Friday, November 30, 2012

Is this why people say they don't like mares??

Snowy weather put a bit of a wrinkle in the week. Tuesday morning we received a wet snow that covered the ground with a few inches and was enough to cause people to drive stupidly. My driveway is a fairly steep curved hill so it was slick going down in the morning. Fortunately I live at the end of the cul de sac so there is only a slight chance of a car coming down the street!

The girls had to stay in because the snow was quite wet and although Suki's rambo is waterproof, Nikki's lighter weight blanket is not. Needless to say Suki was not so happy about staying in. Nikki was less grumpy about the situation. She doesn't seem to need as much time outside as Suki does, but it starts to get to her as well, if it goes beyond the two day mark. At VMF even if Nikki was not turned out she worked in the indoor school so that kept her pretty content. Suki makes faces and pins her ears at the other horses in their stalls while she is being groomed when she has been kept inside. I had originally thought that perhaps I would shorten her mane Tuesday night, but given how difficult Suki is about that under the best circumstances I decided to wait. Eventually she relaxed, dropped her head and became her cuddly self. While I picked her feet I could feel Suki nibbling on my pants, then she licked my hands while I buckled the front of her blanket. I love when she is playful! Both Suki and Nikki received an abbreviated version of their usual grooming because I wanted to get home before the roads became too slick!

Wednesday was beautiful but a little chilly. That's okay, though. It IS almost December! My original plan was to lunge Nikki but the arena was a little too wet and slick for a young horse in the wind after 3 days off! But she seemed to enjoy being groomed and fussed over. When I walked out into Nikki's pasture to get her she first pricked her ears forward then pinned them back....I don't think she wanted to come in. She was fine, of course, when I approached her and happily walked in. Jenn had met me at the barn to visit the girls and the two princesses appreciated the gift of peppermints that Jenn had in her pockets! Suki was uncooperative about being photographed initially (which is very unusual for her!)but then warmed up to it. Well, after Nikki was brought in! I don't think Miss Suki wanted Nikki to get the attention!

Today (Friday) warmed into the 40's with a few peaks of sunshine to make it a bit nicer. At the last minute I decided to take the afternoon off since the next few weeks at work are going to be insane! I saw Suki immediately upon pulling into the driveway but at first did not recognize the horse beside her....
...a VERY muddy Banker. And that was the good side!

Nikki came down to the gate to greet me so I grabbed her first before she had a chance to change her mind and walk back out to the furthest point of her pasture. Kilian, her pasturemate is usually pretty good about being alone although he usually follows at least half way to the gate.

Nikki's coat is surprisingly shiny considering how fuzzy she is right now!

Not having worked since last weekend my plan was to lunge today then ride on the weekend. Squeezing those last few rides in before winter and frozen footing becomes part of my vocabulary! I set up some trot poles to keep Nikki focused and add a little more variety to her workout. She walked out to the arena like a star and started off fine. Brilliant through the trot poles at the extra spacing, lovely transitions. At one point Nikki lowered her head and she must have seen the grassy hill inside the fence of the arena. THEN as if possessed, she moved to the grass and ran up the hill, dragging me!!! Totally caught me off guard so I was unprepared for 1400lbs pulling on me. We had a bit of a discussion, performed some leading exercises then went back to lunging. I moved back over near the spot where she had her "indiscretion" and my baby princess did not even look at the grass. She was all business. After a thorough grooming and pampering session I put a lighter blanket on her because of the warmer temperatures (Nikki will be naked again by Sunday!) and turned her back out in the pasture with Kilian. Nikki has a routine: visit Suki across the fence (because Suki ALWAYS comes back to the gate when I put Nikki back out)then a long drink at the water trough. One last swing around to the gate for another treat then a leisurely walk out to the middle of the field. Too cute!

Next up, Suki. I did a cursory grooming then wrapped her legs for lunging. SOMEONE was feeling REALLY good today!!! Suki was a little looky on the way to the arena, and she called to Banker once, but otherwise fine. First circle on lunge: head toss. Second circle: HOLY COW!!! Those Lipizzaners have nothing on this girl when it comes to airs above the ground! She stopped and looked at me (we stared each other down) then I continued to push her forward and Suki settled into a nice extended trot. Then she relaxed and worked at a medium trot. Well, Princess Suki isn't actually fit enough to endure such work for extended periods, so she dropped her nose to the ground and executed a lovely stretchy trot.
This is why so many people don't like mares, right?

