Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dancing with my girls

August 31, 2013
Hot and humid.  Thankfully, Suki and Nikki were at the gate when I arrived at the barn and came in willingly.  The bugs were already annoying and it was only 7:15 in the morning!  Uggh.  I know.  It's summer, shouldn't I expect it to be hot?  Actually, during the month of August the temperature has not been higher than 87, but we have had a few days of ridiculously high humidity.  Today was one of them.  Of course at the moment I am sitting at Isaiah's table in the air conditioned house so it is not quite as unpleasant as it was a few hours ago!  And there is our red-tailed squirrel in the feeder.  We primarily see gray squirrels, but there is one red-tailed little guy/girl who takes meals in our yard.

In spite of already being a little sweaty by the time I finished getting Nikki ready for work, and I was looking forward to my ride.  As we exited the barn Nikki did an arabesque stretch on both hind legs.  Ears forward off we went!  Nikki had good energy, which I took advantage of by asking for medium gaits.  Pleased with my results I did a little shoulder in, channeling my inner Andreas.....it felt like I was getting a good angling and step, and not just doing a "head or neck in".  By doing 10 meter circle-6 steps shoulder in-10 meter circle.....it worked nicely.  Left better than right, but that's more me than Nikki.   For canter I did the spiraling in exercise to try to overcome the tendency for Nikki to hang on the hand to the right.  I felt a bit of lift in the shoulder, so the exercise was quite successful.  During the finishing trot work Nikki was a bit heavy but I think she was getting a little tired.  I know that I was!  All in all a lovely ride.

Due to Isaiah's lesson, Suki simply received a thorough grooming and some stretching exercises.  She too, did arabesque stretches coming out of her stall!
Riding Rusty for the second time Louise took them up to the dressage arena after spending some time in the round pen.  Isaiah seemed pleased with his lesson.  I did not watch this week.  He is typically more focused when I don't watch so I only watch occasionally.  Isaiah seemed pleased with his ride and after he and Louise went to check out a praying mantis in the garden.
Next stop, Oley Valley Feed.  Louise's parents are visiting from the UK and had left to capture some photographs of the two covered bridges in Oley.  Isaiah and I drive through one all of the time, but I had not yet seen the second one.  So leaving Oley Valley Feed we made a slight detour to the other covered bridge.  Just before we reached it Isaiah shouted "Blue Heron!" and there it was standing the field while the dairy cows stood near the barn waiting for their milking date.  I only had my phone so was unable to get a good photo.  There is one at my barn as well, and I see it sometimes when I ride.  I hate when it takes flight while I am riding because...well let's just say it is not quiet!  Not as bad as the turkey that Jenny and I encountered on a hack when I lived in Norwich, NY, but startling for sure!
And then we happened upon the bridge.  I love the hex sign at the top. Obviously I need a better picture to see which one it is!

Sunday, September 1, 2013
Muggy, buggy, yucky!  Another humid morning. Once again I could see that the girls were at the gate when I came down the driveway, a good indication that they were ready to come in.  I parked and walked through the barn to access the gate to Suki and Nikki's pasture.  But they were not there!  No, instead Suki was herding Nikki up to the far fence line.  I could tell that Nikki wanted to come in, but Suki wouldn't allow her to pass to get to the gate.  So out to the field I went.  Suki came right to me so I led her while Nikki trotted behind.  Miss Suki, of course, decided to grow to 18+ hands (okay, when you are already 17.3, that is not too far!) and passage next to me.  Nikki stayed to the rear and began to passage as well. WHY DID I NOT HAVE MY CAMERA! And although I know it is a bit of a disobedience, I find it hard to squash it when it is offered naturally and at liberty. I joined in the passage and the three of us continued to the gate dancing together.  I don't know about Suki and Nikki, but I was sure smiling!  Not even humidity (97%!) and bugs were going to contain that!  Suki was very restless in her stall while I got Nikki ready, not wanting to settle and eat hay.  Eventually she did relax, but not as much as I would have liked.   Prince was in the barn to keep her company so I continued to tack up Nikki.  As I put on Nikki's bridle I thought back to my early riding lessons.  My very first instructor, Rema, demonstrated bridling and saddling a horse during my first riding lesson.  During my second lesson she assisted me in tacking up Louis.  At my third lesson she said: "I'll meet you in the arena".   Aaaah... life's lessons!
In spite of the weather conditions, Nikki was a willing participant.  Once again I could see the lift while on the lunge.  I kept that part brief, and as I prepared to mount Nikki tapped my pocket with her nose expecting a sugar cube.  Staring into those soulful eyes and furrowed brow, I acquiesced.  It is no wonder that my girls are such divas.  Then, just as I swung my leg over the saddle a gnat flew into my eye.  Direct hit!  Nikki stood still while I fished the little bugger out and my vision returned! I kept the work light, with transitions and lateral work. Finishing with big stretchy figure eights, I was pleased with my ride.
Suki still seemed a bit unsettled when we got back in the barn, and when I checked her she was sweaty.    I hosed off Nikki and brought Suki out of her stall.  She seemed to relax while I had her on crossties so I decided to lunge her lightly.  My thought was that it could go either way.  Suki would come completely undone away from the barn or relax and worked.  Of course I hoped for the latter!  To keep her focused we worked in leading exercises between the barn and the arena.  She stood quietly while I closed the gate but had a fixed gaze on the barn.  Once on the lunge she was somewhat anxious at the walk so I moved her into the trot to give her more to think about.  With that, Suki dropped her head, blew out a snort and relaxed into work.  I kept the session short and simple due to the heat, but was really quite pleased with what we had accomplished. Breakfast for both girls was going to have to wait.  I took that opportunity to clean my tack, organize my boxes and relax. Eventually they were ready for breakfast and I headed off to Frecon Farm in Boyertown to buy fresh, local produce to try some kickin' recipes.
On my way over to the farm stand I noticed another sign of summer's end.  The older corn fields had been cut back, no doubt on their way to be sold as decorative accessories around the area (I too use them to decorate my porch in autumn).  One season's end marks another's beginning.
And so, Suki and I prepare for the next phase of work....adding the surcingle.  Stay tuned.

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