Monday, July 2, 2012

Horses make me sane...or crazy

Some days I feel like my life revolves around horses and that's just fine.  I feel most at home when I am surrounded by horses, yet I have never wanted to make it my career.  I admire those who do.  When I am spending time with my girls I feel a sense of peace that I don't have at any other time.  Yet, there are days when they make me seem like an obsessed crazy person!  But their safety and well-being is of the utmost importance.  Certainly the barn fire has made me more safety-obsessed, as Suki heals. 

The July issue of Practical Horseman has an article about barn fires.  It raised some valid points, but to me, missed the mark.  The good points were to "design for disaster" and build for safety.  It also discussed how one should determine when it is past the point where lives can be saved.  They never mentioned the box fans that everyone uses, but are not designed for the way we use them.  That I am sure is difficult indeed.  It is wonderful that Maplewood Farms in Reno, Nevada was able to evacuate their horses as the forest fires approached.  But that is certainly different from a fire that starts in the middle of the night.  My favorite part was how we should make sure that our horses are well trained to accept having a halter put on by a stranger, quickly.  Suki was well trained to have her halter put on.  However, with flames all around, smoke, etc, even the calmest horse will be panicked and uncertain about being handled by a stranger in full fire gear!  And now I will step down from my soap box....

The other article was about Heather Mason.  One of the things I have always admired about Heather is her ability to train horses from the ground up.  She helped me so much with Suki, and brought Nikki into my life.  One of her other students, Amy, commented how Heather is always there for her students.  No truer words have ever been said.  The night of the fire I texted Heather in the middle of the night telling her what happened, assuming that she would see it in the morning.  Instead I received a text immediately, and she maintained that contact with me throughout the night.  Heather was the first person to call me when I left New Bolton after seeing Suki that first time after the fire.  She supported me throughout the entire recovery period.  When I asked her why she was responding to a text in the middle of the night she said "I always have my phone nearby.  I need to know what is going on with the horses".  Read the article if you get a chance.  It speaks volumes about her ability and dedication.

I finally got to ride Nikki Saturday, after 2 weeks!  I hate conferences.  They keep me from my family and my horses.  Driving to Valley Mist I was amazed at how tall some of the corn hade grown!  Corridors of it down country roads, with the promise of fresh local corn very soon!  Once again I practically ran into the barn to see baby Nikki!  It was already warm at 7:30, so I was anxious to get started.  She was very snuggly....she missed me!  I had first gone to bring in Suki, because I was worried about the state of her shell. We had another brief storm over night....(crazy). Everything was in order and with the bugs biting at that early hour she and Banker were happy to come in!

Nikki was wonderful, and although it had been two weeks for me, she had been ridden in my absence.  After a short warm up I went right to the lateral work, with Nikki happily obliging.  This is when horses keep me sane!  I rushed back home to take Isaiah to his riding lesson which he also seemed to enjoy.  We stopped to do a midday Suki check because of the heat, and I could hear her calling to me as I got out of the car.  Another moment of sanity.

Sunday was more humid than Saturday, but my early morning ride was pleasant and productive.  Nikki seemed a little tired toward the end of the ride, but was willing and responsive.  I added a little shortening/lengthening within the strides to make her sharper, and this time I felt a nice response at the canter as well.  When I dismounted Nikki let out a sigh, then turned and rested her chin on my shoulder while I loosened the girth.  Sweet girl....The barn was quite busy by 8:30, with everyone trying to beat the heat.  I was glad I had an early ride!

Suki's shell is really struggling to stay together at this point, even with my repairs.  She wore the Wunderwear last night which has had a pocket added for the protective shield.  It is removed first thing in the morning when she comes in, and so far the bandage has kept her graft site safe while she is in during the day.  It was a minor set back, and seems to be healing well.

Tonight Suki was a bit grumpy.  With the heat I have not been lunging her, and I think she misses the work.  I will have to try to do an early evening lunge on the days with lower humidity.  She brightened during her spa treatment, and scratched the front of her head fiercly on the exfoliation mitt.  When we were finished she leaned her head on me.  I think that the girls keep me sane more than they make me crazy....

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