Friday, November 7, 2014
Does anyone else love a gray November day as much as I do? Today started gray and ominous, with a light wind that was expected to pick up later in the morning. Temperature was 44F, so it wasn't really cold, but the grayness and wind made it feel like a late autumn day.
Driving to Oley Valley Feed I noticed a change in the Oley Valley from just a few weeks earlier. The look of autumn. The colors of the leaves on the mountains are beginning to fade and many of the trees are now devoid of leaves. Corn fields have been chopped to the ground. Still my beautiful valley, but the transition to winter is obvious.
After picking up my supplies I asked about the price of the pumpkins (heirloom and regular) on the porch of OVF. I love being surrounded by pumpkins and can never fully comprehend why so many people abandon them after Halloween! They told me to just take some. I said that I was willing to pay for them, but was then told that they appreciate my business, so happy to just have them used. This is what I like about living in a more rural area and knowing the merchants that I deal with on a regular basis. So very different from the crazy busy area of North Jersey where I grew up! Here I go to the small businesses as often as possible because the slightly higher prices are accompanied by great service and appreciation. I love that they know who I am, and enjoy the regular interaction. I think I will take some baked goods to the OVF gang on Monday!
Driving home I had to pass the former Pink Star Equestrian Center site of the fire), now a standardbred breeding farm. I looked at the indoor arena where I last rode Suki (it was converted to a barn) and the space where her barn used to stand. Sometimes I am okay when I drive by and other times, like today, I feel a heavy sadness in my heart. But just as I choked back tears I passed the last field of the properties where a pile of yearlings or two-year olds dozed together in the almost sun that was breaking through the clouds. It made me smile. The sadness was gone.
Earlier this week....
Tuesday morning was not particularly cold, windy, etc. Nothing unusual about the day. But for some reason the girls were a bit silly! This time of year they always work after being in all night and before they are turned out for the day. In the summer they are worked after being out all night. Turnout schedule has been changed for awhile, so other than some stiffness at the start of work Suki and Nikki work as they usually do. Cold and windy days definitely add a bit of spring to their step, but they always settle nicely. There is the occasional buck or leap, of course!
Nikki came out of her stall a bit sleepily this morning, a mane and tail full of shavings revealing a flat out snooze over night. A little cranky in the cross ties, but she hates to have her belly brushed and it too was covered in shavings stuck in place from a bit of manure that she must have been lying on. On the walk out to the arena she was fine, doing her arabesques along the way. After a few times around on the lunge at the walk I asked her for a trot which was followed by a mini-squeal and some head twirlies. That was it for her and she worked well the rest of the time.
Suki gave no real indication of being excited as we walked out to the arena but when I put her out on the lunge she walked at a brisk pace. First few trot steps were big but she worked well at transitions within the gaits and some lovely lengthenings! I turned her toward the four trot poles and on the approach she rocked back onto her hind end and jumped all four of them. This, of course, was followed by a buck, squeal and canter. I'm not really sure how I managed to not interfere with the massive jump or get dragged by her! It would have been great to have that on video! I kept her at a nice, controlled canter for two or three times around then back to trot. The trot was great and I headed her toward the poles again. She went through beautifully. That was the end of the excitement. Just one of those days I guess!
I noticed a new development while I was moisturizing Suki's back this week. Little tufts of new hair on once-bare areas on her back.
|Look closely for the little chestnut tufts!|
Thursday, the 6th brought rain. It was a heavy rain with chilly temperatures so the girls didi not work. I did not want them to be so wet that I could not but blankets back on.
Nikki's opinion of the rain:
Suki likes to pretend that it is all good......
Fortunately the rain stopped for a bit in the afternoon so they did get out for a bit!
Friday, November 7, 2014
I have done a fair amount of writing this week. With my voice finally evident I am more confident that the Suki memoir will tell the story the way it should be told. For awhile I kept thinking that while I had written the facts in a cohesive, narrative manner that not enough of my emotion was there. I think I was afraid of what I was writing and holding my feelings in check. Then I read Courtney King's book. While it is not a great literary work, it is beautifully told and full of emotion. The good, the bad and the ugly. Suddenly I remembered why I was writing the book about Suki. To share our journey. The good, the bad and the ugly. And to be sure, there is plenty of raw emotion.
So on this chilly morning I had a plan. Light work for Nikki and a harder workout for Suki. As I started this post I mentioned the gray, damp, chilly morning. A light breeze to start followed by a steadier wind and 28MPH gusts later in the morning.
Nikki worked very nicely through a basic work out of transitions and nice forward gaits. She was in a happy mood and the transitions were nicely uphill. It was a little breezy but typically she is not bothered by this so there was just nice positive energy to work with. I have been starting each session with a few leading exercises that I had learned with Suki. Nikki can be like a large puppy at times. Which is fine, except that she weighs north of 1400lbs. I have, at times, been lax with her leading, allowing her to sort of drift beside me at times and walking at her own pace. These exercises remind her that there are rules! Then I massaged her face with the fleecy mitt and she closed her eyes to relax. Always a great way to finish!
OOH! I just looked up and a buck with a HUGE rack just walked through my yard. Up on the hill just behind my house! What a handsome boy!
Suki was very impatient from the moment I brought her out of her stall. My original plan was to do full workout with equipment: bridle and surcingle. I started to re-think this as the wind picked up and the drizzle started. As I finished wrapping the white polos (sometimes I am SUCH a DQ!) I decided to go for basic lunging focusing on transitions. It is always important to be flexible in your plans when working with horses. As riders we are nothing without our dance partners and need consider their mental status as well as physical. Even on competition days, you work with what you have at that time. So out we went. Jenn came out to take some new photos of the girls, but unfortunately missed Nikki. I started a bit earlier than anticipated and she was running a little late!
Suki walked out to the arena fine, though I sensed a little tension in my hands. The drizzle turned into rain and rain turned into sleet. Suki seemed unfocused in spite of there being fewer distractions than usual as she began work on the lunge. She kept shaking her head because of the sleet, which seemed to really annoy her (apparently divas don't do sleet! it wasn't heavy and it didn't last!) After a few walk-trot transitions I asked Suki to halt. She kept taking a few steps forward after several attempts, so I said fine....go forward! The big girl took a few steps forward then took a leap and a squeal and up she went!
She came down and I sent her forward. A few minutes later Suki went up again, then settled and worked fine. I still sensed a small amount of tension but she seemed to listen and focus more. Mares! Gotta love them!
So I just continue to move forward. Nikki needs to have a show season and I need to get on Suki. Goals. The glory of pursuit.