Thursday, February 9, 2012

Autumn 2011: making progress

During September and October I was able to take advantage of some reasonable cool days and good footing to lunge Suki more regularly. The first day after two weeks away from lunging, Suki was a little fresh but but listened well. The walk to the arena required a some of our leading exercises to re-focus because some of the horses were calling to her and (gasp) looking at her! Once in the arena our lunging session began with a few hops and leaps and a couple of squeals. I ask for a lot of transitions to discourage the behavior and focus on the work at hand. Some people allow horses to gallop around on the lunge to get the energy out. That is not my training philosophy. Now, of course there are times when leaping and bucking just happens, but I do my best to encourage the use of that energy in a more positive way. I have always found that asking for many transitions in rapid succession helps to gain the hors'e attention. When I have that I then ask for more forward gaits to help tame some of that excess energy. I am not a professional trainer, of course, but have worked with a lot of different people over the years and have learned something from everyone (in some cases I learned what NOT to do!) With consistent lunging Suki's superior lunging skills were refined once again. Even without the use of a surcingle and side reins I was able to ask her to shorten and lengthen stride within the gaits, and get square halts from the trot. Just going around and around on the lunge has to be boring. Mixing it up a bit and making it a true schooling session which I think has more benefits physically and mentally. I was pleased to be able to give Suki some consistent work. Before long it would be too dark at the end of the day and the arena footing would become unsuitable for work. The graft site also continued to improve, and I was thrilled! Weekly I was sending photos of the area to Dr. Fugaro so that he could watch his masterpiece progress!
Preparing for winter, I received the second batch of blankets back from the blanket lady. The girls were still wearing their light sheets during the day and medium at night, but with the weather beginning to shift it would be time for the heavier blankets. The colder weather also meant that the skin on Suki's face and neck would require extra maintenance and switching back to the heavy duty moisturizer. Although her long mane covers her neck, the skin gets quite dry in the colder weather.
Another sign of improvement was that it was no longer necessary to change the bandage daily. As long as it was intact and not rumpled I would let it go to every other day. Suki was truly on her way to becoming a regular horse again. I was beginning to REALLY believe that she would eventually be bandage-free! This was also a bit of relief as it made my other responsibilities less stressful. On days when Michael travelled and I was picking up Isaiah from school, it was possible to just stop in and do a quick Suki check. Unlike any other time in her life, there were days when Suki was allowed to be dirty! I'm sure she enjoys that. Nikki also continued to thrive and progress at Valley Mist and I enjoyed being part of a show barn atmosphere. While I can enjoy the laid back approach at times, I really prefer to be with other riders who have competition goals on top of their training goals. I am in no way belittling riders who don't have competition goals, it's just that I like that atmosphere and I really like to push myself. Having boarded with practically every type of rider at some point, I realize that we have a common goal when it comes to the care of our horses. Some people prefer to never set foot in a competition arena, but they do enjoy improving their horse and themselves. Others are content with trail riding and the bonding that accompanies it. I don't, however, like barns with a a lot of drama, cliques and gossiping. That's not the type of competition I am looking for! Fall vaccinations were also upon us. Nikki is a star for the veterinarian, but Suki, as we well know, has a serious distaste for anyone brandishing a needle and syringe! Fortunately she just needed one booster and it was done intranasally. That caught her off guard, and let's just say that Miss Suki was not exactle pleased that she had been tricked! Dr. Tony held it out to show it to her and as she sniffed it (I love the way horses shove a nostril onto anything they wish to sniff)and he squirted it up her nose. Hmmmm. He probably won't get away with that again! February9, 2012 Snow last night, but not enough to have any fun. Just enough to cause slick roads. The temperature was supposed to reach the upper 40's today, but it didn't quite make it. The sun felt warm though, and Nikki was quietly dozing in her field when went to retrieve her! I called her name when I saw her sleeping and she lifted her head and called back to me, picking up a big loose trot to greet me at the gate. Suki was doing a bit of showing off yesterday. One of the boarders has an injury, and can only be hand walked in the arena. So yesterday while Allen was being hand walked Suki performed her extended trot, passage, piaffe, collected canter with changes, etc. Such a show off!

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