Thursday, August 29, 2013

I am NOT going into the barn!

Friday, August 23, 2013

I can feel that summer is nearing its end (although officially there is still a month left before the autumn solstice) as I ride in the late afternoon I notice the shadows changing on the arena.  The warm days are followed by chilly evenings and lovely mornings.  Summer has been interesting this year.  We have had our share of heat, but only 2 really bad heat waves.  Regular rain has kept the pastures green and growing.  Typically by August the grass starts to turn a little brownish.  It seems that overall temperatures have been below normal and that is fine with me!
The girls were still in when I arrived at the barn this afternoon, anxiously awaiting turnout.  But we had work to do so turnout was going to have to wait!  Michael and Isaiah were at baseball practice and wouldn't be home until 8:00 so I had 3 glorious hours to spend with the girls!

Nikki was up first, and although the afternoon was warm, humidity was low and the bugs were not too bad. I have been lunging in side reins prior to each ride, which seems to be helping her become more engaged, and loose in the back when I get on.  My goal was to keep the ride simple focusing primarily on transitions within and between the gaits.  After a crazy week at work I felt completely relaxed as I settled into the saddle.  Nikki had good energy and I worked her through serpentines switching between medium and working trot, sometimes adding a walk transition as we crossed the center line.  I added a little collected trot and Nikki responded beautifully.  For canter work I focused on the working gait but shortened and lengthened stride on a 20 meter circle and down the long side of the arena.  I finished with a walk on a long rein, which was peaceful and relaxing in the late afternoon.

I brought Suki out into the arena for a lunge session in a bridle next.  The arena was fully shaded by that time.  Suki worked well too, offering nice, sharp transitions.  She had a minor transgression when the horses in an adjacent field started to run, but I was impressed by how quickly she became re-focused.  Suki always seems quite pleased with herself after she works.  Our walk back to the barn she strides proudly next to me.....

Saturday, August 24, 2013
It was a lovely cool morning for a ride and thankfully the girls came right down to the gate.  Morning is my favorite time of day.  The entire day lies ahead ready for anything.  I stood at the gate smiling as the princesses trotted up to me.  Suki of course turned around to look at Nikki as they approached the gate reminding her with "snake face" to step back and wait her turn.  Aaah the life of an alpha mare!  I am always a bit more in a hurry on Saturdays if Isaiah has a riding lesson because I have to be home by 9:30 the latest.  That gives Isaiah time to put on his paddock boots and hop in the car.  It's a good thing that his helmet and gloves live in my car!
I tacked up Nikki and headed out to the arena with Suki calling after us.  Nikki doesn't always answer, but today she called back.  It was not a panicked voice, but more a low response.
Nikki's canter has been a bit stiff, but I can see it improving on the lunge while she is wearing side reins.  The hind end is becoming more engaged, and while it is not as good when I am in the saddle, it is improving there as well.  Louise is working on it with her so it is nice to have a knowledgeable and capable rider helping me.  Yesterday was transitions, today was lateral work.  I started off on a bit of a loose rein leg yielding back and forth at the trot to keep her loose and responsive.  Pleased with the response I picked her up a bit and moved into sitting trot, again leg yielding back and forth.  Feeling nice engagement behind made me smile.  I brought Nikki down to a walk and wrapped my arms around her neck.  Life is good!
Suki nickered at us when we walked back into the barn, taking her voice up a notch when I spoke to her.  That too, makes me smile.  I finished Nikki's post work care and put her back in a stall and she settled happily into eating her pile of hay.  Suki practically shoved herself out of the stall so we had a discussion about manners.  I think that she just forgets sometimes, in her haste to come out by me.  When I work with her first she is less pushy.  Due to time constraints Suki was just going to have a spa treatment with lunge work held off until Sunday.  There are a couple of areas of skin that are dry and they are interspersed within her hair on her hind end.  The skin across her back that has no hair stays more smooth so I suspect that I am not using enough moisturizer on those spots.  I think that it is because I am trying to not get her hair too oily.

