Sunday, October 26, 2014

Suki and the Glory of Pursuit

I've said it before....horses are predictably unpredictable!  Early last week J parked a hay elevator outside next to the barn.  Naturally I assumed both Suki and Nikki would find this new addition as scarily objectionable scenery to encounter on the way to the arena.  Working Nikki first, out the door we went.  She glanced in the general direction of the elevator then continued her walk.  Same reaction on the way back.  Surprising, but not TOO surprising since Nikki doesn't usually pay attention to extraneous objects.  Suki, on the other hand has a history of dramatizing things (post meltdown.  pre meltdown she didn't seem to care as much).  Walking out the door I kept slack in the lunge line to prevent unnecessary anxiety.  Suki didn't even glance in its general direction!  And it was pretty impossible to miss.  On the way back she looked at it casually.  It's all good!

Monday, October 20, 2014
Cold morning at 29F.  I am glad that I had decided to dress Suki and Nikki in heavier clothing last night!  Because the temperatures keep fluctuating it is difficult to adapt.  But that's what extra layers are for.  Between the day off yesterday and the frigid morning I figured that I was in for an active morning in the arena!  I grabbed my bag of supplies (bottle of water, extra gloves, baggy with chopped carrots...what's in YOUR bag?!) and walked toward the barn.  The welcoming sound of the deep nicker of the girls made me smile as I opened the door.  Is there anything better?

I always wonder what the horses are thinking.  Yes, of course I know that they do not have the ability to reason, but I do believe that they have emotions.  I try not to anthropomorphize but I think we all do a bit of that.  Nikki hates having her belly brushed.  I use the softest brush possible and often just the buffing mitt.  She makes her opinion known by pinning her ears and swishing her tail.  Unfortunately this morning she has dirt stuck to her belly and manure.  So the grooming must be more aggressive out of necessity.  Nikki is not pleased!  She is sometimes cranky in the morning.  Does she absolutely hate working before breakfast every day?  Once we are in the arena she is fine.  But the grooming and tacking up part do not appear to be to her liking!  Post ride she LOVES to be rubbed down and pampered.  Then she happily munches hay in her stall until it is time for her breakfast.

This morning's cold air did not have any effect on her behavior.  I take the lunge warm up a bit slower on cold mornings when she has been in her stall all night.  In spite of the cold air Nikki works well.  My goals for now remain simple.  Light off the leg, soft in the hand.  Sharp transitions between and within gaits.  Mix it up with lateral work and my own patterns using the entire arena.  I am currently working on a collection of exercises which I will share.  No, I am not an expert, but I have learned what works for my horses and how to keep it fun for all of us.  Winter is closing in so my goals must be realistic as it is possible with the potential of having to shut down due to snow and ice.  Maybe we will have better luck this year.

Suki was raring to go after an apparently good night's sleep, evidenced by the shavings in her mane and tail!
From the moment we stepped out of the barn Suki was on the go.  She lifted her head and nickered as we exited the barn, with Nikki letting out a loud whinny in response.  I asked her for several halts on the way to the arena to give her focus and something positive to transfer that energy to.  Suki listened and we had a lovely walk to the arena.  I could see her right ear twitch on occasion, knowing that she wanted to misbehave, and was so proud of her for listening to me instead.  Out on the lunge was a different story, at least at first.  Suki gave a head twirl and launched into her big trot, turning to grab the lunge line in her mouth.  Since I had not asked for the trot, I brought her back to walk for a few strides then right back to trot.  She needed to expend that energy but also needed to remember that I make the decisions not her!  After a few more head twirls and a grab or two at the lunge she settled a bit.  We moved on to transitions between walk and trot then I asked for the canter.  The response was a squeal and a buck, so after twice around at the canter I brought her back to trot and asked again.  This was met with a few head twirls, so again, a few trips around then back to trot.  The next canter transition was perfect and she settled completely after that.  Some days are just like that.  I always go out with a game plan.  The plan, however, is not inflexible.  It is critical to gauge the athlete each day and adjustments need to be made.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
I could hear the rain as soon as i opened my eyes this morning.  The rain that was not supposed to start until later.  Uggh!  I want to work the girls today because they will be getting fall vaccs this afternoon.  Both suffer a little soreness after that (even with bute) so I always just do a light lunge the next day.  It's chilly this morning so if the rain is too heavy I won't take them out.  Heavy sheets are necessary because of the temperature so a very wet horse will not work!  I dressed to ride hoping for the best.  The rain subsides as Isaiah gets on the school bus so I am once again, hopeful.

Just a slight drizzle as I begin to tack up Nikki so I get the job done as quickly as possible.  Then it begins to pour.  So we wait.
All dressed up with no place to go
And we wait....
Napping on the cross ties
Finally the rain slows and out we go!  A quick lunge to loosen up and I get on.  The rain begins to get heavy again, but we continue to work, as we are both already wet!  It was a short ride, but effective and pleasant.  I jogged Nikki back to the barn as the rain continued.  Of course about 3 minutes later the rain stopped!  I threw a mesh cooler on Nikki then a polar fleece on top.  She dried quickly.

By the time I brought Suki to the cross ties the rain was heavy once again with no real sign of slowing in the immediate future.  So after a good grooming I worked on some stretches with Suki and called it a day.

Sunday, October 26, 2014
I have a report to work on today, so both Suki and Nikki will just get lunged.  Judging by the wind that could be pretty exciting!

I didn't see the girls at all yesterday, and honestly, they seemed to have missed me!  I know I missed them.  It was tempting to stop in and see them on my way home last night but I still had a lot to do there as well.  When I opened Nikki's stall door to give her the morning treat she pressed her face into my chest BEFORE she took the piece of apple!  I rubbed her ears and spoke softly to her.  Of course she started banging on her door as I walked down to Suki's stall!  She too, rushed to the door to greet me, looking to my pockets for extra goodies.

In spite of the wind, Nikki worked beautifully through trot and canter poles.  She didn't even scoot this time when I ran beside her as she came through the trot poles.  Nikki has been a little pushy while being led so I worked on leading exercises after the lunge session.  She wanted to step ahead when I first started the halts, but after a couple of reprimands it was all fine.  I don't think she likes that work the way Suki does.

The wind was really strong by the time I brought Suki out, but she worked like a champ.  Even when Amy left with Bear and walked up the driveway, one sideways glance was all she did but I brought her right back to focus.  She floated through the trot poles.  First trip through them as canter poles she jumped them, but not with anxiety....just for fun.  We finished with 5 minutes of leading exercises and went in.

Both were anxious to have breakfast and get outside.  The sun was shining and the sky was blue.  The wind added a nip of crisp autumn air.  Suki tried to be pushy on the way to her pasture but a quick correction and she was fine.  She knows that with me it is important that she waits to be turned around and unclipped before moving off into her field.  So after gently taking a treat she quietly turned then galloped away.  Nikki looked up as Suki raced past her, then resumed grazing.

It is always important to keep things in perspective.  The goals.  The path.  The journey.  The JOY.  Take each goal attained and revel in its own glory.  Yes, we pursue glory in this sport.  Lately my glory comes in baby steps.  But after reading Courtney King Dye's book I am once again reminded as she was told by George Morris to savor the glory of the pursuit.

No comments:

Post a Comment