Went to Hidden Mesa with Gem and picked up Deb and her mare Lexy on the way. I decided to try to ride Gem in the rope hack this time. I'd never ridden him off my property w/o the bridle and I thought to give it a try. I also took my boy Deuce.
It was drizzling as we tacked up, but we were bundled up and ready to go. Started out rough!! Gem was high and brought his head down to buck a few times (though he never did). Deb and Lexy were working some things out, too. We played some interesting games (Deb and Lexy circled Gem and I, for example).
We took Lexy over the water for her first time, too! Deb was thrilled. Her mare did very well! She was trembling at first, but she worked through it and by the end was pawing in the water and having some fun. That was cool to watch. Gem struggled with Deb's approach and retreat as they would get farther away before coming back. I tried to keep Gem focused on me, but it's obvious that he and I need to continue building our relationship. I also think I need to ride him alone on the trail more now.
He was quite bracy in the rope hack and I almost got that feeling that he felt "free"! He was silly acting, high in the front, then bringing his head down to the ground and getting round. He was nodding a lot and just took some time to get used to me talking to him on the trail with the rope hack. I played with sensitivity the entire 7.5 miles and as he settled in, the brace dissipated. By the end, he was very soft and working with me in the hack.
It was dry most of the ride but the last 1/2 mile it started to rain pretty good. I had my rimmed hat on so my face stayed dry, thankfully.