April 24, 2016

River Valley Hunter Pace: The Manic Depressive Mare

Sorry, no media, from this ride. Instead you get some of my favorite Gem pics.

Gem had a stick up her butt from the start. That stick was named Tristan. We pulled into the ride about 10 minutes ahead of BO and Tristan and they parked 4 trailers down from us. Gem knew. Tristan knew. They spent the next 15 minutes screaming for each other. I somehow managed to wrangle her tack on without getting either stomped by her pawing feet or smushed by her ever swerving big bay buttocks.

Kind of like this
I knew what I was in for and I secretly wished for my slow as a snail mare from last weekend.  In a way it was good though. I started going to the paces to not only condition, but to use them to get her over her race brain mentality. After all the paces we have been to this year, this is the first time she started a ride in the same mentality she does an endurance ride. In the past, it has taken her 10 miles to calm down and focus and I knew this ride was between 6 and 7 miles, so it was going to be interesting.

The ride was done backwards from December which meant that the horses leaving went past the trailers. As I was clipping the breast collar on her, Tristan went soaring past. Gem was livid.

The beast sleeps

I hand walked her to the start and climbed aboard. We paced as we waited to be let loose and then she took off. I had a death grip on the reins and I know my face was white as a ghost.

I don't mind fast. I love forward. What I don't like is fast and sometimes mostly forward with random sideways leaping and coming to a complete and sudden stop without any warning. just to leap forward again. We wove between the fences that create the trail and she was not listening to me one bit. Eventually I just started to circle her and make her halt. I don't know if that helps or hurts, but it at least gets her to focus on me and not on whatever lunatic plan she has at the moment (in this case it was catching up to the now long gone Tristan).

By the time we hit the woods around mile 2 she had calmed down with the spooking enough for me to dig my nails out of my palms and breathe again. She was still fast and furious, but was at least consistently moving forward. I let the reins out a bit and she galloped off. Fine, wear yourself out mare. Just keep moving.

By mile 3, she had decided that she was never going to catch him and calmed the poop down again. She was still looky and not 100% back to herself, but she was back to only tensing up or skirting problem areas and not trying to spin out from under me. So I gave her more slack, told her she was beautiful and let her move out. She clocked in at 9 mph and was mostly behaving herself.

Her yearling photo. At least she kept her attitude as she grew up. 
By mile 4, she had her breaks reinstalled and I could finally get her balanced going downhill or over more tricky terrain. I could nearly trust her to make smart decision by this point which was a big win. We were only 4 miles in instead of 10. Small victories, folks.

We reached the halfway point and she buried her nose in the water bucket then began shoving her face full of grass. She was sweaty, but it was more of a nervous sweat than a true exertion one. We moved off after the hold and she was a little more looky than I would have liked. I wished I had my whip with me, but had left it behind at the start not wanting to add fuel to her fire.

I never felt comfortable enough to let her canter, but we did move out freely and after the hold I actually caught myself having fun. I was smiling again and talking to her a lot to give her a confidence boost. We went down a few new trails that had some holes and she paid attention and skirted around them as directed.

We came to a road crossing and I finally got to meet Bec!! Hi!!! Not sure how she could have possibly recognized us with all our red and black tack on ;)

Gem never slowed down and never asked to stop or walk the entire ride which was a win in and of itself given last weekend. She was on a mission. We came out into the last field that goes to the end and just as the finish line was in sight I heard off to my right in the woods "hH Mommy!" I smiled and turned to look at him and said HI back, Well, Gem knew my attention was gone for a split second and jumped sideways. Good thing I was prepared for the shebitch to come out and I stayed put. Wyatt screamed out "Are you ok Mommy?!" I laughed and gritted my teeth and finished the darn ride.

We finished in decent time, but due to the first 2 miles being stop and go as I tried to get her to focus on the present we came in 9 minute too slow and out of the ribbons. It doesn't matter though. I was just happy that I actually turned the ride into something I enjoyed and got Gem refocused only 4 miles in.

1 comment:

  1. Loved briefly getting a chance to meet you and Gem!!! Hopefully next time it will be somewhere else other than a road crossing hahaha! Glad you ended up having a great ride and thanks for coming out and supporting the pony club!!!