I’m not saying she’s a genius, but…

jk I’m totally saying that. Gemma is a little red genius of a TB mare and I absolutely love her. It helps that she’s much sweeter/more open to affection than Henry is so she doesn’t pin her ears every time I smooch her face. AND she’s figured out that the tack room is the cookie room so if you go in there she neighs at you the second you come out. Manipulating me for a cookie? I am absolutely into it. Neigh at me like we’re in a Disney movie please, my inner 12yo is freakin delighted.

How could you NOT give this face a cookie?

Every time I work with her she’s better and better. Gemma learns fast and retains things well, and she genuinely wants to have a job and do it well. Work ethic is one of my most valued qualities in a horse so I’m very pleased to see that she has it. Although granted yesterday when I was lunging her she did stop dead in the corner to grab a weed and then trot away again. It was a very “20yo quarter horse lesson horse” maneuver and I had to give her points for creativity and dedication. Calm down, baby OTTB.

Over the past week we’ve mostly just continued with the stuff we started out on… desensitizing, voice commands, mounting block training, etc. I switched her from the loose regular side reins to the vienna reins, which seemed to make more sense to her.

I’ve also played around a little with bits, loose ring vs eggbutt, different diameters, and french link vs lozenge. I have about 9000 snaffles so I think we’ve now settled on one that she seems to like most. We’ll see. I’m not short of options.

Since she started getting the voice commands down a bit better, we were doing more transitions on the lunge line, both between gaits and within the gait. She’s seemed to figure out now that she doesn’t have to trot at warp speed, she can also trot smaller and slower and that’s okay too. Plus her whoa is pretty darn good now. Sometimes she takes a second or two to process, but it’s there.

I wasn’t planning on getting on her for another week or so yet, but… she’s gotten things a lot quicker than I expected, and she’s a pretty chill horse in general. Yesterday I still had my helmet on when I was working her so while we were doing her mounting block lesson I was like “ya know what… screw it.” and swung a leg all the way over. She was like “Oh good finally, I was getting bored of going in circles”, and that was that.

I just spent about 5 minutes walking, halting, making the walk bigger and smaller, and moving her left and right off my leg. She seems very smart about it all, and she’s responsive but isn’t squirrely about it. After that we walked back over to the mounting block corner, I got off, and that was that. She was extremely nonplussed about the whole thing and I think she’s ready to go to work for real. We’ll keep taking it super slow since that approach seems to be working well for her (she’s confident and relaxed, which is what I want!) but I think we can go ahead and crack on a bit.

She also started Regumate this week, we’re going to try that for a couple months and see if that helps with her perpetual raging heat cycles. Regumate is kind of a pain in the ass, but if it helps her then I’m ok with dealing with it. Latex gloves abound. And yesterday the last of her ulcer meds arrived. It’s been an expensive month for her between the meds and the shoes/xrays, but I wanted to make sure we start her off in the best place possible, so we’ve dotted every i and crossed every t in advance, as much as we possibly can. She also got her own browband, because she’d been wearing Presto’s and we just can’t have her thinking she isn’t worthy of her own, now can we?

the navy spikes suit her

Otherwise I think she’s out here living her best life. She seems happy, and she’s stuffing her face with all the spring grass. Her very dramatic grazing stance has gotten better too – I think as her back loosens up and she’s less stiff over her topline in general. It’ll be interesting to see if the Regumate has any further impact on that. Her grazing stance was contributing to some of the big differences between her front feet, so getting her more even would be nice.

She seems to be feeling pretty good though! Yesterday Gemma and Henry were out there reliving their racing glory (ok, neither of them ever found so much as a smidgen of glory on the track, but don’t tell them that) running laps around the pasture. Gemma is fun to watch, she just has this general air of happiness about her in all the things she does… she’s definitely way more positive about life than my bay gelding. Nobody tell the chestnut mare haters.

I can’t wait til Hillary gets home so we can start hacking Gemma and Henry together. Gemma is ready for more adventures!

11 thoughts on “I’m not saying she’s a genius, but…

  1. I love seeing a restart like this! Do you w/t/c on lunge or w/t right now? Curious for the VERY far future when I can get another OTTB


    1. She’s cantered a little but just a circle here and there. I think it’s hard for them to balance on a small circle like that at first, I’d rather do it under saddle in a larger space, and since she did have a soft tissue injury I don’t really want to add that kind of torque yet either. Honestly I don’t like doing much lunging and almost never do it with my further along horses, I’m just using it right now to teach her about rhythm and voice commands and basic groundwork principles.


  2. My chestnut is by far the most cheerful compared to his wide and varied group of bay friends. Lol. This sample size of two clearly means redheads have more fun. šŸ˜‚


    1. Three… My redhead lives with 2 bays. He’s definitely the most “cheerful”. He also whinnies to me every time he sees m which will NEVER stop making my inner 12 year old silently delighted.


  3. What a smart girl! Iā€™m looking forward to seeing how she progresses!

    My recently restarted red OTTB mare is LAZY! She won over $100K at the track and just wants to bop around now I guess šŸ˜‚


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