After a spa treatment I watched Suki do her super model walk across the pasture to meet up with Banker. I can't imagine life without her. How close I came to losing her.

I love my girls.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cold weather

Saturday, November 24, 2012
Last night the temperature dipped drastically and the wind swirled around the house whistling under the eaves. I knew that today might bring a bit of protest from Isaiah regarding his riding lesson. Because the barn where he takes lessons does not have an indoor school Isaiah must endure a variety of elements during his weekly lessons. He had mentioned on a few occasions that he probably won't want to ride in winter when it gets too cold. I don't want him to be a fair-weather rider but I don't want him to hate riding either. This morning he gave a small argument but I convinced him Togo, especially since I don't think it is fair to cancel the day of lesson except in cases of sudden illness or an emergency.

So as I sit in my car waiting for Isaiah to finish (he listens better when I am not watching) I remember the first year that I took riding lessons and the extremely cold winter that Iendured! My father, too, endured it because he stood by the rail and watched every single ride without complaint. Even today, all these years later I can still picture him standing there smiling his encouragement. The greatest gift my father ever gave to me was the opportunity (after years of begging) to take riding lessons. My mother always hoped it would be a short lived obsession, but of course it was not. I find that I often think of my father when I am with the horses.

Although we have had some cold days the dark clouds and occasional snow shower (slightly more than flurries) made it feel like the quintessential pre-winter day. When I arrived at the barn later in the afternoon the sun managed to poke it's head out from time to time but not enough to protect me from the bite of the bitter wind. Suki made a mad dash gallop down the field to greet me and her heart stopping speed mandated a chirp from me to coax her into a slower pace. I need not worry though. Suki will stop on a dime at the gate piaffing if she still has a lot of energy behind her. It's almost a protective mechanism, I think. Perhaps the piaffe is not as harsh as slamming into a halt or swerving away from the gate suddenly. Suki's dash to the gate prompted Nikki to do the same, but she preferred an easy canter while tossing her head. I have found that taking Suki in first brings Nikki to the gate making all of us happy. Suki can hang out in her stall with some hay while I work Nikki.

Even with the cold and wind I decided to make an attempt at riding. Nikki was nicely forward on the lunge with an occasional burst of energy. The wind didn't seem to spook her and her attention was focused on me. The ride was short because of the oncoming darkness but my mind and body needed it as I am sure Nikki's did as well. We were even rewarded with a bit of snow flurries. The cold, wet flakes felt refreshing on my face as I turned into the wind. I stuck out my tongue and caught some snow. Although I miss the indoor arena, it was nice to be out in the cold for a bit. If I was at VMF i would have ridden inside and missed out on the November snow. I tapped with my calf with my fingers and Nikki turned to look at me. I loved watching the snowflakes melt into her eyelashes...
Time to dig out those winter riding gloves!

Suki seemed much happier inside with her hay rather than outside watching me work Nikki. She enjoyed her spa treatment and only her neck seemed really dry. Between the wind and the impending darkness I decided not to lunge Suki that night. This time of year darkness seems to come quickly. One minute you feel like you have enough daylight then BOOM it's dark! With more cold and wind expected on Sunday the girls were snugged in heavier blankets. But Sunday night I will have to lighten them up again because Monday will be warmer....then back into heavy clothing Monday night with snow expected on Tuesday. I hate these drastically fluctuating temperatures. It needs to get cold and stay that way!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Being Thankful

So it has been quite awhile now that Suki has gone without additional padding on her graft site. She always wears clothing to protect the scarred skin across her back that does not have hair, so that does offer extra protection to the sensitive graft area. It is so wonderful to not have to worry about bandaging and to feel at ease about the healing process. Dr. Fugaro and his staff and students at Centenary College (Team Suki) did an amazing job. That level of dedication and care is the reason for the success of the skin graft. Yes, it required quite a bit of care once she returned from Centenary, but without their generosity and superb skill I would probably still be dealing with an open wound.

