Bad news: Sadly, I will not be at Dressage at Devon with work after all. The store’s manager apparently didn’t tell our boss on the trailer I’d be willing to go, so she recruited one of her Florida employees to come to the show instead. I am super bummed.

I gave Gina yesterday off, mostly because I woke up at 5:45 AM feeling like I hadn’t slept at all, and promptly hit the snooze until 9ish. I headed out to ride this morning and briefly entertained the idea of jumping, but thought the better of it and threw on the dressage saddle instead.

Before I got on, I walked Gina in the outdoor arena over the scary scary crossrails (which had not changed since Tuesday); she walked over them completely blasé, as if they’d never been a cause for concern. I briefly considered strangling her, then remembered she weighs about 1100 pounds.

“Let’s get this over with.”

Once I was on, Gina was all business. This is usually my favorite kind of Gina to deal with, second only to the rarely-seen Happy Gina. (Happy Gina is present at hunter paces and sometimes hacks in the hay field.) Business Gina is focused and workmanlike and has no shenanigans. (No one likes Totally Insane Gina.)

We had a pretty nice ride. We walked for a long time on a loose rein all around the arena, including by the now-boring jumps. One of the barn’s neighbors was out repairing a fence- Gina didn’t bat an eye at the tractor or the fence post driver. Once we settled into our imaginary dressage arena, she put in some pleasant enough trot work before things unraveled a little at the canter. Our trot to canter transitions have never been great, but today they were downright ugly. Instead of stepping into the canter, Gina threw her head into the air, tensed up her back, and trotted faster. She picked up the wrong lead to the left a couple of times, which is really unusual.

Once she was cantering, everything was pretty nice to the left. We practiced 15 meter circles which I’m pretty sure still aren’t round or even or appropriately sized (but that’s why we’re practicing, right?) and started working on the First-3 canter shallow serpentine. Gina nearly always throws in a flying change when she’s headed toward the middle of the arena, but she held it together and did a very shallow loop without changing.

The right lead canter was a struggle- she picked it up okay, but stayed above the bit with her neck and back tensed. She would soften in the corners and step under herself and into the bridle for a few strides, then shoot back up. She halfheartedly tried the same nastiness she pulled on Tuesday in the same corner by the jump without a lot of success- I was ready for her today.

After cantering, I called it quits and cooled her out. She walked over all of the jumps reasonably well. She really has a hang-up about walking over them; at her calmest, she almost always picks up a trot about a stride in front of the fence and trots away. She actually walked to, over, and away from one of the tiny crossrails today- I immediately dismounted and heaped praise on her.

My friend Holly was out riding this morning, too, and she pointed out that although I acknowledge Gina has positive qualities, I almost never define them. She’s totally right. So today, I’ll end on a list of good things about Gina instead of complaining about what a brat she is.

  • Super pretty, with a very luxurious tail (possibly her best quality…)
  • Not very spooky about noises or vehicles
  • Well mannered under saddle; she’s never kicked or bitten another horse while I’ve ridden her, even when some of them have been practically under her tail at the hunter pace
  • Good for the vet, farrier, dentist, etc.
  • Good ground manners (when she isn’t pulling back)- leads well, well behaved for grooming/tacking, jogs nicely
  • Hacks out alone well- not barn or buddy sour at all
  • Doesn’t lose her shit when allowed to gallop in a field (unlike some other horses I own…)
  • Super hardy- very, very rarely lame, excellent hooves, doesn’t injure herself, eats whatever, not a hard keeper

That kind of exercise is always helpful for me to put things in perspective!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

13 thoughts on “Improvements”

  1. It’s always important to see the good in them! It’s so easy to focus on all the things that make us question why they’re still around. But the good is in there too. The reason we took them home in the first place. Glad you ended on a positive note, and I’m sorry you’re not going to Dressage at Devon! Hopefully you’ll get another opportunity soon for something close to as good.

  2. Venus is 11 and still ‘learning’ how to canter……the struggle continues……maybe, first level when she’s 20ish??

  3. bummer about Devon – i was trying to figure out ways to come say hi while you were there!! love the list of positive Gina qualities too. people always tell me about how pretty my horse is and back in the day when Isabel and I would always fight, i’d say that her beauty was her only redeeming quality lol. gotta take what you can get sometimes!

    1. there are many, many days where Gina’s redeeming quality is her good looks. I used to be able to say “And her great-grandfather was the last Triple Crown winner” but American Pharoah ruined that.

  4. A horse with these qualities is worth his or her weight in gold. I’ve ridden tons of nice horses that would bite the shit out of anyone on the ground. Glad to see you’re enjoying yourself. I might be partially to blame for Moe’s gallop out of control problem. We used to race horses up this huge hill at camp when we first got him. He almost always won 😉

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