Saturday, July 19, 2014

Suki has that ol' spark in her eye and spring in her step!

It seems like summer is just flying by, and I am not as close to my goal of sitting on Suki in the autumn as I would like to be.  But I didn't see exactly WHEN in autumn, did I?  Hard ground and occasional stiffness (Suki's) have kept the lunging activity down a bit.  But I have been putting the surcingle on her and walking her around so perhaps Sunday (20 July) I will finally get to lunge her in it.  No side reins yet, of course.  Slow but steady progress.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A cool and cloudy start to the day.  Perfect for riding.  And I really must comment on the corn.  The earliest fields are really tall and apparently producing.  Last week I bought Sugar Pearl corn.  Let me just say....YUMMY!!

Suki and Nikki were near the top of their field as I drove down the driveway, and with the overcast sky and cool temperatures I expected to be marching out into the wet field to get them.  But just as emerged from my car I began to feel the earth shake!  They were galloping to the gate!  I would have loved to have caught that on video.  The overall conditions fooled me into thinking that the flies might not be so bad.  However, as I approached the gate I could see flies on both of their faces and surrounding their heads.  Then I understood their enthusiasm for coming in!  I always marvel at how in spite of the fact that they have been grazing on a lush field all night, that as I turn Suki around to close the gate she DIVES to get grass in the paddock behind the barn.  One last bite before being in her stall for the day, in front of a fan and eating fragrant lovely hay!

At nearly 7:15 AM I was running late by my weekend standards.  Of course while tacking up Nikki she had to do two downward dog stretches plus the arabesque.  Then she kept snuffling my head while I put on her polos, nibbled on my butt during hoof picking.  Silly girl this morning, that's for sure!

Once out in the arena (following the slowest walk EVER!) Nikki was ready to work.  She looked good on the lunge, stretching and working though her back nicely.  I lunge for a couple of minutes without side reins before connecting them.  I was taught this method and believe it serves better as a warm up.  Is that what most people do? Today I shortened the side reins one hole to sit Nikki back on her hind end a bit more.  Keeping the lunging session brief, I brought Nikki to the mounting block where she stood like a rock.  Isn't it about time for her to be a nudge about that again.....

What an awesome ride!  Nikki was light in the hand, forward and pushing nicely from behind.  Taking advantage of that, I worked a bit on shortening and lengthening of stride.  Every day is not like this.  Nikki always works well, but this morning's energy and lightness was beyond her usual working mode.    I loved it!  When the Blue Heron in the adjacent field took flight, Nikki scooted briefly (it startled both of us!) but settled right back to work.  Again I took advantage of such lovely energy.  Hating to end the ride, I knew that I had to so that Nikki could finish with good energy and sharp listening skills.  She earned two immediate post ride sugar cubes that time!

Because Suki worked yesterday, today I just did some stretches with her.  Then I put on the lunging surcingle, tightening it quite a bit more than I have been.  She did make a bit of a face, but I swear it is just for affect!  I am so pleased with how the graft area looks in spite of aggressive rolling, and not always having a fly sheet on.  It gives me confidence that the surcingle portion of our training will go well!

With continued cloud cover and rain predicted for tonight, Suki will be able to go out without her fly sheet.  While I still garner some minor concerns about this, she has done quite well, even when there is rolling involved.  And I must admit, I am loving the nights without the fly sheet, because i don't have to return to the barn to put it back on her!  When the days are not too hot Suki wears the light weight flysheet in her stall, also eliminating a second trip to the barn.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Oh yeah, that spark is back!  Suki was so amazing on the lunge line today!  The rain has made the footing perfect, so even barefoot Suki is feeling the comfort.  (I continue to debate her need for shoes...).  There was so much float to Suki's gaits today, almost beyond description, but it is what I remember riding.  Ears forward, listening to every command, she just took my breath away.  Since the fire Suki's attitude has never wavered.  She has always been happy and healthy enjoying every day of her life.  But since I started working her on a regular schedule, at increased intervals and and demand, I have noticed a change.  She seems more relaxed in her stall, and happily anticipates heading to the arena for work.  The process has to be slow but I feel like I am keeping Suki's work interesting enough to prevent boredom.

