Monday, October 22, 2012

My hat is too tight

Thursday, October 18, 2012
My baseball hat is too tight. This is my first thought as I sit down today to write. I have just come home from riding Nikki and will have to leave shortly to pick up my son from school, so there is not enough time for a shower until we come home. As soon as I remove my riding helmet I replace it with a baseball hat so that I will not be seen with "helmet hair". It seemed a bit loose when I first put it on so I snugged it up with the back strap. Now, 15 minutes later my head is pounding and it suddenly occurred to me that my hat was too tight. Now that I have loosened it slightly my headache is retreating....

Beautiful day today but very windy! The horses were happily grazing when I arrived but Suki didn't come up to the front gate the way she has been. I could see Nikki and Chester not too far from the gate, so I was hopeful about getting them in quickly. When I walked through the barn I could see Suki grazing close to the stream. She had not heard me drive into the parking area. "Suki mama!", I called. Suki lifted her head quickly and nickered to me as she started across the field. The easy walk turned into a slow trot then to an extended trot. We met at the fence where she continued to nicker softly as she attempted to lean her head into me. I slipped under the gate and wrapped my arms around her neck. Suki gave a hug back with her majestic head then began to search for the treats she was certain that I was hiding! After wrestling a carrot out of my pocket she seemed satisfied to allow me to leave the pasture.

I expected Nikki to be a bit up, with the wind gusting and everything blowing around us. Like the good baby that she is, she settled into work easily after a brief lunging session. I was trying to sharpen her trot-canter transitions so I worked on the spiraling exercise. My version is to trot a 20 meter circle and spiral down to 12 meters, then leg yield back out to 20m. As soon as I hit that 20 m size again I ask for the canter transition. Once she starts to anticipate the transition I change the spot on the 20m circle where I ask for the canter. When I translate this to the full arena I find the transitions are sharper. Sometimes I like to vary the exercise as follows: after the upward transition to the canter I spiral in to 15m then back out to 20m. At the 20m mark I ask for the trot. Nikki seems to enjoy the exercise and I have found that it has helped concentration and learning to wait for transition aids. Knowing that heavy rain was expected for Friday, I was happy to get in a good session.

Suki was a good baby. She was easy to start and delighted in her work. Our biggest obstacle initially was for 3 year old Suki to figure out what do with all of those LONG legs! Cantering was a challenge as she was tall and seemed unbalanced. I simply got into two-point and let her move along in her big stride. The balance came quickly then, and she began to really excel in her work. With her good mind and lovely gaits Suki was a trainer's dream. At the time I was working with someone who I had worked with for several years on my horse Jenny. Jenny was schooling second level when started training with J, and we all worked quite well together. As Suki displayed her willingness to work and talent to progress, J began to push us. Unfortunately because Suki was young and large she started to develop some muscle soreness which led to resistance. I should have known better, and in fact I did know better. But I told myself to trust this person because of her illustrious career. Lesson learned.....

The weekend weather was beautiful following a rainy Friday and severe thunder storms and a tornado warning on Friday night. When I arrived at the barn midday on Saturday the horses were going out after being in for nearly 24 hours. I let Nikki go out and play while I gave Suki a spa treatment. She had a new scrape on her face that was superficial, but bloody. I was able to clean and medicate it but not without a bit of bribery!

It is always iteresting to see Suki through new eyes. Someone was at the barn who had never seen Suki or any of her pictures. The reaction was somewhat a look of horror at Suki's hairless back and scarred ears. I no longer see these things (well, aside from my obsession with the graft!). Suki is still Suki. She is beautiful and talented and brave in spite of her scars and her near death experience. Spending time grooming Suki and caring for her is like a precious activity that I used to take for granted.

After the fire there were dirty saddle pads and supplies that had not yet been taken to the barn. I didn't want to look at them, yet I passed them every day as I walked from my house into the garage. But I have a confession; the first time I saw Suki after the fire I got out of my car and stood in the garage. There in front of me was a pile of dirty horse laundry. Saddle pads with chestnut hair stuck to it. Then it hit me, and it hit hard. Suki could die. I curled up in the pile of saddle pads and hugged one to my chest burying my face in it to smell Suki. And I cried. Then sobbed. The kind of sobbing where you feel like someone is ripping your heart right of your chest and that you will never be whole again. After that I slept on the couch for a couple of hours, put on my brave face and went to pick up Isaiah from preschool.


  1. Bribery is a lovely thing ;) So long as the look of horror evolves into one of interest, it's all good.