Robert now calls Gabe my "boyfriend." If he's my boyfriend, I must be his Sugar Mama. That boy is going to be the best dressed horse on the block! A new turnout sheet and a medium weight turnout blanket are on their way to my tackroom for His Highness right now. You know what the coolest thing about gray horses is? They can wear ANY color and look fabulous. All my horses wear purple, but I'm venturing out of purple with him and trying black, charcoal gray and navy. He just looks great in anything. I don't think I'll ever put him in pink, but, you get the drift.
I also ordered a new set of long reins. My old ones just aren't working. I used them so much with Star they developed some wear areas where they go through the rings on the surcingle, and they tend to snag. Not such a good thing when lightness and sensitivity are what I'm aiming for. It just doesn't enhance his experience if he's getting jerky tugs through the reins because they won't slide properly. I also found a decent, inexpensive lunging cavesson to complete the ensemble. I've been using his halter, but we've been having some issues with it sliding into his eye on turns. Not good, not when you want the whole long reining thing to be a pleasant experience, not one that leaves him half-blinded on sharp turns!
It has been so hard for me to not go out there and toss a saddle on him and just go for a ride. I'm LONGING to ride him. But there are a couple of things keeping me in check. I still haven't bitted him up and that's a big one. I have to measure his mouth before I pick up a new bit for him. I have probably 20 different bits in my tack trunk, but none I would use on him at this stage. I'm going to start him in a full-cheek copper-mouth plain snaffle. It's about as mild as you can get and I firmly believe all horses should go easily in a plain snaffle. Why the full-cheek? It's all about moving away from pressure. The full-cheek is designed to put pressure on the outside of his face, not just the outside of his lips and on his gums, all while preventing the bit from moving around in his mouth or sliding through his mouth if he doesn't "get it" right away. Once he figures it out, we'll move up to a D-ring copper mouth snaffle or an eggbutt copper-mouth snaffle. Can you tell I like the copper mouths? Calypso goes in a copper roller D-ring snaffle because she likes something in there to "play with", but Chief does not. He doesn't like the taste of copper at all and because he's a bit hard-mouthed and ridden by a 7-year-old, he goes in a low port Kimberwick.
I will also admit I'm a little bit wary about the first ride. I just don't know how he'll react and 16.2hh is awful high to fall from. I'm more cautious at 35 than I was at 16. I break and bruise easier and don't bounce quite as well as I once did. It's not that I'm afraid of Gabe, I'm worried that my seat won't be quite steady enough for any initial adverse reactions and I won't be able to stick it. I've been putting quite a bit more time in the saddle on Calypso and Chief in an attempt to prepare myself for the first ride on Gabe. I really need to get my butt to the gym, or commit to working out at home again and lose a few extra pounds, then I'll feel even more confident about that first ride.
I do know that once I get over the "first ride" hump, it will all be good. Well, as long as I don't get unceremoniously dumped into the dirt on the first ride of course!