Look how far we have come...
Post op day 12


I remember when I heard that Courtney King, the Olympic dressage rider had fallen from her horse suffering a traumatic brain injury. Schooling a young horse and not wearing a helmet, the horse tripped unseating Courtney causing her to fall and hit her head. After spending weeks in a coma, with an uncertain recovery, Courtney threw herself into her rehab. Hard work, courage and support from family and friends she came back to riding, with a new interest in the benefits of therapeutic riding. Now a proponent of ALWAYS wearing a helmet, Courtney has made the world stand up and take notice, with many FEI riders now sporting a safety helmet in competition instead of the traditional hard hat. She was recently recognized by the FEI with the "Against All Odds" award. We salute you Courtney, and are inspired by your courage!

Sunday was a beautiful day, perfect for riding. A little warm, especially for Nikki's winter coat, making the post ride grooming and removal of saddle and bridle marks a lengthy process. I don't mind when I have the time, because grooming enhances the bond between horse and rider. I have never understood owners who like to have their horses ready to be ridden upon their arrival at the barn, then handing the horse off post ride to a groom. I don't mean professionals who have numerous horses to ride; in that case the assistance of a good groom is essential. Nikki doesn't like to have her belly groomed with anything but a cloth, and gently only, so it sometimes takes awhile to rid her of sweat marks! She was very focused on me even while sharing the arena with two other horses. I find that when there is more activity she looks to me for more guidance, with ears twitching back inquisitively. I had set the trot poles quite far apart and Nikki rose to the occasion with some brilliant suspension! Suki stood by the fence for awhile and watched leaving her post only when I led Nikki out of the arena and into the barn. I could hear her nickering to me from the back gate, impatiently telling me to hurry!

Dressed in a cooler Nikki relaxed in her stall for a bit while I groomed Suki and gave her a spa treatment. Suki's face was very itchy so I held the exfoliation mitt up to her face and let her determine where she wanted to be scratched. Instead of lunging I took her out and worked on some leading exercises/commands. Once out in their respective pastures the girls made their way up the fence line side by side, occasionally stopping to touch noses over the fence. My phone was in the car or I would have taken a video of the scene. It was really very sweet. Especially since no sqealing was involved!

With a littel extra time my tack finally received the cleaning it so desperately needed instead of a quick wipe down.

Driving down the driveway on my way home I slowed to take a look at my girls. Again I thought about what I often take for granted. How fortunate I am to have two beautiful Oldenburg mares. So on Thanksgiving Eve I count my blessings.....I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful son, good health, wonderful family and friends, a lovely home and a steady career. Indeed, much to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Sometimes when my brain races ahead full tilt, my goals become distorted and I have to take a few steps back to regroup. When the fire took place my first responsibility was to take care of Suki and make her recovery as smooth as possible. As she continued to improve and her survival was no longer in jeopardy I had to accept that my goals would have to shift in a different direction and slow to a crawl. I would be lying if I didn't say that I was disappointed and jealous of those whose horses were not harmed. Not that I would have wanted anyone else's horses to be injured, of course but I felt like I had a black cloud over my head. Just as my mare Jenny was starting to really come along she suffered a fractured hock in a trailer accident bringing my goals with her to a screeching halt as well. And while Jenny did go on to train and compete again (in spite of the veterinarians saying that she would never be competition sound again)she never reached her full potential. But she gave me everything she had with heart and courage and we shared a deep bond.

So I find myself once again with realigned goals, and have days when I miss the intense training from when I was at J's barn in Unionville. As the cold of winter looms ahead and my riding will stop for a few months I plan on taking a deep breath and prepare for spring. Hopefully there will be opportunities to audit some good dressage clinics to keep me motivated. I suppose I can pick up some training DVDs to help plan for spring. I have never viewed the Reiner Klimke videos and he was such a master....
I know that at some point I probably will have only a few opportunities to lunge Nikki because once the ground freezes it can stay pretty hard throughout the remainder of winter. But we can work on some leading exercises to strengthen our working relationship which will be fun as well. So, in spite of my lack of riding this winter I plan to fill it with learning experiences out of the saddle. It would be great if I could find someone who had an upper level school master that I could take lessons on weekly. Something I will have to research.

And so, in the continuing theme of learning opportunities, I come back to my new obsession with classical training and the Spanish Riding School. I found this video (You Tube, of course)
Watch the one-tempis in hand.....Oh Suki, I hope you're ready!

