Saturday, August 2, 2014

Suki Meets a FaceBook Friend as We March Toward Our Goal of Dancing Again

We continue to make progress lunging with the surcingle.  The periodic lameness/stiffness continues to plague us, but coincides with the hardness of the arena footing so I am working as I can.  On days when the footing is particularly hard I do leading exercises and stretches in addition to the daily spa treatments.  After the discussion with my farrier last week this seems to be the best solution for now.

Nikki has that weird superficial cut on the underside of her fetlock that causes it to swell.  Her skin is really sensitive, and she does seem to be sound on it.....I am working her lightly just in case.  She is having an unplanned few days off due to my schedule this week, which I am sure she is enjoying!

Sunday, July 27, 2014
Suki worked nicely on the lunge though she was showing a little stiffness.  She was balking a little walking out to the arena, so I think that might be her still getting used to wearing the surcingle.  Once in the ring she moves off willingly so I know that she is certainly comfortable enough wearing it.  There continues to be no evidence of the skin under the saddle pad and surcingle having any trauma, and no signs of rubbing.  So onward!

I keep the work light when there is stiffness, and don't push for the full elevation of her gaits, but don't eliminate it completely unless the ground is hard. The main goal right now is to increase fitness gradually since we are uncertain of how much lung damage there may be (or not).  So far I have not encountered any issues even on the days Suki works the hardest.  Respiratory rate returns to normal pretty quickly even when she is sweaty from the work or the air is heavy with humidity.  Some days I feel like I am spinning my wheels over how to proceed, since I am doing it all on my own.  Sticking to the basic principles of starting a young horse that I was taught (and I feel is correct) but taking it down a notch slightly due to the skin situation it seems to be going well.  Within the next week or so I will be kicking it up a notch as I add the bridle again then side reins.  I wonder what Suki's first reaction will be to feeling pressure from the side reins.....The very first time she wore side reins for lunging when she was 3 years old, Suki hesitated only slightly, furrowed her brow, then moved forward.  That was the way she accepted everything.  No drama.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Cool temperatures and overcast sky.  I will not complain about that!  This summer, with the exception of a few days here and there has been quite pleasant.  All of that could change in August, but for now I will enjoy it.

The girls and their hay dunking!  They each dunk in one bucket and keep the other one clean for drinking.
Suki moves her entire pile of hay in front of the door because it is closer to her bucket for easy dunking.
Nikki kept trying to walk out the door toward me so she is not in the picture of her dunking bucket!!  She too, moves her hay closer to the bucket, but not as much at one time.

Nikki had awesome energy right from the start in her lunge warm up.  I kept that brief so that I could enjoy such enthusiasm from the saddle.  The cool breeze and lack of bug attacks made for an awesome ride.  I worked on a lot of large figures with a bit of collected and medium gaits.  Nikki's responses were nicely quick (okay, except for that right lead canter lengthening down the long side when she tossed her head and didn't come back as quickly as she should have!  We remedied that the next time as I stopped my back more insistently).  Then I moved on to some smaller figures and a bit of spiraling circles, finishing with a big stretchy trot.  She practically had her nose to the ground and was nice and loose in her back!

The abrasion is looking better and does not seem to bother Nikki other than the slight stocking up in that fetlock.  Again, I think it is just because she has sensitive skin.  There are only two fly sprays that i can use on her because everything else causes hives!  I may have to create my own recipe!

Suki was feeling very good again today.  She did her big gaits without stiffness or hesitation and also seemed to enjoy the breeze and bug free session.  The mower was parked to the side of the barn as we exited to go to the arena.  Since the fire I have found that Suki sometimes is more reactive to change, so I expected her to give it a look and perhaps shy from it slightly.  She turned her head to look at it but did not balk or react adversely.  Since Suki has been back in regular work I am finding that this is how she reacts.  The horses in the field don't seem to bother her or the windy days.  She has yet to see the resident heron take flight though.....  Today she was not quite as sharp with the transitions initially but after some quick and repetitive transitions that improved.  I think she just felt really good!  But it was nice to see that she could also be refocused.  Following the ride I examined Suki's back, especially the graft area.  All is good.  I breathe a sigh of relief each time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
We had special visitors today!  Kathryn, a FaceBook fan was driving cross country from Northern California to Boston with her friend Terrie keeping her company.  Kathryn will be attending grad school in Boston.  She contacted me awhile back and asked if she could stop to visit.  So today was the day.  
Kathryn is on the left, and Terrie is the one with crutches.  I thought Suki would react to someone on crutches because of the sound, etc, but yet again i have under estimated the big girl.  She didn't bat an eye!  Kathryn had not been around horses for awhile and Suki seemed to know that.  She can occasionally be standoffish when she first meets people but she let Kathryn scratch her face AND ears! Kathryn has had some health issues and said that she finds Suki inspiring.  My brave chestnut mare has such a gift of healing.....

Kathryn said that as good as Suki looks in the photos, she looks even better in person.  And Suki's big diva personality wins the heart of everyone that she meets.  I have this dream of doing a book signing at Dressage at Devon, with Suki by my side for the meet and greet........

I love meeting Suki's FB friends.  It makes me see just how much of an impact her story has on people. I am inspired by her courage, because as i have said in the past Suki was far braver than I was during her recovery.  I drew from that and learned to appreciate life just a bit more.  

On Thursday and Friday Isaiah did not have camp, so on each day we went to the barn to groom the girls.  On Thursday I lunged Suki, while Isaiah sat on the mounting block asking questions.  He was somewhat surprised by how much of her back did not have hair (his vantage point on the mounting block was higher than he usually is!).  But he liked watching her work and helped me groom.  It was a fun time for me.

On Friday I lunged Nikki and he told me again how much he wants to sit on her.  I think it would be fine.  I can just lead her around with him in the saddle.  Coming soon.... 

Isaiah likes to lead them each into their stalls after grooming, and they like to snuffle him for treats!
Suki looking for treats in Isaiah's backpack
Nikki snuffling Isaiah's head
Isaiah and I also made a trip to Fisher's farm stand for some yummy local corn (Mirage this week) and other goodies.  I think we get spoiled by the beautiful local produce available just 10 minutes from our house.  We continue to monitor the height of the corn in the fields as we drive through corridors of corn fields, trying to predict which group will be next to harvest.  But tonight I will cook the Mirage corn, local green beans, tomatoes with mozzarella and my home grown basil and cornish hens on the grill.  I will also continue to nurture my little equestrian but his own natural enthusiasm and love of animals is evident in his actions "Suki is awesome!"  "When can I ride Nikki?".  As Suki has reminded us to embrace each day.

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