Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lateral work

Sunday, May 19, 2013
Today was one of those gray days consisting of on and off misting.  Not real rain, just enough moisture to be a little annoying.  Suki and Nikki were out and did not seem too bothered by the conditions as evidenced by their reluctance to come to the gate.  It was close to feeding time so naturally all of the other horses had moved to the paddock gate area from their large pastures, prompted by me shaking a bucket of grain. 

My girls, of course lifted their heads from the lush grass and acknowledged my call with a soft whinny in response.  Then, back to grazing.  Suki started to walk toward me then was startled by Buck, the farm owner's little dog jumping through the adjacent pasture.  Since that field is being rested the little guy was having a grand time leaping about.  Once Suki realized that this was not a chestnut-horse-eating monster she continued to casually walk toward me in that lovely, big, swinging walk that makes me smile.  Nikki played her usual game; she likes to pretend that she doesn't notice what is going on then suddenly looks up, calls out and gallops to the gate.  Sometimes she keeps it at a walk if Suki is not too far ahead of her.  Nikki approaches me with a furrowed brow and an ear cocked in Suki's direction in anticipation of being shooed away by her sister.

The relationship between Suki and Nikki is an interesting one.  It seems like Nikki would like to be a little closer but Suki keeps her at arm's length. However, when Nikki is not near, she calls to her, and as Suki is always taken out of the pasture first, she paces and talks during the 30 seconds that it takes to bring in Nikki. 

I had a very nice ride on Nikki on Saturday.  She seems to be still trying to get back in the groove of working, but thankfully Louise has been helping with that.  It takes the pressure off of me and my many obligations.  July will slow down and I will then be able to do the majority of the riding.  We are definately making progress, but I am anxious to ride more!  The whole world goes away as soon as I put my foot in the stirrup!  Right now we are working on a lot of transitions and a bit of forward and back within the gaits.  Last fall, just before we had to stop for the winter Nikki was really sharp off the aids while staying soft in the mouth.  Now we have to make up for lost time.  I am beginning to work on a plan for winter 2013-14 because there is no way I am going to take the winter off. For the most part Nikki is quite willing, so it is really just a matter of consistent work.  I also did a bit of leg yielding which was better off of my left leg than my right, but that is more my issue than hers.  A few rounds of spiraling in and leg yielding out helped both of us.  The bit of on again off again mistiness didn't seem to bother her at all, but she definately flops her ears more in the rain!

Instead of doing a full lunging session with Suki I decided to do just a few minutes then some work in hand.  The work in hand was just some lateral movement but Suki seemed pretty happy about it.  She was less than thrilled about the misty rain .  As I led her out of the barn Suki first stuck her head out into the mist, then turned back to look at me, questioning my judgement.  A quick tap brought her to attention, and she only called to Nikki once!  After a few minutes of walk, trot and canter Suki came to a nice square halt.  From each side I lightly touched her side (where my leg would be) and she willingly moved to the side crossing her legs as we also walked forward.  It is fun to watch her move as though I were on her back.  I think I will do some of that work with Nikki this weekend as well.

Isaiah worked on lunging during his lesson this week.  He watched me lunge Nikki and told me that he really wanted to learn to do that.  Unfortunately my girls are simply too large, so Louise worked with him and Blackie. He was very excited about it!

I think that sometimes people underestimate the value of lateral work in other disciplines.  Even in the hunter divisions where some (not all!) sort of poopoo dressage, lateral work is important.  Doesn't everyone want their horse to move easily off the leg?  What about during a jumping course?  Isn't adjustability important??  I remember he first time M (hunter rider) rode Nikki.  She couldn't believe how easily this 4 year old responded to her seat and leg.  Apparently most of the young horses that people asked her to start over fences were unbalanced, did not bend well or respond to the leg.  Hmmmm. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
hello summer!  Yuck!  Hot and humid with two very cranky big girls.  Did I mention that Nikki seems a little bit taller this spring when I sat on her?? Fortunately the weather is supposed to cool off again on Thursday, but tomorrow's 90 degree ride is going to be not so much fun.  But who am I to complain?  I have a lovely mare to ride!  Granted, I don't like summer heat, but I am willing to accept it in July and August.  But MAY?  No.  I keep monitoring the weather in Stockholm, which is where I am headed mid June.  Other than the early sunrise and late sunset the weather so far  looks like it might be cool.  Of course, I will be in the conference center a lot, but I LOVE that convention center!  It is so well laid out.  Too bad I will be arriving 4 days after the royal wedding.  But first I have to get through ASCO in Chicago.... Maybe I will be welcoming the heat of July and the slowing down of my work schedule! Of course July also brings that Andreas Hausberger  clinic, which I am beyond excited about!  Bring it on!

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