Wednesday, February 22, 2012
When I arrive at the barn, the frigid February air feels refreshing on my face as I get out of the car. The gravel crunches beneath my feet and I anticipate the greeting that I will receive from Suki when I open the barn door. As the first person to enter the barn in the morning you are always greeted with enthusiasm, and big brown eyes blink sleepily at you as they focus into the sudden burst of light. Suki knows the sound of my car, and even as the other horses are talking, her voice stands alone as she speaks her greeting. The air is still frosty but will turn warmer later in the morning, too warm for the heavy blanket that she needed to wear over night, so I have come to replace it with a blanket of lighter weight. “Good morning Big Girl”, I coo to her as I open the door to her stall. Suki rewards me with a nuzzle and another soft nicker, making my heart flip like no other sound can. As I pull off the heavier blanket I reach under the protective sheet to check the bandage. This morning, as usual (knock on wood) it is intact. This is a bonus on a cold morning since low temperatures cause the temperamental Elasticon to have adhesive issues. A few more treats, a hug and I am out the door to go to Valley Mist to ride Nikki. I always enjoy my drive between the two barns. The peaceful back roads of the rural Oley Valley unfold to display the sun rising from behind the mountains. Passing horse farms, dairy farms and beautiful stone houses and barns, my favorite part is the drive through a covered bridge. I pass an occasional dog out for an early morning run with its owner, but at this early hour on a weekend I am alone on the roads with my thoughts and my daydreams. Again I walk into a still darkened barn. This time I am not greeted by hungry horses calling to me, which means they were fed before the others left for the show. "Good morning Princess Nikki!" I called. Nikki's deep voice answered. Early mornings on the weekend I am usually alone as I get ready to ride. Speaking softly to Nikki, I groom her beautiful bay coat massage her face with a soft brush. The arena is quiet as we prepare to work. Nikki was a bit reluctant to get to work. I had forgotten to put on my spurs and she was just being lazy. A quick burst of walk-trot transitions in rapid succession and she was focused and listening. Yay! I found the baby dressage horse! She was just sleeping. From there it was a delightful ride, with nice lateral work and sharp transitions. At our final transition to the walk, Nikki let out a huge sigh and I praised her. By the time I exited the arena the barn was bustling with activity. As I Remove Nikki's tack and groom her, I take time to snuggle her face and talk to her. Nikki is especially cuddly after our rides, and turns around to snuggle while I am grooming her. Additional bonding time is so essential for a successful bond and partnership. A lovely morning indeed. This is Nikki in her new hunter bridle. I ride her in a black dressage bridle, but she needed her own hunter bridle for when Meaghan rides her....I think she looks stunning!