Ha! That should get some google search hits :)
We are skipping over last weekend's trail ride. It wasn't a fun one, but not in a way that would make for a great, funny story. It was just annoyingly slow and pokey. I did manage just over 7 miles, but it took over 2 hours to do it in. So lets skip it.
Gem needs more miles to get ready for the future. I had texted S to see if she could do a long ride today, but her mare needs shoes and isn't able to meet with the farrier for another week. Another reason I love being barefoot. So I was on my own. The plan was to try to get about 10 miles in. I don't know a good 10 mile trail up there, but planned on heading out and taking some new off shoot trails and seeing where we ended up.
Upon tacking up at the trail head, my cell phone beeped at me that it was dying. It only had 10% battery life left and so I decided to shut it off incase Gem and I decided it was a good idea to part ways in the middle of woods and trek back to the trailer separately. I was annoyed, but not really all that much since all I use my phone for is taking pictures out on the trail. There are only so many ear shots of the exact same area you can take.
I was deeply annoyed however when my trusty Garmin notified me in a very unfriendly and direct manor that it too was out of battery life and went dead. Darn. There goes the idea of heading out randomly exploring.
I was now officially naked without either phone or watch and no good way to determine how long we were out or how far we had gone.
I had two options. Do the red trail that I did with S and replicated solo last week (which didn't go so hot). This trail is about 8ish miles with lots of hills and a few rocky patches. Doable but shy of my 10 mile mark and I didn't know it all that well. The other was to go back to my good old green trail. At just over 6 miles it wasn't far enough, but I knew it very well and there were plenty of awesome stretches to get moving on. I decided to go for the green but do my utmost best to keep that girl moving. A fast 6 miles would be better than a pokey 8 in my mind.
We headed out doing the green loop technically forward (green markers to my right) and Gem began with a super bad spook and her head up her butt. I ignored her, informed her that we would be moving on down the trail today and she eventually settled in.
The first mile went by fast. Of course without my Garmin or even a watch, I can't say exactly how fast, but we had a lovely trot and were going well. The second mile was a bit more steep and with more ditches/roots/logs so it was slower but not by much. Gem was forward moving with her ears up and happy.
Not much of incident happened. She lost her marbles twice. Once around mile 3 when she was pretty sure her mind was going to explode if she had to lead any more and she just gave up. Instead of getting angry, I hopped off and jogged down the trail with her following to give her a mental break. I don't know how far I went (stupid Garmin, stupid cell phone) but it was a decent distance and once I got back on she was settled down again until mile 4.5 ish. (We had been past the 4 mile marker for quite some time, but didn't get to the 5 mile marker so I guess it was somewhere in the middle) when she did it again. But I just got off and ran a bit and she was fine for the remaining trail.
I had one run in with an idiot. Why are there so many out there??? It was a father/grandfather and young 20ish son/grandson who I had passed on the trail earlier, but now had decided to stop for lunch and tie their horses across the trail. Huh? Who does that? I came up and they asked if I needed through. Yes. The trail does happen to go that way and is single track without room to go around. I thought they were going to move the horse. Nope. He said to go between their two horses which was barely wide enough to fit us. No way was I doing that. So I got off and led her around then got back on. Really?? Wow.
Anyway...we finished the 6 or 6.5 miles in about 90 minutes. Which still isn't super great, but it is a half an hour shorter than ever before. We trotted about 95% of the trail too which is great.
The one thing I definitely noticed on this ride is that I believe Gem is finally understanding her job. She is finally understanding what it is I want from her and while she will never be all that happy being out by herself for long stretches, she is much calmer about things.
On today's ride I really never had to get after her to trot. Sometimes I had to ask her to trot at an actual trotting pace instead of fake walking, but still she knew what I wanted without me having to harass her. After the 2nd mile she began to even start paying more attention to the trail. When I first got her she didn't follow a trail at all. If we were going straight and the trail happened to turn to the right, she just kept going straight. But today she followed the trail and would slow down on her won for really steep ditches/lots of roots/bad rocks or if I asked she did it with me barely touching the reins at all. Once the bad spot was behind us (even if it only took a step or two) she immediately went back to trotting without me having to ask.
This is a big relief. I've always known I could trust Gem to eat and drink out on the trail. The day she stops trying to eat all the leafy greens she can reach or bypasses a water stop when I know she should be thirsty, is the day I rider option in a hurry. But until today I couldn't rely on her to chose her own footing and pace for the trail. She would always just be pokey if I wasn't harassing her into a faster gait. But today. Well today she did it all on her won and I didn't need to micromanage her. Instead I could focus on my position, relaxing my shoulders (for some reason I like to ride with my shoulders up by my ears) and watching for trail markers. It was great!!