You know how sometimes it's the little things that make everything come together beautifully? I've been working Gabe on the ground, attacking every little thing I could think of before I climbed into the saddle. I wanted to be sure everything was solid and in place before I got on.
Some people would say I spent too much time on the ground with him and I would kind of have to agree. I wanted to be on him months ago, but winter and mud got in the way. I don't have an indoor or an all-weather arena so when it's muddy, it's MUDDY and I didn't want to risk injury to either of us in the deep, slick mud in case things did not go smoothly.
Gabe has learned well, he's a quick learner and really seems to look forward to whatever I can throw at him. I've yet to find something that will spook, startle or bother that beast.
Today it all came together and I climbed aboard. I was nervous, yes, my heart was pounding and my hands sweating just a bit. Every OTTB I've been on has this tendency to take off as soon as you put a foot in the iron and I was prepared for him to do the same. You just never know how they will react. He stood like a rock and waited as I settled into the saddle, all while talking to him and patting him. Robert, my dear husband, helped me out by standing at his head with a lead rope in hand, just in case all the "whoa!" work we did on the ground didn't transfer to the saddle.
It did. Beautifully.
OMG. All I have to say is WOW! Years ago I rode a Hannoverian dressage schoolmaster and I learned a lot from him. He was trained up to grand prix and had the most powerful, incredible stride I've ever sat. He was not an easy ride and I ended my lessons on him with burning abs and chafed thighs because he just required so much work to sit.
I can honestly say Gabe comes pretty darn close to that power, and that's just not a proud owner talking. He strides big, he strides powerful. He walks with purpose but not anxiety. I felt like I had endless power in the engine and all I had to do was ask for it.
And now I'm asking myself "Why the heck did I wait so long? Holy cow!" But, I'm glad I did. He knows voice commands, he understands the pressure of my legs and turns fairly easily. Is it perfect? Naw, but he's not confused by what I'm asking, and that's what's important.
I did cheat a little bit. Kayleigh and I took Chief and Calypso out for a ride before I got on Gabe. I knew Gabe would run around and buck like a nut while we were gone. I wanted him to take some of the edge off, just in case. And he did. He wasn't exhausted, but he was mellow. But I tell you what...getting off Calypso and getting on Gabe was a whole like going from Ford Escort to Ferrari. Seriously. What a world of difference!