The next two videos are about the Spanish Riding School itself, with a narration of the history, etc.

Monday night (Nov 12) we had very heavy rain. Although the arena drains pretty well, it was no match for such torrential downpours. There was one area that was puddle-free so I was actually able to lunge Nikki for a bit. Slightly "up" at the start (after being in for longer than usual)she settled quickly and worked well. Even most of the paddocks were too wet for turnout, so it gave Nikki some time to stretch her legs a bit. Suki was quite a fidget on cross ties while I groomed her, anxious to get outside. Both girls would be out in a paddock while their stalls were being cleaned so at least they were out for a little while!

Thursday was a beautiful day and I was excited that I would get to ride again. When I turned into the farm driveway I could see Nikki rolling. As she was getting up Banker dropped in the field next to her, followed by Killian by Nikki. It was fun to watch. Suki was the only one who I didn't see roll, but I suspect she started the chain reaction of rolling, judging by the mud on her knees!

Fortunately Nikki came right to the gate. Suki stood at the adjacent gate and nickered to Nikki then stood at the fence facing the arena while we worked. I had a nice ride, keeping it simple with a lot of transitions and changes of direction, followed by some ground poles. Nikki kept her focus in spite of occasional outbursts by her big sister!

Even with day time temperatures hoverung around fifty degrees, the nights are cold requiring blankets. Some days I am forced to skip a day at the barn, which results in Suki's neck being slighter drier than when it is moisturized daily. But I am proud of myself for finally treating Suki like a horse instead of a piece of fine china! In the beginning she needed to be treated very delicately, but now that she has fully recovered I have to let down my guard a bit.

Saturday morning reminded me of why I enjoy living in the Oley Valley. Bold brush strokes of orange across the sky topped the mountains at sunrise. The wide cornfields have been cut down in preparation for winter's rest. The meadows are thick with frost glistening as the first light of day hits them. Isaiah had his lesson and because he listens better when I don't watch I now sit in the car and wait for him. I love to watch him ride so initially I was a little disappointed. Then i realized that it was 45 minutes of uninterrupted reading or writing....hmmm

Usually I take care of Nikki first, but Suki followed me down the driveway to the gate and called to me. Obviously she wanted to go first! Because it was such a nice day I decided to lunge Suki as well and I wrapped her legs in white polos and put on her bridle. Suki listened well and while Nikki looked up from her grazing occasionally she didn't call to Suki at all! It's funny how whenever I put them back out in their pastures whichever horse is already out comes over to the gate to investigate. They have an interesting relationship, always vying for my attention.

I read an article recently that said that every day you should do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. So Saturday I lunged Nikki in her bridle but had not planned on riding. I did however take my helmet to the arena just in case I decided to do my uncomfortable task by riding Nikki bareback. Bareback riding is not something that I have ever really done to often simply because my horses have always hated it. Since I didn't ride as a young child, the opportunity to do it then was also not an option. I lunged Nikki for about 15 minutes then walked over to the mounting block. My heart beat a little faster as I secured my helmet. Nikki is 17.1, after all, and getting on was going to be the first challenge. I took a deep breath and climbed aboard. Softly squeezing my legs I urged Nikki forward at the walk. Quietly we walked around the arena. We performed loops and circles and a little leg yield after the walk. It was much better once I started to breathe! I was about to get off when I decided to ask for a trot. Nikki has a really comfortable trot and Oi love to sit, so off we went. Yay for me! Okay, next challenge: a little rising trot. Oh my! I was having a great time! I asked Nikki to halt and wrapped my arms around her very fuzzy neck. Walking back to the barn we both had a bit of a swagger in our stride!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beautiful weather/ Spanish Riding School

November 9, 2012
So as my riding time heads toward its unfortunate and inevitable wind down for the winter (yes, I miss the indoor!)I am becoming obsessed with training and thinking about what's next for me and Nikki and me and Suki. I will lunge them when I can if the footing thaws occasionally during the winter then pick up with regular work again in the spring. Certainly not ideal for Nikki, but without an indoor, that is my only option. I enjoy having the girls together, and as I get my butt in gear in the spring to get Nikki out into the dressage ring for some serious competition maybe something will open up for next winter indoor options. Even during the windown I wish that I could find someone to ride Nikki once a week. My schedule gets a bit out of hand, so having Nikki ridden once a week would help to maintain some consistency. M isn't going to be able to do it anymore, which annoyed me a bit but what can you do, right?