Nikki, too worked well.  Maybe it was just that kind of day.  I set up the trot poles again and did an exercise where I trotted her through followed by a change of direction through the ten meter circle then back through the poles.  This exercise worked well for Nikki and we really improved on the correctness of the circles and the boldness of the large distance between the poles.  To finish I had Nikki on a long rein doing big stretchy trot serpentines.

With another cool, rainy evening ahead Suki was able to go out without her fly sheet again.  I will be going to the barn at 6:30 tomorrow morning so even if there is a bit of sun I will be able to get the girls in before it is too intense.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Cloudy start to the day, with low humidity and a lovely breeze.  Certainly not a typical July day for this part of the country, so I will enjoy it while it lasts!

Suki and Nikki were happily grazing in their field when I pulled in the driveway but lifted their heads to acknowledge my arrival.  There wasn't a gallop to the gate, but they made their way to the gate, ears forward and tails happily moving from side to side.

This is Suki warning Nikki to stay back because "I'M FIRST"!  Like Nikki doesn't know that after living with Suki for 4 years!

Nikki, staying back...look at that sweet face!
Suki, pretending that she had not been making the mean face!

Light ride for Nikki.  Bo (the dog) came running down the driveway and into the arena.  He hasn't done that in awhile so it did surprise me.  He used to chase the horses, then stopped but I really felt like that was his plan today!  Bo had followed Amanda and Ophelia down the driveway and usually he follows her into the barn.  At first I continued to ride thinking he would do just that, but once he ran into the arena at Nikki's heels I just halted her.... and Bo just sat too!  Was pretty funny.  Then Rob called him up to the house and off he went.  It was a good experience for Nikki.  Then we went back to work.  I had actually been just about finished, but thought it was best to work her a bit more as though nothing unusual had happened.  After her shower I did a bit of massage on Nikki.  Her lip drooped and she closed her eyes.  I would call that relaxation!!

Since Suki had worked yesterday I decided to put on the surcingle and walk her around.  First I did stretches and massaged her shoulders and back.  I tightened the surcingle more than I have in the past and we walked around a bit.  Just a few leading exercises out back, but a good amount of movement for Suki to feel the surcingle move on her body.  I am not thrilled with how the Success Equestrian saddle pad fits with the surcingle.  I would love to try the BeneFab dressage pad.

Suki's skin looks wonderful.  I guess all these years of perfecting her skin care regimen have paid off.  Once a week I perform a more aggressive exfoliation then a deeper massage with a more oily moisturizer.  But she always gets Olay for sensitive skin with SPF 15 on her face.

Friday, July 18, 2014
Today I decided to do some in hand work with Nikki followed by a brief lunge session to let her stretch out.  I did get some nice piaffe steps, but because I haven't done it in awhile there was some ear pinning at first until she understood what I wanted.  Always followed by the the sugar cube reward!

After grooming Suki I put the surcingle out and walked her out back behind the barn.  After walking around for a few minutes I tightened the girth and asked for a few trot steps.  She did great!  The surcingle slipped slightly so after an adjustment we did some more trot steps.  It was a banner day!

Saturday, July 19, 2014
I was a bit delayed for a Saturday morning and did not arrive at the barn until 7:30!  In my defense, I got sucked into a large book about the Spanish Riding School from the 1970's.  It is a wonderful book, that I borrowed from the local library, but I think that I will need to seek it out for purchase.  This book would be a wonderful addition to my own library!

Once again the girls followed my car and arrived at the gate.  A cool cloudy morning, and Suki thought that she might not like to come into the barn.  This is a game that she plays from time to time.  Just her diva personality shining through!

I had a great ride on Nikki, focusing on lateral work.  A little shoulder in to half pass worked nicely and some really lovely medium trots!  I think I held her back a little on the canter lengthenings though...

I lunged Suki nicely forward and added some shortening and lengthening of stride as well.  She was a bit distracted at first, looking far into the field, but settled nicely into work.  Searching for sugar cubes after wards, of course, just like Nikki.  How I love my girls!

I think tomorrow I will lunge her in the surcingle.  Stay tuned....

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