Having spent the majority of my entire 31 (nearly 32) years on this planet in the cold regions of the North, the notion of wearing too much clothing in February is novel to me.
I hadn't been on Gemmie in 2 weeks!!! Ouch! That needs to be remedied, but anyway....Saturday was the hubby's birthday and he worked in the morning so Saturday was out. Sunday was another hunter pace at FENCE and I toyed with the idea of going solo so that we wouldn't need a babysitter or to pay two entrance fees, but we decided not to and I am sure glad we did. For numerous reasons. Please excuse the seemingly haphazard way I tell the story since things overlap.
First, a friend texted me asking if she could bring her granddaughter out to ride Gemmie a bit. She is 9 and obsessed with horses (as any 9 year old should be :) and Gem does very well with children, so I happily agreed. We planned to meet at 1 and I headed out to the barn at 12 so I could get on her for a bit first. The morning was overcast, chilly and misty and it was February, so I put on my riding pants (thankfully not my fleece lined winter ones), a t-shirt, a long sleeved shirt, a fleece vest and a fleece barn coat and headed outside. And promptly got smacked upside the head by the reality that I am now living in the paradise that is the Southeast. I was hot just standing there. The sun had come out and it had quickly warmed up to a delicious 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Off with the jacket and off to the barn we went.
Gemmie was napping in the sun all curled up being cute and after a short trot to the back part of the pasture and a canter back to the front, she was easily caught and tacked up. She is looking mighty fine this winter, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, while I remembered to bring my camera, I forgot to actually use it, so no pictures in this post. I jumped on her and rode for about 30 minutes or so before they pulled into the drive. But that's a third part to the story, so we will come back to that.
Moving along....the girl E was excited, had been on a couple guided trail rides before and was full of that childhood induced confidence and complete lack of fear that being an adult with bills to pay brings. Up she went and after a brief explanation of how to ride with English reins (Gem completely ignores all attempts at neck reining although I am pretty sure she knows what it means since she ran barrels in her previous life) we began. Gem does great with kids and newbies because she follows my every move when I am on foot with her in an arena. If I move right, she follows right. If I walk, she walks. If I stop, she stops. And so on. Most of the time with a child I allow them to hold the reins and tell them to ask her to go right , left, stop etc..all the while knowing that Gem is just following me, but they don't know that so all is good in the world. But E quickly proved she could handle more and so after a little while I let her go and stood in the middle watching carefully. And she did really well. She pulled on Gem's mouth a bit more than I like and kicked hard enough that Gem went into a canter once, but all in all she did great and Gem plodded along in either a walk or a beautiful slow jog around the arena for about 20 minutes. It was great to watch.
Reason #2 for being happy we stayed home: a good friend from medical school called me up Sunday morning and asked if we would be home that afternoon. He was passing through from a family wedding and it has been a little while since we got together. Of course, life being how it is, they would be hitting our house at...guess what time?? 1 or 130! Perfect timing. But D doesn't mind being at the barn so he and his lovely girlfriend came there to hang out. Which was perfect since it was sooo pretty out nobody wanted to be inside anyway. And our house is trashed. Something about working full time, having a toddler and pets just trashes a house in an instant. They arrived about half way through E riding and the hubby talked to them while E finished up and they left. Then D decided he wanted a go round on Gem and off he went. She was behaving nicely and enjoying the day out. Afterward he talked and caught up then heading out for some food. It was great having the company and seeing them again. They only live 2 hours away which is way better than when he was in Boston for residency and I was in Wisconsin. Still sometimes 2 hours seems forever far with a toddler and we don't get to see tem nearly enough.
Reason #3: I had a great 30 minutes on Gem. I know it wasn't very long, but it was just great to be on her again. It is odd. I love the Advantage out on the trail and don't find it horrible too large or uncomfortable even after 2 hours. But in the arena it just feel big, floppy and rock hard. I'm sure it has something to do with the way I ride in the arena versus out on the trail. I probably try to ride more proper English style in the arena and am more relaxed out on trail. Anyway. The arena also is a great place to work on speed. Out on trail I am conservative with the footing, hills etc...with where I trot, but in the arena I get bored really fast so we do a lot of canter work. Hubby set up a small cross rail and I haven't jumped Gem in ages. At first I was nervous since this isn't a jumping saddle, but 2 ft isn't very tall. She went over the first time in her normal hesitant manner. But the next time? She picked up a canter going into it all on her own, soared over and cantered away! She was a happy horse with a well fitting saddle :) And guess what? It made me very happy as well.
Reason #4: It was HOT out. Well, not summer heat hot, but in February with a full WI style winter coat on, 65 and sunny was HOT for Gemmie. After only 30 minutes of walk/trot/canter work she was a sweaty little beast. Had we attended the hunter pace she would have over heated big time. The last times we went to FENCE the poor horses overheated due to 70 and sunny in October/November and they weren't even this hairy. I doubt we would have had a good time worried about how hot they were and they would have run the risk of dehydration and electrolyte issues even after only 8 or 9 miles in the sun with that much hair. It was better we stayed home.