Suki and Nikki are in adjacent fields now, which has some interesting dynamics. When I arrived at the barn J put some hay in Suki's pasture and that girl made a beeline in her lovely extended trot down to the gate to beat Banker to the hay. Banker remained grazing in his spot at the top of the field completely unconcerned about the hay! But Miss Diva had to get there in a hurry anyway (she's starving to death, you know). NIkki was at the top of her field also and showed no apparent interest in making my life easy by coming down to the gate. As I walked the field to retrieve diva #2, Suki followed me along the fenceline, talking the entire time. As I approached Nikki she offered me a soft nicker and finally when I was about a meter from her she started to walk toward me. Ahug, and a treat and we made our way down to the gate. Miss Suki followed along the fence line once again, talking the entire time. Sibling rivalry at its best! I swear Nikki was smirking at her!

Nikki was good under saddle in spite of Suki glaring and occasionally calling to her from her field! Once again I kept it simple but added a bit more lateral work to mix it up a bit.

Sunday, November 11, 2012
What a beautiful day! I took advantage of it by spending extra time with both girls. Suki once again followed me up and down the fenceline while I retrieved Nikki, talking the whole time. I let them touch noses at the gate before taking Nikki into the barn. LOVELY ride today! Suki did her best to distract us, but Nikki maintained her focus. I did a fair amount of lateral work and Nikki was quite sweaty at the end, with her fuzzy coat and the 65 degree temperature. But she stretched her neck happy and relaxed as we cooled out. It took awhile for her to dry and for me to get rid of the saddle marks but it was a nice bonding time. I love how Nikki leans down to snuffle my head while I remove polos and groom her legs.

When I turned Nikki back out Suki was at her own gate (which is now right next to Nikki's) so I grabbed her while I had the chance. I know that she would have followd Nikki along the fence if I didn't take her when I had the chance. Originally I hadn't planned on lunging Suki but the beautiful weather offered the perfect opportunity. Suki was happy to work and only called to Banker once on our way out to the arena! I added a surcingle for good measure, but no side reins. One step at a time. The graft was fine and Suki seemed to accept the addition of the surcingle without a second thought.... Each time I asked her to halt from the trot she lowered her head and lifted her is just second nature to her even after 3 years without consistent training. An extended spa treatment followed and Suki kept turning around to nudge me, making sure I hit the itchiest spots! When I turned her back out, Suki galloped across the field, I thought to go by Banker. But when she got to the top of the field she leaned her head over the fence into Nikki's field and called to her. Nikki walked over and the two girls touched noses...

So I have been thinking a lot about classical dressage training especially after my recent visit to the Spanish Riding School. Well, maybe obsessed is a better word. Watching the horses during their morning work out was so inspiring! They looked so relaxed and happy in their work. The riders were lovely in the saddle with little discernible movement. I envied their calm competance.

The spectator entrance of the SRS:

During the tour we were allowed to take photographs. Imagine performing in this hall...

A few weeks after I returned from Vienna, I stumbled across this:
"The Spanish Riding School Will Open its Doors in 2013" What? How? Apparently the school has been operating in the red for awhile which is when they opened the doors to the public a few days a week to watch schooling sessions. Another facility in Heldenberg also offers opportunities for spectators to observe training three days a week which has brought increased tourism to the region. Here is the article that appeared in The Chronicle:

The new programs at the SRS include training (bring your own horse), groom training and theory classes. I am seriously considering trying to get into the 5 day theory program. It includes theory classes on riding and training, under saddle and in hand.....

I have heard that the SRS has received many inquiries already, but no dates have been announced. hmmmmmm

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blustery Day!

The weather gods have been wreaking havoc with my riding schedule!! I lunged Nikki on Tuesday because her neck seemed a bit uncomfortable from her vaccinations assuming that I would ride on Wednesday. Then they predicted that pesky nor'easter for Wednesday into Thursday. On Wednesday the precipitation was holding off and I thought that I might be able to squeeze in a short ride even though it was damp and cold. But no, it was not to be. The sleet started while I was driving to the barn, so I had to be satisfied with grooming the girls. At some point the storm stopped its westward journey and we were ultimately spared of any additional precipitation. So this morning while many unfortunate people were digging out and contending with power outages, snow and wind, we were high and dry....but super windy.

