"All of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon - instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today"
- Dale Carnegie
And we are finally caught up to present day!
Gem and Pete have settled in pretty well. They were split up (sadly) about 3 weeks after being here into their own male and female herds. Gem is in a pasture with 4 other mares and has about 15 acres to roam, mostly grass with trees scattered around for protection. Pete is in with, I think, 6 other geldings in a pasture about the same size. They get brought in for "grain" at night - just a tiny handful to get some supplements (grass balancer) into them. They have filled out well and are borderline portly again. In fact, Pete has been brought into the dry lot 3 nights a week to prevent grazing and getting fat. I think the large area and the fact that she is out basically 24/7 has made her braver. Or maybe it is just wishful thinking.
I get out to the barn 2 weeknights after W goes to bed at 7 and Sunday morning. The hubs has been getting out on Sunday as well, but will be going a weeknight now as we prepare for our next outing. I've been really easy on Gem thus far. It's been way more hot and humid than she was used to up north. I was pulling her out of the pasture lathered in sweat and would brush her and give her a cool shower and put her back out. When I have ridden it has been light work and short periods only. I did go jogging with her which helped get her legs moving and let her see all the new areas with me on foot. My lunge line broke though, so that has been put on hold for now. I like using the lunge versus lead rope for two reasons 1) it gives her more room without stepping on me and 2) if she is particularly bad I can lunge her to get her refocused.
They have a nice outdoor arena with trees and jumps which helps me a lot. In a big open area I tend to lose focus and let Gem get away with a lot she shouldn't. Who cares if she cuts the corner or goes in the middle? We are just going around the circle again. With obstacles I can more clearly have goals: we will trot between the tree and the jump, then turn left and go over the second jump and canter to the other tree which we will go on the outside of etc.... It keeps me focused and forces me to ride better and with a purpose. The only problem is that 7pm is a busy lesson time, so the arena tends to be busy which I why I am working with her in the grassy field next to it.
I got a great 1 hour conditioning ride on her the other day. It was mostly trot and canter with jumping and short walk breaks. She was great until the last 10 minutes when she got tired. Man, is she out of shape! It won't take long though and she will be back. The great thing about Gem is that she holds onto fitness really well. Once conditioned she doesn't need a ton of maintenance.
I need trails and I need time. Currently my plan is to ride in the arena or around the "trails" at the barn 2 weeknights and hopefully trailer to the real trails on the weekend. I have a year to get her 50 mile ready and this should be doable barring any unforeseen happenings. I don't want to miss time with W but I'm thinking I can head out early enough that it won't matter or that the hubs can bring him hiking while I ride. We will see how it goes. I am debating moving them to a different barn as well. I like where we are enough. It is so close to home. But it lacks real trails so I'm spending time in the arena. If I moved to a place near the trails, I would have 30+ minute drive every time, but have almost unlimited miles to condition on. It's probably six of one half a dozen of another. Time wasted driving on an already tight schedule and with the days getting shorter, my access to trails will be limited to weekends anyway. For now we are staying put, but we will see what the future brings.