I did not feel comfortable riding her at a 3.5. At a 4.5 I do with the caveat that I watch her closely and don't push beyond her threshold. Building muscle is important and now that I know her nutrition is on par with the demands, her vacation is over.
Saturday afternoon was glorious with shining sun, blue skies and temps in the upper 50s. I pulled into the barn just shy of 3 pm and grabbed Gem from her field.
|Frick and Frack enjoying life together|
|This is why you don't leave your nice leather bridle in the trailer . Poor thing needs a lot of care to remove all the mold and recondition it.|
|Looking like a true endurance mare now. The new headstall is from The Distance Depot and I really like it. Review to come later.|
After all the chatting with Missy, the BO arrived and we chatted some more. By this time, my time was running out as it was after 4, so I ditched my initial plan and just headed to the grass field. The field is deceptive in that it is on a slant in both the north-south and east-west direction, so you are going up or down pretty much constantly.
|Last remnants of snow in the shade|
I sighed. Oh this. This is why I don't enjoy this.
I recalled my tactics from the past. We haven't had access to an arena or arena like area for nearly 2 years. My best tool for her is to serpentine. Keep her moving, keep her changing direction. We serpentined back down the field using the christmas tree cross country jumps as points to change direction. Once we were at the back, she decided to bolt for the exit again. I kept her to a dull roar and once we made it back to the gate, we circled. And circled and circled.
|The jump field. The field is on a pretty nice hill that runs the steepest as you go from left to right in the picture, but also has a less severe incline as you go from the house towards the shade.|
After about 10 minutes, I felt her relaxe and give in to the idea of actual work.
Then she did her second favorite work evasion tactic: come to a halt. She just stopped. Put her ears up and gave me the middle finger. I asked her to walk on. She backed up. Ok mare, you want to play this game? Fine. Don't go forward. But you also aren't going to go backwards either. You can go laterally. Now move.
That lasted only a few minutes before she conceded that that was even less fun. After that she got down to work nicely and we spent 20 minutes doing a serpentine at the trot down the hill and a canter back up.
Then we headed over to the sand arena. It is nice because it is flat and there are plenty of jumps to either use or go around. I plan to add jumping back into Gem's life once again as I think it really helps her build her core and hind end nicely. For Saturday, I just wanted her to get used to the deep sand.
|Nice footing, but it is really deep and she hasn't seen sand in a long time.|
Once we entered the arena, the BO came in with her gorgeous Prelim eventer. He is my dream color: a light buckskin with dark contrasting black points and I love him. They walked around while we did our best to avoid looking completely awful. I wanted to do some short trot and canter sets in the sand and Gem was a really good girl for this. She settled in nicely and focused on me instead of the gelding. After about 15 minutes and hearing her breathing hard, I called it quits.
Just as my feet hit the ground, the BO asked if I wanted her to show me the trails. Poor Gem thought she was finished as I walked her back over to the mounting block and got back on. We wandered down the steep hill and into the woods.
|Sexy fancy buckskin butt. Angry mare ears as she wanted to go faster and pass the guy in front.|
Oh!! And to make me even happier!!! A short 10 minutes away is a set of private trails that include 125 miles!!!!! Holy crap!!! The trail system is limited to those who live on it and those in the surrounding two towns. It happens that I now board within that system and for a yearly fee of $150 I can have access to the trails. I was doing a happy dance in my head :)
Gem was pretty sweaty after the ride and I was really happy with how she settled in. Next weekend is finally another hunter pace and I can't wait. This one is historically pretty short, so I hope to go around it twice to get more miles in. With our next endurance ride looming in the near future, We better get laying those miles.