So today while driving to the barn with my car being blown around the wind, I contemplated riding. I decided that I would tack up Nikki and lunge her and if all seemed fine I would ride. But of course as I pulled into the driveway, no one was around.... When I got down to the barn both girls ran to their respective fence lines to greet me....aaaahh so wonderful to be loved. The parking area borders Nikki's pasture so of course she is standing near the driver's side of my car to greet me. I fished a treat out of my pocket for her while Miss Suki protested loudly behind me.

The wind continued to whip around as I gathered my equipment and brought Nikki into the barn. It was like "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day"! Happy Windsday!
I decided to go through the motions in preparation to ride and see where it took me. Nikki was quiet on the lunge and after about 10 minutes I saw J's truck pull in and park by the house. YAY! So I was able to have a ride in spite of my concerns. The wind was fairly steady with an occasional super gust that did not seem to unnerve Nikki. She looked up a couple of times at the horses in the field as they grazed, but I channeled my inner dressage rider and put Nikki through 10 meter figure eights to keep her focused. A hawk soared over head as waves of leaves blew through the arena. I was momentarily distracted by the beauty of the afternoon...but when Nikki's pasture mate called to her and she responded in kind, I snapped back to the job at hand. The only time Nikki spooked was when I led her out of the arena and the gate clanked nehind us. All in all, a productive outing.

Suki had gone back to grazing by the time I finished up with Nikki and pointedly ignored me when I called out to her. But as usual, she was unable to contain herself and trotted to the gate, mane and tail flying in the wind like proud flags! Skin graft still looks great, and my fingers are optimistically crossed! Is it REALLY possible that I will sit on her in the spring????

The other day while reading The Chronicle of the Horse I saw an article about a mustang contest. The Extreme Mustang Makeover requires that contestants (trainers) turn a mustang into a suitable pleasure horse in 120 days. The horses are then auctioned to the public. I am always inspired by the human-horse bond and how trust between horse and rider forms a partnership. Isaiah rides a mustang in his ridng lesson. Prissy is trained to 2nd level dressage, and she is absolutely delightful! Isaiah speaks of her often during the week between lessons.

and here is the article about Elisa Wallace and her experience with Extreme Mustang Makeover. It's a great read...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post Sandy/bracing for Nor'easter

Well, we were more fortunate than many. The New Jersey coast was hammered, and our beloved LBI was one of the beach communities that was hit hard. In our area, Berks County Pennsylvania there were high winds and a fair amount of rain resulting in fallen trees, flooding, wind damage and power outages. We were prepared with a generator but the power only flickered a few times, so we were quite lucky. The barn did not flood but power was out for a day. We were prepared for that so all was well. The girls were a bit cranky after 48 hours in the barn, but with two days of wind and rain that was the safest place for them. As the wind howled and the temperatures dropped I was glad that I decided to dress the girls in warmer clothing and confident that they were safe and dry! Less to worry about!

Suki's skin was a bit dry after a couple of days without moisturizing, but not bad. I stopped at the barn Wednesday after the storm but power had not yet been restored, so I was not able to groom the girls. I visited and gave out treats, but Suki was especially pushy about wanting to get out of her stall. Nikki was a little cranky but not as bad. It would have been nice to at least groom them a bit but it was really too dark. Apparently power was restored a couple of hours after I left. As I said we were more fortunate than many.

The horses were able to get out in the paddocks for short periods on Wednesday, but the pastures were still a bit too wet for turnout. By Thursday they were out in the pastures again, and a little bit wild. Friday was the first day that I was able to lunge Nikki again. Still windy and chilly I expected Nikki to be a bit wild. Walking out to the arena she was very well behaved and stood quietly while I closed the gate. But as soon as I put her out on the circle Nikki let out a few squeals and a leap, then settled into a forward trot. I let her move forward for several minutes then started to ask for transitions. She was focused and obedient. I know that walk to the arena was difficult for her. She wanted to be silly but held it together. Good baby.

