Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Suki, I Think It's Spring!

As I got out of the car at the barn this morning A flock of Canada geese noisily announced their return. This, coupled with the reappearance of the chipmunks on Sunday signals SPRING!  Yes, the trees are bare, the ground is frozen sitting under a small layer of muck and I am looking at remnants of snow in my yard as I write this, but I am optimistic that spring will soon begin.  I am choosing to ignore the snow in Thursday evening's forecast and the heavy snow symbol on my phone for Friday....

Suki had done a great job rolling the day before, so her neck and legs were covered in a lovely layer of dried mud.  Yes, I was wearing a layer of dirt when I finished grooming! Fortunately Nikki had not rolled, though she must have been sleeping in manure....

Stretches today were entertaining.  While stretching Suki's front legs she also stretched out her neck to touch her nose to my face!  Nikki rested her head over my shoulder.  Those two are like a comedy team!

I had the barn to myself so I worked on leading exercises and lateral work.  Nikki sometimes like to look at the horse in the stall near where we halt, but after a few growls she begins to focus.  If Suki starts to take an extra step after I stop walking she will immediately bring her leg back to the correct position.  I had left my dressage whip in the tack room so I just used my finger to move them laterally.  It's so funny that after one or two times using my finger both of them move side ways if I just point my finger at their side without even touching them!

Late this afternoon I went back to the barn to change the girls from sheets to blankets again.  Tonight it will be 27F.  I guess that is in preparation for that wintry mix Thursday night.  Suki and Nikki were in the paddock just behind the barn so I started to say hello to them while I opened the latch.  The instant I opened the door Suki pushed her face through and into the barn (and my jacket!).  This was just before I went to pick up Isaiah from Chess Club at school, so of course, even though I was showered and wearing "street clothes" I would no doubt arrive smelling like horses.  Suki had rolled again, but all I had time to do was change their clothing.  When I went back to the door to get Nikki, she too pushed her nose into the door going right to my pocket in search of a ginger snap!

Spring means training!  The long, cold, snowy winter (not as bad as some folks had it) is finally making its exit, so I will accept the last hurrah on Thursday night/Friday.  This morning my fingers were not frozen while moisturizing Suki's back, and both she and Nikki are shedding their winter coats.  There was no ice to break on the water buckets and I actually took off my coat to groom the girls!  Okay, so tonight I have to change them out of sheets and into blankets because of the temperature drop.  None of this will dampen my spirit.  I may not be able to put my training plans into action just yet because of the footing in the arena but there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel.  I may actually get the girls out in the arena some time next week!  

Recent fluctuating temperatures and thick ice between the barn and the arena have made working in the arena still impossible, and most days keeping us from working in the paddock as well.  But we have continued with the stretching and barn aisle lateral work.  And of course, the planning.  The winter weather even kept me from auditing dressage clinics.  I was able to watch a few dressage shows from WEF, and while inspiring, it also left me envious....

This Saturday I am going to audit an Andrea Velas clinic at Paul Belasik's farm.  She conducts them monthly there and included is a selected topic for demonstration during the lunch break.  Last winter I audited one of her clinics at another farm and like her teaching and training philosophy.  Not surprising since I am a fan of Paul Belasik's classical dressage training methods and use of in hand work.  The farm also offers the opportunity to ride one of their school masters in a clinic which I would like to take advantage of once I start riding again.  So I am excited about that.  Ideally I would love to send Nikki and Suki there for a few weeks.....


Last week as I watched Suki trot across the field she looked uneven behind.  I am not overly concerned yet.  Suki tends to be better when she is working regularly.  It has been a long winter and they have been turned out in paddocks a lot because of icy fields.  My plan is to have my lameness guy give her a full examination a few weeks after I start her back to work.  I want to catch any problems before we start serious training.  My plan is to start with 3 days a week for the first couple of weeks then move to 4 days then 5.  The first week will be without equipment, then start with surcingle and add side reins.  We will begin with 10 minute sessions then increase.  That should give me an idea about soundness before I have the vet out to evaluate.  Then we can plan accordingly.

Nikki will start with a week of lunging also, before I get on her for the first time this season.  I cannot wait to get back in the saddle!

It will be nice when when blankets are no longer necessary (other than Suki's fly sheet, of course), though they prevent full body coverage of mud.  Spring is often thought of as a time of new hope, as flowers and trees burst to life.  For me it is a time of hope.  I will know for sure if Suki will be able to be ridden again and get to see what Nikki can do in the show ring.  Suki has come a long way since the fire and now it is time to attempt the next big step.  Even if the dream of riding her again is never realized, Suki has come farther than anyone ever expected since that night of the fire when she was admitted to the hospital.

Spring hope is somewhat like New Year's resolutions.  Best to keep the goals realistic, while allowing oneself to dream and think big.

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