While I’ve definitely been putting a bit more time and focus into Presto (because he is A Lot), Gemma’s still been here in the background doing her thing too.
Not gonna lie – as a “horse in training” she’s easier than Presto. I don’t have to be quite as diligent about how often I ride her or keep her schedule quite as regimented. She can skip a few days or have a light week or whatever and still be pretty much the same horse every time. She’s got a bit of Hermoine Granger in her, this one. She’s smart and she gives it her all, both of which make her a good student.
Now that we’ve gotten more of a handle on Presto and he’s coasting along well, I decided it was time to start taking Gemma for some lessons too. Steph has ridden her once, so she has a good idea of what Gemma is like, and I felt like we were already starting off a bit ahead of the game.
I decided for this first lesson on Gemma that I should go ahead and haul her over to Steph’s. Mainly because Gemma has yet to go off property by herself, and it’s only a 5 minute trailer ride down the road. Perfect little first solo voyage. I also opted to keep it to just a flat lesson, so that if Gemma was worried or tense she’d be doing something “easy”. Trying to set her up for success and all that.
To Gemma’s immense credit, she loaded right up in the trailer by herself with just me, no problem. I put up the ramp, clipped her in, shut the escape door, and off we went. She was a little sweaty when we got there (it was like 2pm and pretty warm out, so that’s fair) and a little wide-eyed coming off the trailer, but she didn’t do anything stupid. I got her tacked up, swung a leg over, and walked out to the arena.
She definitely grew a hand or two on the walk over, but she kept a lid on it. We walked around for a while, letting her take in the sights and getting her bending and moving off my leg while we waited for the lesson before us to be done. We went in the dressage arena as that horse was leaving, and I guessed that she might get a little upset at “being left to die alone” (as Presto calls it). She did, but she expressed her opinion with just a couple neighs and some jigging, so not a big deal. I put her to work trotting and doing some serpentines and leg yields to get her brain engaged.
She was definitely a little ball of tension to start and it took a few minutes for me to get her to bend around my leg and go to the rail. The letters with the flowers on top were a bit sketchy, she said. She never spooked though, and the more I asked of her the more she started to settle in. We started the lesson and got to work on suppling her body, moving her shoulders, and getting her to reach down into the contact a bit more. Overall she was really quite good. There’s so much desire to please in that mare, if you make it easy for her to understand I’m pretty sure she’d turn herself inside out for you, no questions asked. It’s a nice quality, but one I also try to be mindful of and careful with.
We worked for about 35 minutes at the walk, trot, and canter, before I could feel her quarter starting to run out. The tension in the beginning sapped some of her strength and stamina I think, and about midway through all the canter work she was ready to be done. We finished on a good note, let her stretch a bit, and called it a day with that. Other than the undercurrent of tension, she wasn’t that much different than the horse I have at home.
She got nice little hose down back at the barn then I loaded her back up (again very easily) and back home we went. I think it was the perfect first little Big Girl trip for her. This week I’m going to take her back over and we’ll play around with some jumps. Gemma’s been stringing together a few little courses at home but it’s hard to build on things with the green ones when you don’t have a ground person. She’s ready to start doing more though, I think!