A Dance with Gem
One of the best things about blogging has been the wonderful friends I've made over the years. These women have been a constant in my life for the last decade, and it's always such a special time when I get to visit with any one of them. The other weekend Niamh and I got together, and I had the absolute pleasure of getting to ride her lovely new horse, Gem. It was a chilly but beautiful day to connect with Niamh and get to know her incredible new partner! And of course, she busted out the nice camera so I have loads of gorgeous photos from my ride.
|Gratuitous boot shot|
Gem is a seasoned event horse, having competed through Training Level and with quite a lot of dressage buttons installed as well. He's probably one of the most well-schooled horses I've gotten to ride in a while, and I had so much fun getting to know him!
One of the traits I appreciate most in a horse is the willingness to talk to me - to make a genuine effort to interpret my aids, take my suggestions, and move together. Gem has exactly that kind of mind frame - from the moment I swung a leg over he was focused and doing his best to understand what I was asking. He is sensitive without being over-reactive, particular about his rider doing things correctly without taking offense when I got something wrong, and incredibly generous when I got things right. He was a total joy to ride!
He's also pretty much the perfect size at around 15.2 and athletically built - I do love a horse that I can really wrap my leg around vs. feeling like I'm just perched on top! Gem's only flaw was that his compact body tended to want to get short and compressed, but once I got him to let go of his topline and stretch a bit, he opened himself right up and felt a lot more free and flexible.
In addition to being a fabulous, fun experience, riding Gem showed me some things about myself. He reinforced for me just how much I've learned in the last year or so by riding a ton of different horses, and slowing down and focusing on communicating in a quieter, more horse-first, compassionate way.
Gem responded so honestly and willingly to what I asked, and even when we miscommunicated neither of us got flustered. I just tried to ask him in a clearer way for what I wanted, and things got even more relaxed and happy and harmonious from there. He made me feel like a good rider - not just because he was a very good boy and did everything I asked, but because Gem reinforced an experience I've been having a lot lately.
Riding feels like dancing more than it ever has, and I can't help but think this is how it's supposed to be.