Sunday, October 27, 2013

Half pass, colder temperatures and squeals of delight

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Change is in the air.  Literally.  Today it seemed as though I could actually feel the shift of seasons. The morning was dark with a distinct chill but the temperature was reasonable at 41F.  After putting Isaiah on the school bus at 7:30 I headed to the barn for my morning ride.  I took a deep breath as I stepped out of my car, the cold air filling my lungs.  My favorite kind of morning!  Fortunately I had just laundered one of my heavier riding jackets, perfectly suited for such a morning.  I was wearing a pair of inexpensive but heavier fabric breeches which I had recently purchased (Tuff Rider, full seat) that are super comfortable for schooling!

Janet and Reggie (whom I refer to as "the fox hunting ladies") were getting their horses ready for the Wednesday hunt day.  Janet told me that Suki seemed a bit agitated this morning, more impatient than her usual behavior.  I could slightly smell someone burning branches/leaves and wondered if that was the cause of her distress.   Suki took treats willingly and appeared to have a normal amount of manure in her stall so I gave a flake of hay to both her and Nikki while I gathered my equipment.  That seemed to settle both girls as I waited for Reggie and Janet to finish.

Nikki seemed somewhat impatient as I was tacking her up but with a fleece cooler covering her I knew that she was not cold.  We stepped outside as the wind kicked up slightly and leaves began to swirl about.  Ears pricked forward Nikki was ready to go.  She gave a very small squeal and a head twirl as I moved her out on the lunge but other than being a little more forward to start she did not do anything silly.  I almost wished that she would have thrown in a buck or two and not save it for when I was in the saddle!  To keep Nikki focused and working on the lunge I asked for transitions within and between gaits. Even with the brisk air I was pleased with her attentiveness as she stood quietly for me to mount (we have issues with this from time to time!).  We worked through leg yield well in both directions so I asked for half pass.  A few very nice steps in each direction, so I moved from shoulder in on the center line to half pass toward the rail.  I tried to keep my body straight as sometimes I have a tendency to twist when asking for half pass.  Nikki offered some very respectable steps!
When I asked for the canter Nikki let out another slight squeal and I expected to explode into the canter!  But she held it together nicely for me.  I asked for a lengthening and could feel the power beneath me!

Isaiah had not been feeling well the night before I was concerned that a phone call from the school could be forthcoming.  Suki and I did some in hand work and stretching exercises followed by grooming and moisturizing.  She too seemed distracted, letting out a whinny from time to time.  I also felt like she seemed a little tight in the back so I ended up lunging her for a few minutes at the canter to loosen. My phone had died so I then hurried home to plug it in.  Of course there had been a call from school which I quickly returned, apologizing profusely.  My husband was at work over an hour away so I drove to Isaiah's school to pick him up.  When the nurse could not immediately reach me he told her that I was probably still riding and would call back when finished.  I am thinking that there will not be a mother of the year award for me this year!  Isaiah had a fever so home we went.  Hunkered down on my bed with PBS Kids on the television we spent the rest of the day together.

Thursday, October 24, 2013
Isaiah is still sick and had to miss his class field trip to the Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster.  A trip to the doctor followed by another day of rest, fluids and Advil.  We sat together and read when he felt better.  I wrote and continued to make my way through George Eliot's Middlemarch again.  The girls did not see me at all.  While Isaiah was sleeping I sat in the family room to write.  From my window I can almost feel the chill in the air.  It is a cloudy day so I have lit the "twinkle lights" on the mantle in the family room.

Friday, October 25, 2013
The child is improving but another day at home together.  This morning I was in the kitchen and I suddenly heard a lot of sirens and fire engines.  My heart in my throat I ran outside to determine the direction the emergency vehicles were headed.  The sounds, while not as numerous as the night of the barn fire were still a chilling reminder of that night.  While relieved for myself and the safety of my horses I wondered about those affected by what I was hearing outside.  I guess once you have experienced such an event the thoughts never really completely go away.  We can try to bury the emotions and the reminders but certain triggers bring them back to the surface.  It was a scary moment for me.
 Louise rode Nikki and later that day I went to Isaiah's school to pick up his homework packet and missed work.  I was able to make a quick trip to the barn to groom the girls and moisturize Suki's skin.  Her skin was dry from not having anything done to it on Thursday, but not terrible.  Extended exfoliation treatment improved it greatly.  Deb and Tobey were away at a horse show so there wasn't anyone to do it yesterday.  It is supposed to be very cold tonight with a heavy frost so we moved on to light blankets from medium sheets.  The blanket dance!  It was still early so I turned them back out again.

Saturday, October 26, 2013
26F to start the day!  A heavy frost had settled over the valley so I was bundled up.  I have ridden in colder weather than this, but the first one of the year is always the hardest.  There was also a pretty strong breeze to accompany the low temperatures.  Coming down the driveway to the barn I could see that the arena also had a layer of frost.  Upon closer inspection the footing was a little crunchy on top and maybe a little slick.
I was greeted by a chorus of whinnies from my Suki and Nikki when I opened the door.  Nikki did a big stretch and groan as I offered her a carrot.  Suki had obviously just stood up when she heard my car, and judging by the shavings in her forelock, tail and blanket she had a pretty good slumber!  Both of them lie flat out to sleep which I always find really cute.  Hmmm, is that from the Nimmerdor side of their breeding which they share?

I took my time assembling my equipment hoping that the rising sun would help the footing.  Mornings bathe the arena in full sun but it was a struggle this morning.  By 8:30 the conditions had improved so Nikki and I got to work.  I worked on transitions and straightness since she was a little up with the cold air, wind and falling leaves!  She was very responsive in spite of her energy, although the trot to walk transitions were heavy at times.  Adding trot to halt helped, and working through trot poles gave her the lift that I was looking for.

Suki was in a pushy mood so we did some leading exercises to focus and a brief lunge session. I thought that she looked slightly off but couldn't find anything.  After a bit of canter she seemed fine so I am thinking it is just a bit of stiffness from over night in the stall.  Both girls galloped away when I put them out in their field.  Okay, maybe it was more of a medium canter this time but they are so big that their strides just eat up the ground!

While I was grooming Suki I told that she was kind of stinky having rolled in some manure.  It reminded me of the days when she smelled like fire.  The smell of smoke and fire was so strong in her mane and coat for a long time.  Once the dead skin sloughed away the odor remained in the hair that had not been damaged.  For the smokiness to remain for that length of time, the thickness of the smoke and flames in the barn that night must have been overwhelming.  How did Suki not have lung damage?  How did she not develop pneumonia, which is so common in horses who have been in barn fires?  How did she even survive such an ordeal?  I may not have those answers, but I am thankful to have my beautiful girl.

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