Wednesday morning was as good a time as any to get the dreaded first ride over with. I had been putting it off all week to avoid having to do it at dusk, but now I was out of excuses. Gem needed ridden and she needed it done on property.
Fortunately, the morning was colder than it had been in months and there was a brisk wind whipping around. (Where is that sarcastic font when you need it?) Apparently, the world wanted a show.
Gem was waiting at her gate with the other mares. I immediately noticed her darker coat. Is winter coming already? She is furry and I see a yak in the near future. What I didn't see were any signs of bites, kicks or other mare nastiness. That made me very, very happy.
We sauntered sideways, backwards and a little forward at times past the barn, along the gelding pasture and to the trailer where she proceeded to dance around, snort at all the things she didn't approve of and nearly trample me in the process of trying to brush her out. All of this was expected and I just kept trying to let her know it was all going to be ok. She didn't listen to a word of it.
It had only been 3 days since her arrival here. Other than negative things such as kick or bite marks, how big of a deal could 3 days make? The answer? A big, huge, massive one.
Right off the bat I noticed her left eye was dry. She had started with a clear drainage from it back in June after a long and dusty trail ride. I watched it and it never turned yucky, she wasn't sensitive and her vision seemed fine. But the darn thing kept leaking. It got worse at the last barn. But now? It was completely 100% dry. Maybe it was an allergy to the weeds or grass in her other pastures? Or the hay? Or maybe this place is just magical. I don't know.
I continued my lame attempt at grooming a moving target who seemed convinced the monsters were going to show up to rip her throat out at any moment. Once I got to her hooves, I let out a squee of joy. She has been barefoot since our first winter in WI and always had rock solid awesome feet which is why I was worried at the last farm. Her hooves were always wet. The pasture had some grass and was on top of a hill and never really seemed to be wet, but her hooves were always wet. To the point of me getting really worried they weren't going to hold up for 50 miles. I am sure the 20 miles we rode 2 weeks ago helped a bunch, but after 3 days here her feet were rock solid again. Dry, dry, dry. The frogs were looking amazing without any fraying or moisture. I was soooo happy!
These are two great things and I chalk them up to the large amount of land she is covering while grazing, good grass and fresh air :)
Eventually I got her tacked up and briefly debated on where to ride. The galloping lanes around the pastures were calling out their seductive song to me. I pictured us galloping around having a blast in the cool weather with the wind blowing our hair. And then I pictured a fiery crash as she spooked at nothing, dumped me and ran away to never be seen again. We headed to the fenced in arena field.
Honestly, she wasn't as bad as I had planned for. She was up, nervous and tight but she remembered what an arena was and knew I wanted her to stay in the sand. She didn't agree and tried to canter/gallop out of it and head back to the fence every stinking time, but I just calmly turned her back around and asked her to trot around the darn thing. I did let her out of the sand and attempted to walk around the entire perimeter of the grass field (I think it is about 10 acres with the arena in the middle) and she let me know what she thought about that idea by giving me a decent attempt at a buck. That got her another trip around the field at a walk, then back into the arena. Once she let out a sigh and mostly calmly trotted both directions around the arena, we called it quits. She got lots of praise a bucket of grain and put back out with her mares.
The mares were all out alongside the road and she took off at a canter to join them. The boss mare quickly sized her up and ran her off, but by the time we left she was in the mix again. I am very happy here :)