Just as I was finishing a trailer pulled in to deliver a pony belonging to an existing boarder.  It was one that she rode as a child and decided to get him back to live out his retirement in comfort.  Sammy is an adorable little paint and walked into the barn like the old pro that he is.  Suki stretched to the end of the cross ties to see him, ears pricked.  She let out a very soft soft it was almost undetectable except for her nostrils moving.  It's so funny how horses sometimes react to ponies!

Isaiah had a lesson on Louise's new pony Rusty.  He is very cute and seems like a wonderful addition to Corner House Farm.  I finally was able to watch a lesson (Isaiah pays more attention when I don't watch) and he was SO focused during this lesson!  It was great to see.

Sunday, August 25, 2013
I awoke to another beautiful morning, looking forward to my ride.  I love to see tSuki and Nikki in their pasture as I drive down the driveway.  All of the horses look so peaceful....Turning into the driveway I couldn't see the girls right away.  Then I realized that they were not in their pasture!!  Panicked I parked and ran through the barn.  Their lead ropes were hanging on the fence, but I did not see them!  Looking into the pasture next to their usual one I saw them all the way at the top.....John had decided to rest their field.  : )  On the other side of the fence were two ponies, with whom, apparently both Nikki and Suki were enamored with.  Oh yes.... did I mention that they were both in heat?  Squatting up there by the fence?  Needless to say my calls to them went unanswered, so across the field I marched.  Thick with dew I could feel the wetness seeping into my paddock boots.  Delightful!  Suki let me catch her so off we went back to the barn.  Nikki didn't follow immediately, but that is not unusual.  Sometimes she waits until Suki is in, or comes when I call her again.  As we made our way across the field toward the gate, Suki stopped once but moved forward again.  We walked through the gate and I closed it (Nikki had not moved from her post near the ponies).  Into the barn we went...or so I thought!  Suki planted her feet and would NOT go into the barn!  I turned her around and tried again. and again, and again.  I smacked her with the lead rope. Bribed her with carrots.  I kept telling her how ridiculous she was being!  At that early hour No one else was around and my phone was in the car.  I tried to remain patient, but the stubborn red head appeared to be firm in her decision! I stopped and looked Suki in the eye.  And there it was.  The determination.  The stubbornness.  As angry as I was that she would not listen I realized something...THAT stubbornness and determination was the reason Suki survived and recovered from the fire.  At that moment I wanted to laugh and praise her for her chutzpah.  But we we had a task at hand.  After what seemed like hours (but was probably more like 5 minutes) the big girl decided to go into the barn and then her stall. I wrapped my arms around her neck and she hugged me back.  Once in her stall Suki paced and called, presumably to Nikki.  Bucket with some grain in hand, back out to the field I went.  My feet were soaked by this point, but aside from a brief moment of ear pinning (!) Nikki walked with me across the field.  My first thought was "oh yeah, I have a great ride ahead!"
The entire time I groomed and tacked up Nikki, Suki paced.  I guess she had boys on her mind!  Finally she settled and I took Nikki out to the arena.  We had a fabulous session!  In spite of the drama, Nikki was focused o the task at hand.  I kept the ride short because we achieved everything in my plan quickly.  In spite of the morning drama I had time to lunge Suki.  Again I worked on transitions within the gaits and between.  The big girl halted on a dime, and listened well.  Running about 10 minutes behind for my breakfast with Bobbi, I dashed out of the barn.
My very good friend Bobbi and I have been trying to connect for months.  Her horse Whisby was with Suki the night of the fire.  Suki, whose eyes were burned and swollen shut followed the sound of her friend Whisby as they fled the farm.  Bobbi and her husband drove Suki to New Bolton in the middle of the night because I couldn't leave my 3 year old son.  I think that sometimes "thank you" is completely inadequate in expressing just how much you appreciate someone's actions.....

That afternoon I went to Louise's farm to attend a saddle fitting lecture by Karen Porter from Northstar Sporthorse.  She brought the vertebrae of a horse, whose spine had fused to drive home the importance of proper saddle fit.  If we as riders, do not have the right tools how can we expect our horses to do their best?  I would not run a 10k in my Marc Jacobs MaryJanes with the 4 inch heels, right? Each of us brought dessert so we had a "social" and discussion following the talk.  Husband and child were golfing...we all had a good weekend!

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