Thursday, June 20, 2013

There's always something part 2 (and ANOTHER conference)

So I returned from the ASCO conference on June 4 followed by a whirlwind of writing reports and preparing to leave for EHA in Stockholm one week later.  Saturday, June 8 I finally had an opportunity to ride.  The stress of work and preparing my family for my next absence weighed heavily on my mind as I went to the barn.  The girls were happy to see me and willingly came in.  Suki galloped to the gate and to a sliding stop and a few steps of piaffe (how DOES she do that?  Making me completely nervous, of course.  We had had a bit of rain (so the sliding was greatly enhanced sending mud clumps flying into my back.  Nikki followed behind at her own leisurely pace, ears pricked forward.  The walk was lovely.  Long strided and swinging.  I love watching my girls do what they do at liberty, thrilled that they are also willing to do it under saddle.  (except for that sliding stop thing!)

Suki called to Nikki only briefly as we headed out of the barn to the arena.  I placed my foot in the stirrup and as I swung my leg over Nikki's back and settled into the saddle the stress dissipated.  I reached forward, patted Nikki on the neck and smiled up at the sky.  It was hot and sunny but I certainly have ridden in worse conditions and Nikki was forward with nice energy.  Leg yielding to the ride I tried not to try so hard, and to stay relaxed.  Nikki responded nicely and performed an effortless leg yield.  After doing that in both directions a few times I changed the bend for a few steps of half pass.  Not brilliant, but seemingly correct in her bend and effort.

I was limited to only a portion of the arena because I was reprimanded by a kildeer who had laid some eggs in a nest that was constructed in the arena.  She jumped out of the nest and squawked at us the first time I went around so I limited how far I rode.  If I rode within 10 feet mama bird yelled at me but did not leave her nest again since I kept my distance.

After my ride I took my time with both girls enjoying their presence and ability to bring me such peace. Once the second conference is over I will finally have time to do more riding and to get Suki into a lunging surcingle, then lunge lines.  I think I was overly optimistic in my assessment of when this would actually get started.  But there is no hurry.  I will take my time and maybe still get to sit o the big girl come fall.

Sunday I rode again and was saddened to see that the eggs were no longer in the nest.   I rode at 7 AM after Suki and Nikki had been out over night.  They started to walk to the gate as I came down the driveway then started to trot when I got out of the car.  Nikki had good energy again which surprised me a little since she had been out over night without having time to doze for a couple of hours.  This time I worked a lot on serpentines with shortening and lengthening of stride incorporated into it.  Nikki responded nicely and adjusted to the requests willingly.  It was such a lovely morning and riding at the start of the day puts me in the best mood!

I repeated some of the work from the day before then moved on to some spiraling exercises and shortening/lengthening of stride.  I could feel a very nice lengthening at the trot and Nikki was able to adjust quickly when asked.  Finishing up with some serpentines Nikki seemed happy and stretched her neck down at the walk to cool out.

Originally I was going to lunge Suki but decided to do some in hand work instead.  Just some leading exercises to sharpen her response.  She was quite intent on listening to me as I could see the concentration in her face with her ear cocked back listening.  At one point she vocalized a low rumbling nickerwhich coincided with heightened response. She did not seem uncomfortable or nervous, just very responsive. I am curious to see if she does it again.  I ran my hands all over her to see if there was some discomfort but could not find anything.  But it didn't seem like discomfort or distress at the time.  In fact she seemed more focused.....

Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Leaving for EHA in Stockholm today.  Monday night I didn't have time to ride so I just groomed both girls and went home to finish trip preparations.  There is always so much to do before I leave especially when there is barely a week between trips.

Shortly before the driver taking me to the airport was to arrive I received a phone call from Christine.  She had gone out in the field to get Nikki and there was a huge cut on her head requiring stitches.  The vet had already called and Christine was going to meet him.  After walking the fence line and finding no evidence of wear the injury may have occurred it was suspected that Suki had kicked her.  The mark up by the forelock looked suspiciously like part of a hoof mark.  I actually find this hard to believe.  Suki makes faces and even lunges, but never makes contact.  And I have never known her to spin and kick.  Nikki respects Suki's alpha mare status and always moves away allowing Suki to com to the gate first, get a treat first, etc.  When Christine went out into the field the two horses were peacefully grazing, so I guess we will never know.

This photo is from the Friday after.  The stitches are up around the forelock and the lower wound is just superficial.

She required 15+ stitches around the forelock area, but the part of the cut further down her nose was just superficial.  So my ride to the airport consisted of texting and phone calls and a lot of worrying.  The procedure went well, but there was quite a bit of swelling which was expected to be gone by the time of my return.

During my absence I kept in close contact with everyone regarding Suki and Nikki.  Nikki's head continued to heal and Louise started riding her again.  Frequent rain kept the girls in more often but overall everything was fine.
Jet lag must have really been affecting me though.  I saw a mounted policeman on a big bay mare in Stockholm and it nearly brought me to tears thinking about Nikki's injury and my inability to be there for her.  Fortunately I have an excellent support system!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Home at last.  I couldn't wait to give my beautiful mares big hugs and special treats.  As usual I could hear them talking to me when I opened the car door.  I just love that they know the souind of my car.  I was relieved to see that Nikki's wound was healing well and both girls were fine.  Suki's head was a little dry but I am pretty much the only one who she allows to regularly moisturize her head.  Deb and Toby do a great job grooming and wound maintenance in my absence.

Nikki too, worked well while I was away with an adapted bridle that would not rub the stitches on her forehead.  I look forward to Saturday when I will finally get to ride and hopefully lunge Suki as well.  It is going to be quite hot so I will be working them early AM both days. 

I am hopeful that I will be able to post on the blog 3 times a week now that things will normalize for awhile!  With Suki starting more serious and consistent in hand work and Nikki's training gaining momentum I should have a lot to talk about!

The other day I heard about a horse who had been burned in the forest fires in Colorado.  Sundance the mustang made it out...burned but alive.  He is currently undergoing treatment.  His friend Monty was not so lucky and did not make it out alive.  Sundance's owner must be beside herself with worry.  As we approach the 4 year mark of the Pink Star fire I wonder if the emotional pain will ever go away.  I don't obsess about it regularly but sometimes as I moisturize Suki's hairless skin I can't help but think of what she must have gone through that night.  But my girl is brave, and from what I have seen Sundance seems to be fighting hard as well.  I want to tell his owner Judy that it gets better, because it truly does.  I feel fortunate to have my horse alive and well nickering to me in greeting along with her baby sister.  Life is good.