Friday, November 8, 2013

Suki and Nikki working well, and a visit from the dentist

The weather has been crazy in Berks County.  One minute temperatures are a balmy 70F, followed by a plummeting to the 20's F at night.  All of this, of course brings on what I refer to as the "blanket dance" requiring my presence at the barn both morning and evening at times.  As I write this I am sitting in my favorite big chair in my library looking out at the mountains from my hillside perch.  The mountains almost seem brooding, black against a graying sky, yellow-leafed trees splashed in front.  I have taken up residence in this chair for an hour, a peaceful time for me before I have to go down to the bus stop to meet Isaiah.

Friday we had a brief monsoon so all I did was groom the girls.  As I ran from my car to the barn in the rain and wind the memory of Radnor, "the year of the monsoon" came rushing back.  I was wearing the anorak that I had purchased at the event to protect me from the driving rain  and wind.  Inside the horses were cozy, munching on hay and listening to the sound of the rain on the roof.

Saturday, November 2, 2013
Wow.  It is so hard to believe that it is already November.  Halloween is behind us and we look forward to Thanksgiving in the US.  I ignore the Christmas decorations in the stores as I remove my Halloween decorations but keep pumpkins and leaves as a nod to autumn.  Added to this are Thanksgiving decorations....a few turkeys here and there.

Nikki is definitely showing signs that her teeth need to be done so the dentist is coming on Tuesday.  It's funny she does this twisty thing with her head on the lunge and when you lead her with the bridle, almost like she is putting her back teeth on the bit.  It affects her riding only in that she starts off a bit fussy in the bridle, and I don't push the issue when I suspect it is her teeth.  Suki will be checked also, as we are at the six month mark.  The last time Sean did their teeth Suki was really good and Nikki was really bad, trying to sit down in her stall.  That caught me off guard because I really expected Suki to be the nervous one.

In spite of that we did have a very nice ride, but I kept it simple and did not do any collection work.  Instead we did large figures at the rising trot, just letting her stretch over her back and respond to my leg as we moved laterally.  Time constraints due to Isaiah's riding lesson kept me from working Suki so she had a thorough grooming/spa day and some stretching exercises.  Isaiah did his first leg yield today!

Sunday, November 3, 2013
If I could describe the perfect autumn day, then today would fit the bill.  The clocks were turned back so I arrived at the barn at 7 AM.  The fall colors are at their best right now against a clear blue sky with a crisp breeze (okay, wind).  While I had some misgivings about the increasingly strong wind and the occasional 40 mph wind gusts I decided to embrace the beautiful day and ride.  I envied the fox hunting ladies for their perfect day traversing the hills of Chester County.  With the earlier sunrise I was at the barn by 7:15.  Getting out of my carI lifted my head and closed my eyes.  What a glorious day!  Many times I feel that we overlook the beautiful gifts that we experience daily.  The fox hunting ladies were already there preparing for there daybut I was still greeted by the welcoming nickering of my horses.  Warms the heart doesn't it?

Nikki marched out to the arena beside me, ears pricked as the wind howled around us.  She started to call to Suki once but I growled to her and she re-focused.  Honestly, I expected an explosive pre-ride lunge.  While she was energetic and nicely forward all, Nikki was listening to me at all times with an ear cocked in my direction.  My ride was just lovely.  I kept it short because of my concern about her teeth.  She was happy and forward super responsive off my leg and eager to please.  This time I took advantage of the eagerness and asked for lengthenings at the trot and canter.  I felt a lift in Nikki's gaits that felt as though we were floating.  The cold air on my face and whistling in my ears, with leaves falling around us.....PERFECT!

Now, I know better than to take Suki out into THAT scenario.  Instead I worked her in hand in the paddock behind the barn.  I probably should have put the surcingle and bridle on as part of a consistent training uniform, but simply didn't think of it at the time.  There were plenty of distractions out there....the horses from the other pastures came to the gates to watch!  This was good for Suki though and while I had some difficulty getting her to piaffe she did perform some passage for me.  There may have been some stiffness which is why I like to lunge her forward prior to the more collected work.  But in spite of the distractions I was pleased with the work.  Suki, naturally tapped my pocket for her sugar.  Nikki does it as soon as I dismount and am running up the stirrups!

After a grooming and moisturizing both girls were ready to go out, galloping away with delight!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Dentist day!  When Sean McCarthy, equine dentist, worked on Suki and Nikki in April I had been more concerned that Suki would freak out, because Nikki just takes all of those experiences in stride.    Suki was nervous but well behaved on that visit while Nikki tried to sit down and leap forward at varying intervals.  I knew that Nikki needed to have work done because of the way she was grinding on the bit in the back of her mouth.  Suki likely did not have to be done but it had been six months so she was to be checked anyway.

Suki was to go first because once she gets wind of anything suspicious she becomes impossible to catch in her stall!  I'm sure she was already suspicious having been brought in from the pasture only a couple of hours after going out!  Once again she was a little nervous but Sean is extremely patient and kind, taking his time and making the horses comfortable.  Suki did not need to have any work done but it was a great experience for her.

On to Nikki!  She was very nervous, but behaved much better this time.  The front of her mouth was fine but the back had sharp edges as I had thought.  Sean would slip the tools in her mouth (he uses a speculum but does not sedate) and let it sit there until Nikki relaxed, then proceed.  He agreed she is definitely an every six month girl!  He recommended that I see how she is on Wednesday before proceeding to ride, just in case she had any soreness.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
I tacked up Nikki to lunge but used the saddle instead of the surcingle.  Leading her out to the arena she stretched her neck preparing to press the bit on the back of her mouth.  Then she stopped an looked at me like "hmm.  it doesn't feel so bad!"  We continued our walk to the arena happily.  Nikki appeared to be fine on the lunge so I hopped on for a couple of minutes to see how she felt in my hands.  Her response was soft and she seemed very comfortable in her mouth.  After one trot on a 20m circle I dismounted, relieved that she was a happy girl.

Suki tried to jig on the way out to the arena, but I put a firm stop to that.  She was ready to work!  I love the way she seems to be marching confidently toward the arena, obviously enjoying the work and focus.  Nicely forward in all the gates I was most pleased with her ground covering, sweeping walk with her neck stretched.  This is what had coined her the nickname "super model" years ago.  I smiled as I watched her and it seemed as though she was smiling too.

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