August 9, 2016

Gem Brings Her F(u) Game

Sunday morning dawned blazing hot and all my motivation to trailer out evaporated. I grumbled around the house in a pissed off mood until the hubby just said to head to the barn anyway and see what happens.

As I pulled into the barn drive, I texted the BO to see if she was available for the next hour. I honestly don't know how else I could possible take lessons right now if it wasn't for being able to just send a random text and then poof! out walks the BO to fry in the heat and teach me.

We tacked Gem up in the Roxanne jumping saddle and headed off to the grass field. To date Gem has been on her very best behavior. While she is still confused as to what I am asking of her in my very confusing green ways, she has been willing enough to deal and give a good effort.

It was getting to the point where I feared the BO thought I was just being a big wimp and making things up.

Food? Do you have food?
We started off on the 20 meter circle with walking. I am pleased to say that my position has improved 1000 fold already. I no longer brace against the stirrups and have a much more solid leg underneath me. Now to only unlock my insanely stiff elbows and quit tipping forward.

Walking went well and it was obvious from the start that Gem had ants in her pants (I now officially sound like I am 90 years old using that saying) and was extremely forward at the walk. It was nice to have some energy underneath me for a change. Eventually we began to trot and really work on the half halt using my seat and core and quit being so darn grabby with my hands.

Soaking wet with sweat just coming out of the pasture at 10 am. When will it be fall??
All was going really well until BO added a new, second and much larger log as a ground pole in line with the original shrimpy one.

Going to the left, the logs were on the uphill and when I focused on being straight before and after it went really smooth as if they were not there at all. Yay team Gem!! She then switched it up and had us attack it from the right therefore forcing Gem to go over them on the downhill and really sit back.

The first trip around startled Gem a bit and she decided to pop over the large log (now the first of the series) with both front feet, but then that caused her to be at a really long spot and land nearly on top of the second one which she made it over by the skin of her teeth.

Once we were clear, she made it a point to let me know that she was pissed off about the entire thing and crow hopped, shook her head from side to side and gave me a nasty, nasty side eye.

BO laughed at these shenanigans because really it was all Gem's fault yet she was taking it out on me. I held her straight, was sitting well and it was a small log she could have easily stepped over no problem. She goofed up and was mad at me for it.

Unfortunately, this checked Gem out for the rest of the ride. I did ride her back over the sequence at the walk next then the trot and while she handled it much better she was racey, braced through her back and not really listening all that well. I worked on transitions for a while, but she kept trying to race back up the hill to the gate, then would crow hop when I didn't let her.

BO asked if I wanted to try to canter to loosen her up, but that made it all the worse and by this point I was also getting very reactive and braced and Gem feeds off of that. So, I hopped off and handed the reins over.

BO climbed on board the Gemmiebus and had a go around.

I don't want to work. This is hard!!
She worked for a long time to just bring Gem back to earth. It was great to a) watch someone who is really talented ride the mare and b) see what she does to get Gem back when she is that tense. I learned more from watching her ride than riding myself.

Fine I will calm down, but I won't be happy about it
As they went around, she gave me commentary on Gem's behavior and her own reaction to it. Basically, Gem was running through all her tricks to try to get out of working: go fast and hollow, go slow and strung out, drop the inside shoulder and spin, counter bend. As BO held a steady contact and seat and ignored each of these attempts, Gem eventually had to settle and just do what was being asked.

Gem: Trotting for 100 miles was way easier than this dressage crap
She did get a really nice canter out of her in both directions, remarked that she thinks Gem will really turn out to be excellent once she figures out the game and that she is super intelligent and athletic but hates to work any harder than she has to, and then got off because we were all dripping with sweat by that point.

Once I get some things sorted out, like how to add 5 hours to a day and turn the thermostat down on the world, I really do plan on practicing in between lessons. Most of what I am doing is just teaching her to be consistent with her pacing, relax into the work and pay attention to her own feet. All this is being done at the walk and trot and are things I can do on my own without too much fear of screwing it all up. These are also things I can easily work on out on the trail, so I am in no way stuck to the arena to see improvement in my own position and riding as well as her attitude about it all.


  1. Gem sounds a lot like Carmen :D
    I'm glad that you saw your BO work it out. It helps to see that a)they pull that with someone else and b) it's avoidance and needs to be worked through.

    1. I need to learn to toughen up a bit and realize that I'm not asking for anything hard or dangerous. She can behave and do it.

  2. It's so nice to have professionals ride your horse. I always love that. I would not survive that heat.

    1. It was really nice to see her go around. It has been ridiculously hot here this summer. Fallnisnjust around the corner though.

  3. Pro rides/trainer rides are pretty freaking awesome. So happy to hear you're both learning so much!

    1. I'd wager to guess that I am having way more fun than Gem is, but we are both learning a lot and it can only help us in every aspect of our relationship.