November 30, 2015

Wind ridge HP: Gem actually works!

I made two mistakes and did one thing incredibly right during this hunter pace. Oh, and Dusty made me laugh for hours. Overall it was a success!

Mistakes made:

1) I always wear a sports bra to ride and didn't think anything of it while getting ready Sunday morning. I bruised or cracked a rib fighting off a terrible bout of bronchitis earlier in the month and the pain had subsided considerably the week prior. The sports bra must have put just the right pressure on just the right spot because I had an aching, throbbing pain on the left side of my chest all day.

2) When I went to grab my saddle I remembered that I had shortened my left stirrup a hole during the last pace and regretted it. I grabbed the left stirrup and thought I lengthened it a hole to make up for it. As soon as I mounted up I realized my errors. First, the saddle had been backwards on the saddle rack in the trailer so I really messed with the right stirrup and not the left. Second, I shortened it again instead of lengthened it so now I was riding with two stirrups that were too short, although equal. Oops. I should have gotten off and changed them, but I didn't and instead thought I would fix it at the half way point. Only this ride didn't have a half way point. Oh well. I will make sure to lengthen them again before the next ride.

But enough of the mistakes. What was the one thing I did incredibly right?

After Gem was being a stubborn mule on the ground I grabbed the dressage whip to ride with for the first time
Last pace Gem was pokey and behind my leg even though we rode with Waffles. She came off the course dry as a bone while everyone else was dripping with sweat and I vowed to get her bay butt moving in the future. Haley was unable to join us which granted me the ability to get down and dirty with Gem.

Historically, she is really hard to maintain a pace over 4 mph when out solo. She weaves down the trail acting like everything will kill her and it gets really annoying. As we started off down a grassy lane cut through a pasture, she began ping ponging left and right down the trail trying to find anything to spook at.

I asked her nicely to move forward and she ignored me. I then lightly tapped her on the shoulder with the whip to encourage her. She ignored that too. So then I popped her with it on the right shoulder while giving her rein to allow her to fly forward in response. The last thing I wanted to do was to get her moving forward only to pop her in the mouth and trap her.

She surged forward as expected and then I gently asked her to collect up and come back to me, but keep moving forward. She did and I didn't have to ask her as strongly again the entire ride.

The trail was basically the same as the ride we did there in May and I had my hands full of reins and whip so I didn't grab as many pictures.

We were alone with the horses who left right ahead of us in view for the first couple of miles, but then caught them going up the only large hill on the course. I wanted to maintain a steady pace throughout with walk breaks only when the terrain absolutely required it.

Nearly at the top

Not the best view
 We ended up passing another group as we made it back down the hill and never saw them again. The other ladies, who had left right in front of us, would play leap frog with us the rest of the ride.

The trail left the woods by mile 3 and spent the next two travelling along the cross country course. We flew along here. I remembered how this stretch felt like it never ended in the heat of May with a horse who was sluggish and the unknown horse injury that occurred at the start weighing on my mind (this was the ride where Dusty helped the down horse who ended up not making it). This time however, Gem was on fire and we cantered along with a huge grin on my face.

When my watch beeped at 5 miles I was a little concerned that we hadn't made it to the half way point yet. The rides are all 6-12 miles in length and that would put us at a minimum of 11 miles. No big deal, she can handle it, but she was getting plenty hot and the weather was near 70 degrees. I would need to slow down if it was going to be that long.

Then at 6 miles I saw the finish line. At first I though I had to have missed a turn or something, but the other ladies were in sight behind us and there was nothing left to do but cross the line. We cantered across in style for the first time and I was so happy with Gem.

I really hate the changing of the seasons. Gem always looks odd to me as she changes from grass to hay/grain in the fall and then from her hay/grain back to grass in the spring. 
Gemmie looked like she had actually put forth some effort for the first time since our 50 last February. The water from the hose was bitterly cold, but she seemed to enjoy having the sweat scrubbed off her. She also got a soupy mash.

Derby mare face

After she was satisfied and tucking into a big bag of hay, we wandered over to lunch. I haven't stopped laughing since. Poor Dusty.

I turned in my number and the lady pointed to the food table. "There is rice and soup over here (pointing to the right side of the table) and bread and crackers over there (pointing to the left side of the table).

I wasn't hungry, but I always purchase an extra lunch for Dusty to eat and he made his way over using what I had been told as a guideline. I grabbed Wyatt some crackers and croutons to eat and when Dusty came to sit with us he had this:

The black thing in the bowl is a clove
It looked pretty unappealing and smelled odd for soup, but he said that was the only crock pot on the right side of the table and it was right next to the rice they said to use with it. We both figured it was some odd southern broth over rice thing we had just never heard of.

As he ate I keep seeing people leave the food area with what appeared to be very yummy veggie soup, so I asked him if i could try his. I took a big spoonful and nearly yakked.

"That tastes a lot like hot apple cider. Are you sure thats soup?"

Turns out he ladled the hot apple cider into his bowl thinking it was soup and choked down the whole thing. It was really funny.

Gem looked great back at the trailer and we headed home tired and happy. I'm not sure how much I will be using the dressage whip in the future, but I think it was a great tool to help her learn that she still needs to move forward down the trail even when alone. I had a great time and the results should be interesting.

I have never put in an 8 mph mile when solo on her. Ever. It was great to have her moving out beneath me solo like she will when in company.


  1. YES. Nice job making her work for it!!

    1. I totally thought of you and Q when I grabbed the dressage whip. She was being such a mule on the ground and I had just had enough.