Monday, May 7, 2012

Busy Weekend

Weekends always seem to fly by, especially when you are running from one activity to another.

Saturday, of course, was Suki's birthday. First thing in the morning I rode Nikki. Her breakfast sat in a bucket outside of her stall, so I threw a couple of handfuls of grain to her while I set out all of my supplies to prepare for our ride. Tobey always gives her a little bit when she feeds the barn, but I knew that she would start banging on her stall in protest if I didn't offer just a bit more. Every so often Nikki decides to be a bit difficult about mounting, and Saturday was one of those days. Just as I would put my foot in the stirrup she would quietly take a step to the side. Now I could certainly mount from that position, but this is not a practice I wish to encourage. So we started our session with a few mounts and dismounts until she sighed in resignation and stood quietly. First point: Fran. Fortunately it was not an indication of our ride! Slightly heavy in the hand at first, but within just a few minutes Nikki softened into the bit and was relaxed and happy. We did a bit of leg yielding and shoulder-in, trying to maintain the impulsion and softness. Nikki is getting stronger, so is able to perform these movements for longer periods. I am always careful not to over do, and to not allow boredom to creep in. She always seems quite happy to work. Always impatient during pre-ride preparation, post ride always warms my heart like a kitchen warmed by cookies in the oven. The satisfaction of the ride, the special bond with my horse and the aroma that I inhale when I wrap my arms around Nikki's neck makes all of the hard work worth it.

From there I ran home, picked up Isaiah and off we went to his riding lesson. It is a new instructor and barn for him, but I think that he is enjoying the lessons. L has a different method of teaching from what he has experienced, and it is more in line with my riding/training philosophy. We shall see what happens. If Isaiah wants to ride, he will ride. If not then he can stop.

After the lesson I volunteered at Shady Hollow for therapeutic riding for a couple of hours, which was somewhat hectic, but worthwhile. The reasons for the lessons vary among parents and caregivers. But the students all seem to experience the same thing....a bit of independence and bonding with the horses. I love how at the end of the lessons the student often offers the horse a kiss on the nose and an affectionate pat. And the smile says it all....

I spent some extra time with Suki on Saturday for her birthday and made a few attempts to get the birthday hat on her head. She was not going to fall for it the way she did with the Easter Bunny ears! Extended spa treatment including a lot of snuggles and special treats completed Suki's birthday. The birthday that almost wasn't....On my way past the former Pink Star Equestrian I stared at the site where Suki's barn once stood as if I was staring down death. "You can't hurt me anymore'" I thought, "Because we have won. We have survived and thrived!"

Sunday I started a bit later than i had hoped. This was evident as I passed the first dairy farm and the girls had already been milked and were ambling in a line out to their pasture! But, I had another very nice ride on Nikki. Following a review of the previous day's work, we moved on to transitions within the gaits. Nikki's adjustability within the trot is quite good, but she is still developing the strength in her hind end to collect in the canter. We are not working on full collection, but a shortening of stride with slight collection. She broke back to the trot a few times but then seemed to understand more of what I was asking. After 3 strides of shortening I allowed her to lengthen again. Of course Nikki's initial reaction is to flatten the stride a little, but again, once she understood what was being asked, she gave it willingly. A big sigh from the big girl when we were finished....

Suki came to me pretty readily when I called to her. Perhaps she is getting used to a routine where she is returned to her field following spa treatment! Sunday seemed like a good day for a lunging session, and with rain predicted for a good portion of the week it was likely one of my few opportunities. I even wrapped Suki's leg with polo wraps to give her a reminder of how she used to work. She seemed to enjoy it as she proudly walked next to me out to the arena. Maybe it was my imagination, but I think she extended that trot a bit more with those sparkling white polos on her legs! I found an old bridle of Jenny's in a trunk and will clean and oil it for Suki. Next trip to the tack store and I will buy a new bit (I lost my entire collection of bits in the fire). It's time to get down to business!
The graft looks great, and Suki's skin seemed not too dry as I applied moisturizer. Life is good.

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