Saturday was windy and cold and Suki was a bit wild coming in. She stood up when J led her out of the paddock. But he left her until near the end and that makes her a bit wiggy. It is only the second time she has done that to him, but it is quite unnerving. Suki has always been demanding about coming in first, so add wind and cold.....well, the sum of that equation is a big negative! Nikki too, had been tearing around the pasture so I opted for a second day of lunging with a ride planned for Sunday. Both girls settled nicely after receiving my undivided attention. I am anxious to get back into a regular routine for a few weeks before winter hits. While the original plan was to take Nikki back to VMF, that is unlikely to work out. So I am probably looking at giving Nikki two months off once the ground freezes. On days when the footing is good I will lunge, but she is not to the point in age or training where she can be ridden after a couple of weeks off in between. We'll see what happens though.

I am also tragically behind with ordering the Suki calendars, so that is one of my goals for this week. The plan is to have them avaialble for ordering by December 1st. I am also uncertain of how many to order and what to charge so that there will be a reasonable amount of money to send to whatever rescue is to be the beneficiary. That is my other dilemma....which rescue? Uggh. I think I need a personal assistant, or rather Suki does!

My thoughts keep going back to making more contacts with human burn survivors for Suki to meet. What I witnessed in some of those meetings was miraculous. Here is a quote from a burn survivor who had lost most of his fingers in a fire when he met her: He said: 'She hesitated a bit. Her ears kind of perked up as if to say, "I don't feel a full hand here". At that moment, I was almost drawn to tears ... I felt that she knew that I had been injured, too.' Suki also helps burn survivors to temporarily put aside their own feelings of discomfort as they talk to her and see that she has experienced some of what they have gone through themselves. It doesn't just apply to burn survivors though. People who have in the past or are currently recovering from or being treated for an illness, or injury also gain hope and inspration from Suki's courage and zest for life. It's about making the most of what life has given you.

I think this recent photo that Jenn took shows the courage, intelligence and depth of can you not look at this face, knowing what it has been through and not be inspired? I should be so wise....

Sunday I had a quiet ride on Nikki, and since she had been off for a week I decided to keep it simple. Primarily serpentines, transitions and frequent changes of direction. Nikki seemed happy to work and attentive to what I was asking.

The evenings have been quite a bit colder so the girls are wearing heavier clothing. Even Nikki with her fuzzy pre-winter coat was wearing a light blanket instead of a sheet. I always struggle with what to dress them in when it is quite cold at night and temperatures rising into the upper 40's during the day. We haven't seen much of the sun lately and there has been a bit of wind, so it seems the blanket choices are working! I can't wait until it just gets cold and stays thinking involved!

Most of my blankets have a smooth surface inside which helps Suki's hairless back as the blanket shifts across it. As the weeks progress each blanket that touches her skin will become nicley slicked with moisturizer from Suki's back! That really helps to keep Suki's back nice and moist, and the thicker blankets offer more padding, giving me a bit more peace of mind! I have some extra blankets that are smaller, so I will be donating them to The Gingersnap Girls horse rescue.

Tuesday (Nov 6): Nikki and Killian were at the top of their field but Nikki followed me down the driveway as I pulled in. My plan was to a quick ride in before the farrier came. As I parked Nikki greeted me at the fence....such a cutie that girl!

As I was scratching Nikki's face over the fence you-know-who started whinnying (loudly!) behind me. She wasn't at the gate when I got out of the car, but I suspect that she heard my voice when I was talking to Nikki.
This is what she did when Peter, in the padock next to her field nuzzled my arm over the fence

Is that a great snake face, or what!

Then she remembered her manners...

Nikki's neck seemed a little sore from her vaccinations the day before so I decided to lunge her without side reins....I worked on sharpening the transitions and she stretched her neck beautifully as she moved out. The farrier had said that her feet are really good and it would probably be okay to keep her barefoot behind. We'll give it a try, since I will not likely be taking her any where for the next few months. Suki seemed less than happy to go second again, but got over it once I started to groom her.

Now to prepare for the nor'easter. We shouldn't be as affected, but there is snow/sleet/wind heading our way for sure. The girls are cozy and safe, so we will hunker down again. I hope that those directly in this storm's path, who are still recovering from Sandy will be okay.