I don’t even like 80’s music at all, so why the hell is a friggin Whitesnake song what came to mind for me when I was writing this title? *shudder* And now it’s stuck in my head. Great. Wonderful.
ANYWAY. This post is about Gemma. Because I think I love her (great, that tossed a Partridge Family song into my head instead and now I just feel old AF. Better than Whitesnake though…). I mean, I already knew that I liked her a lot, just from the day to day handling and learning her personality over the first couple months she was here. But now that I’m riding her and learning more about that side of her, I just continuously keep liking her more and more. She has yet to disappoint, aside from the fact that she’s gross and always smells like pee. Minor details.
I took her out back on the hacking path by herself last week for the first time and of course she was super. No screaming, no spooking, no funny business. Her head is on a swivel and she wants to look around a lot, but in a curious way, not a spooky way. She’s like that about everything and it’s a quality I greatly appreciate. She’s interested and engaged, but not fearful or stupid. I never feel like she’s gonna do anything particularly naughty or go belligerent on me.
I’ve also been riding her out in the jump field for the past few rides. It’s not level like the dressage arena, there’s a good bit of slope to it, but it’s bigger. There are pros and cons to both spaces. She’s a little more naturally forward out in the jump field, which helps, and my poles are out there for her to trot and canter over. I was hesitant about how she would handle the slope… the first couple times I hacked her outside of the ring you could tell she wasn’t used to unmanicured surfaces or having to pay attention to her feet. I think she tripped over every rock, stick, divot, and bump. She’s figured it out pretty quickly though, and now she’s only tripping over things when she loses focus, looks at something else, and forgets to watch her feet.
The slope in the jump field can be challenging though, especially for young and green ones that aren’t that strong yet and are still learning how to balance themselves. The first ride out there she was definitely struggling a little with the steepest downhill parts, but every ride she’s shown great improvement, and now she seems to have figured it out pretty well for herself. You can feel her adjusting her own balance to compensate for the slope… she’s smart and naturally wants to stay up off her forehand, which makes her feel very nice to ride (especially if you’re used to a Henry, where you spend 99.9% of every single ride trying to get him in a more uphill balance). Of all the straight off the track horses I’ve had and ridden, she’s probably got the most natural aptitude for the flatwork as any I’ve sat on. She’s not hesitant about the contact (even if it’s still very inconsistent), she doesn’t try to escape by ducking behind, and she actually wants you to ride her with your seat. Mostly we’re working on getting her more supple through her body and bending around the leg right now. There are 5-10 steps of brilliance every few minutes, and those steps hold a lot of promise. The feeling she gives you in those moments is really nice.
Which… Hillary hasn’t sat on her yet (today maybe!) but Bea got to take her for a spin yesterday. Figures that the kiddo is the second one on her and beat Hillary to the punch. Ever since we brought Gemma home Bea has been saying this is her horse, but I think we all thought it might be a long time until Bea actually got to sit on her. Jokes on us because Gemma is a lot quieter and more chill than we anticipated.
After I rode her yesterday, Gemma gave pony rides to Bea for a few minutes, because what better mount for a 4yo kid than a 5yo ottb chestnut mare? She was super though. Don’t believe stereotypes. It’ll be a long time before they do anything but pony rides of course, but that seems to have appeased Bea for now.
I’ve been making an effort to upload videos of her to my Instagram regularly so you can follow along with her progress… it’s easier than posting them on Vimeo and then embedding them.
Gemma is making me wish I had the budget to do an embryo transfer on her this year so I could “have my cake and eat it too” by getting a baby out of her but still continuing to ride her. That’s not in the cards though, so the baby-making will just have to take a backseat… I’m having too much fun riding her.