The footing in the arena was much better today since we had a little rain and the arena was dragged so I brought Suki out to do some work. The softer footing is definitely better for her. She worked really beautifully with nice even movement. The bugs were getting worse so I kept the workout to 15 minutes, with only a few breaks because of the attacking greenheads. This gave me an opportunity to observe Suki's fitness level and breathing. Her stamina seems to be improving steadily and I did not detect any issues with breathing in spite of the humidity. That's a good sign!
I had lunch with Bobbi today. The timing with relation to the anniversary of the fire tomorrow was accidental. We only talked about it briefly, thank ful that our chestnut mares survived. Bobbi's horse, Whisby did not suffer burns like Suki did, just some ember dot burns but she has had other lameness issues related to the fire from breaking through a fence and running for miles through roads and fields with Suki. So there are constant reminders for Bobbi too.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
I went over to the barn at 5:30 before Michael left for work because Suki was naked and the sun was already out! The temperature was cool so the girls were not so thrilled to come in!
Five years since the fire. You've come a long way baby!
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Late start but not a bad day for a ride. I did a bit of lateral work with Nikki then took her for a short walk outside the arena.
Instead of lunging Suki today we worked on stretches. Then I put the surcingle on her and walked around a bit. Progress. One step at a time. She still turns around and looks at me when I put on the surcingle....kind of like she thinks I have lost my mind and have forgotten that she doesn't get ridden!
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Got a slightly later start again (7:00 instead of 6:30) but I was snugged up in my big comfy reading chair enjoying a Mary Cassat biography and had a hard time tearing myself away! I paid for it though....the temperatures were rapidly rising and I made the error (once again) of wearing a T shirt instead of a tank top.
The girls were ready to come in, and in fact, as I came down the driveway Suki and Nikki were standing head-to-tail swishing flies from one another. They had separated by the time I got out of the car so that photo op was missed. Instead, this is what I saw:
They were happy to come in as the flies were just starting to get a bit more aggressive. Nikki was up first, so I just did a brief lunge to let her loosen her muscles then got on. She was really funny at the mounting block. After i put the reins over her head she leaned her whole face on my chest and gave a big sigh. I massaged her ears before I got on, which she loves! Nikki was definitely in work mode, nicely forward and very responsive. We worked on serpentines at the trot with a walk transition as we crossed the centerline. At the canter I did shallow serpentines to give the effect of a bit of counter canter. Good stuff!
I did a nice lunge session with Suki, but the bugs were getting a bit worse once we got out to the arena. She was a little stubborn about the trot to halt transitions but we worked through it. Then I told her to "back" with my voice and she did! Lots of praise for that one. I had never tried that before with her on the lunge! On our way back into the barn a HUGE horse fly was hovering around her butt so I made her trot in! I am going to have to consider shoes for Suki. her feet are getting a bit chipped from working. Maybe just front shoes? Tomorrow I will put on the surcingle and walk her around a bit.
While I love the training part of riding I am beginning to miss competition more and more. I haven't competed in awhile but even taking Isaiah to the schooling show had me wishing that I was going down that centerline as well! And reading The Chronicle is sometimes excruciating! People always talk about the journey, and yes, the journey is rewarding and important. Having always loved the progress associated with bringing a horse along through the levels, I have also loved the thrill of victory (agony of defeat not so much, but it IS a huge part of learning, and yes, the journey). The barn fire made me appreciate the journey more, although it has been a different kind of journey, managing Suki's recovery. This journey has been quite rewarding because she was brought from the brink of death back to 100% healthy. I have learned a lot during the last five years. I have learned that I can't control everything, and sometimes you have to accept help, and this does not mean that you are weak or incapable. Some things just require help.
The current leg of the journey is the attempt to bring Suki back under saddle. I have accepted that this may not be successful, and while it would be disappointing, I know that what is most important is what is best for Suki. This journey is also different from most training journeys because it is a recovery. Most of the time when horses are injured and you are bringing them back to work, the journey part is to make sure that you do it carefully and do not rush. So the journey is still vital, but the outcome is most important. The recovery portion of this was conducted slowly and with purpose. That part of the journey is over, and the result was a major success. Right now my work with Suki continues to bond us further, but the journey's end point remains a question mark.
With Nikki my goal is to get her ready for competition so I can get out there again! And while training has its ups and downs I am keeping my eye on the prize. While my current goals are not as lofty as they once were, that will likely change. When I think about riders who have won Olympic medals, I am sure they will say that the journey was amazing. But more amazing than standing on the podium with the big prize around their neck? Hmmm....