Not much has happened in terms of riding that is worthwhile to write about. But I have had two recent rides that are blog worthy(ish).
The first was a couple weekends ago after treating her for the skin problem and pre vitamins. It was a glorious day and I took her into the arena for some work. A new lesson lady has moved onto the property and so there are jumps once again at our disposal. Unfortunately, they never seem to be set up when I get there to ride, but I just pull some out and make my own thing happen. Gemmie was on great behavior. I really am loving the demo saddle and can't wait until mine shows up (if it ever does...other blog post coming on that subject) and I think Gem is too. We spent an hour trotting, cantering and jumping and she felt amazing. Very forward, willing and on the gas pedal. It is a good speed work out to get her heart rate up and pumping.
Then this past weekend I decided it was high time to hit the trails yet again. I wanted to get the entire 6.5 mile loop in and so we headed out with plenty of daylight. It was about 2 hours later than I intended, but I think after almost 1.5 years being a mom I am getting used to the idea of always running late.
I tacked her up and set off and had a fire breathing monster under me. Is it the vitamins? Is it the beautiful weather? Is it the fact she hasn't been out on trail in 2 months? Was she excited? Was she scared? I don't know, but the first 10 minutes was spent going more sideways than forward. At speed. She actually almost dumped me about 100 feet from the trailer, but I stayed put and we moved on. The beginning of the trail is by the roadside and while it isn't a heavily trafficked road, it is still a road so I wanted her to go slow. She almost jumped out of her skin trying to go slow. Once we hit the woods, she was off and gave me a glorious 10 mph trot that was a pleasure to ride. We sailed through the first 2 miles without a care.
Mile 3 took us by the lake and she was doing pretty good (walking the steeper up hills and down hills and trotting any straight or less steep sections) until she saw a fishing boat. The guy was fishing in a little alcove and she was definitely not happy with this. She stopped and stared for a long time. I never really know what is best. Push her on? Let her look? Eventually she moved on, but was very cautious and we made it down the trail at a slow but ok pace.
Then all heck broke loose. A speed boat came tearing across the lake with a group hooting and hollering out of sight. I never saw the boat, but then again the only thing I did see was my life flashing before my eyes. Gem took off. She broke into a canter (I have never had the pleasure of cantering her solo on trails as she either won't do it or I'm too scared to ask) and went helter-skelter down the trail. If it had been a wider trail, straighter trail or flatter trail (or any combination of the three) I would have been ok. But it was on a section that I wouldn't have even let her trot. Single track, 90 degree turns with trees tightly on each side and very steep short declines. We crashed around for a while until I finally got her under control. She almost spilled onto her side numerous times.
From that point forward she was unhappy. She was looking for a fight from every tree, stick, rock, and butterfly and was just waiting for an excuse to let loose. She was a very sweaty girl. Mile 4 is on a wide access road and I used the shoulder to trot the crap out of her and get her mind back in the game. It would have been a great place to canter some, but it is also a lot of gravel and her feet are not in shape to go cantering or even trotting down it without boots (which I don't have yet) and so we walked a bit more than I would have liked.
Mile 5 was uneventful but she was very tired at this point and pokey. And then all heck broke loose again only in a different way. This ahs me scratching my head big time. When we bean trail riding solo I would just go out 30 minutes then turn around and it was on the same trail. I noticed that she was fine going out but when I would turn her around she would act up. Not in a rushing to get home way, but in a very slow walk trying to turn around and go back the other way sort of way. When we hit the familiar part of the trail at mile 5.5 she did the same thing. She was walking slower than I do and man is that frustrating. Had we kept the same pace as before we would have finished the 6.5 mile loop in 1 hr 30 minutes which while not endurance pace is still really good for us. But she slammed on the breaks and it too us a solid 30 minutes to go 1 mile! I debated getting off of her and running her in on foot, but didn't want to teach her that is a reward for being pokey. She would stop. She would try to turn back around. She was go sooooo slow. I was at my limit when we got back to the trailer and wanted off.
So the ride ended up taking us 2 hours again. I haven't uploaded my GPS data yet but can't wait to see it as there were definitely some great trots the panic canter and then the slow as dirt walk sections. She was very sweaty at the end which is nice. I go to see the sweat from the saddle and it is all very even. I am very impressed with it. Of course she then decided not to get back on the trailer without a lot of convincing and loss of patience. I just don't get her sometimes.
I worry that she hates going out on the trail solo. She is getting really bad at getting on the trailer which is not something that she has ever done before. If Pete is in there she is ok. But once she sees she is going alone, good luck getting her on. I can't do it by myself. It requires someone else to push her from behind. I think this weekend we may take time to just load and unload her until she realizes it is something she has to do. But that lends me to think she hates it. But then when we are out she only acts up once she knows we are close to being done. Which lends me to thinking she actually really does like it. I just don't know.