in your relationship I'm sure it was there. Glad you got to spend time with your boy.

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    1. He can be a PITA sometimes, but when stuff like this happens, I am reminded of how really lucky I am. :-)

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  5. An excellent week! I firmly believe that they know our moods and needs and adjust accordingly. I love the bond you two further cemented this week.

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    1. Thanks, Annette! Horses really are such sensitive creatures, aren't they?

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  6. I hope the horse who fell on the ice is ok. I used to have Minnie in livery before I was able to bring her home, and she fell when one of the yard assistents led her out onto an iced over yard. She seemed ok, so nobody told me, and she was therefore not checked by a vet. Unfortunately, it turned out Minnie was not ok and I'm still dealing with the legacy of that fall.

    You and Gem looked after each other this week, he is as aware of your body language as you are of his. True partnership!

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    1. The horse that fell is fine, not to worry! You are right - body language played a bit part in our communications. :-)

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  7. Sounds like Gem needed you as much as you needed him. Wonderful!

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    1. I guess we really did need each other. :-)

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  8. Yay for some great rides. How cool that you and Gem are starting to trust each other. It sounds like your developing a great bond together.

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    1. Thanks, Ruffles. Finally....I think the connection is solidifying! :-)

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  9. Ahhhhh sounds great. I think you guys are REALLY bonded. Well done Wolfie, Here is for wishing you another great week. xxx

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  10. Loved your Post and the bond that the two of you have established. (To me) the bond is the icing on the cake. :)

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  11. Good boy, Gem!
    How nice that he knew what you needed. What a good horse.

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    1. He is a good horse, isn't he. Love him. :-)

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  12. Lovely post, almost magical reading how your relationship with Gem keeps getting better ... always makes me smile. It must be one heck of a fab feeling, knowing you have each other's trust, and that he knows to look after you now :D
    Be careful and stay safe.

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    1. Hi Joy! We are getting there! LA commented at lesson this week that he's showing more respect for me, too. :-)

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  13. It's great to hear that your bond with Gem just keeps getting better and better. I know what you mean about the ice, it's been like a skating rink out at our stable. But Gem's a smart boy, he knows to take it slow and look to you for leadership.

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    1. Thanks, Cjay. We are getting hit with another storm today. Lots of snow. But, I prefer the snow to the freezing temperatures!

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