Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wonderful weekend

Saturday morning I awoke to extremely dense fog. As I made may way over to the barn the only sign of life that I could see were the milking rooms of the dairy barn. Barely able to see a few feet ahead of me, the trip took 35 minutes rather than the usual 20. It was still and quiet when I arrived at the barn. The woods behind the outdoor ring were almost invisible. Nikki's deep nicker greeted me when I opened the door and called her name, making me smile. I wasn't sure if the horses had been fed, and with the lights off they all seemed to be enjoying the last minutes of their snooze before the daily activities began. Enjoying the peacefulness the barn, I prepared Nikki to for our ride. I love riding early in the morning, and with temperatures in the low 40's I wouldn't even be cold! One of my goals for the ride was to focus on shortening and lengthening of stride. We were off to a bit of a slow start, but after a bit of canter work, Nikki really began to engage her hind end. The trot shortenings and lengthenings were lovely! As Nikki shortened her stride I could feel her come up in her back and her whole frame lift. When i asked for the lengthening she gave a big push when asked and lengthened stride without getting flat or strung out. It was AWESOME!! The canter transitions within the stride were not as dramatic, but they are definately improving. To help with that I worked on spiraling in on the trot circle then leg yielding back out to the 20 meter. As soon as I hit the 20 meter I ask for the canter transition which was clean and sharp, followed by a bit of lengthening down the long side. She was light and responsive.....I am smiling as I write this, feeling it again. I love giving her big hugs after our ride. She likes to turn around to take the brush and "help" groom! How I love this baby! Later in the afternoon I lunged Suki. Jennifer came over to visit and take photos. Suki seems to respond to her, posing for the camera and giving a full dose of her diva personality! With the other horses still turned out I wasn't sure how silly Suki would behave! Sometimes it distracts her and she tries to leap around on the lunge. But given her current fitness level those antics can't last very long. But also given her fitness level she can get hurt. Suki didn't seem to mind leaving Banker in the field, so we were off to a good start!
I have not yet bought a new bridle for Suki, and forgot to bring Nikki's when i rode in the morning. Suki lunges fine in a halter, but I want her to become accustomed to regularly wearing a bridle. I also think that she knows she has to work more seriously while wearing a bridle! After a brief grooming we quietly walked out to the ring. Suki snorted a couple of times, but easily settled as I spoke to her. She stood patiently while I organized the lunge line and the whip then began a quiet, though not completely relaxed walk on the lunge.
I spoke to her frequently and after looking around a bit, she focused on me and the job ahead. When I asked her to trot, Suki tossed her head and picked up the trot. I didn't ask for much, just to allow to loosen through her back and get her legs moving. When I asked her for a bit more, she moved out a bit on my request. Again, nothing big, just quiet and relaxed.
I am amazed at how beautiful she looks, even after 2 1/2 years out of work. Suki has somehow managed to maintain a reasonable topline, and her natural ability is apparent in every stride. Sometimes I am saddened when I look at her scars and think about her ordeal, but Suki seems comfortable and content with everything that she has been through. Her life is such a gift! She just looks so pleased with herself and happy to be working. And that makes me happy too.
After our lunging session Suki received her spa treatment, and went back out with Banker for awhile before dinner. Sunday, March 18, 2012: Sunday greeted us with more fog and a bit of a mist to accompany it. So much for riding outside. It was chilly and damp, so I am not seeing the promise of the sunny day during my drive to the barn! In spite of that I had another REALLY lovely ride on Nikki! My baby girl is really progressing nicely! I added more lateral work to the mix after a brief refresher of yesterdays "within the stride transitions". Nikki responded with the touch of my leg, and appeared to enjoy our session, in spite of the delay in her breakfast! After our ride I pulled her mane, but the sudsy bath that I planned was postponed because of the chill in the air. She received many hugs from me and a lot of treats. A little girl (age 4) was visiting and wanted to pet Nikki. I picked her up and she softly patted Nikki's neck. With a big smile and a gleam in her eye, I knew that we were gaining a future horse girl.... This afternoon I went over to Suki for a brief visit. She has had full spa treatments for the past few days, and was happily grazing with Banker when I arrived. It is nice now that we have transitioned to this phase. I check on Suki every day, but because the graft is healed and ther is no wound to treat, I can skip some days and let her be just a regular horse again. When I pulled in the driveway today and she was happily grazing, I was struck again by how close I came to losing her. When I saw Bobbi a few weeks ago she said that it was a good thing that I did not see Suki the night of the fire. She looked so terrible that Bobbi thinks I would have probably said to put her down immediately. I can't imagine not having this beautiful soul in my life......

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