Sunday, May 3, 2015

Goal for sitting on Suki again: 9 July

With winter blues finally bidding a fond farewell, spring finally seems to be cautiously making its entrance.  In spite a few chilly days (and a snow flurry or two), May began with warm sunshine.  Time to move toward our summer goals, one step at a time...

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Plan for the day: lunge Nikki in full tack, 20 minute lunge for Suki; pull Nikk's mane.

I got started slightly later than originally anticipated (of course).  But in my defense, I was in writing mode and didn't want to stop until I had completed my thoughts.  I find it difficult at times to accomplish everything I would like to each day.  I am trying to make more realistic daily goals.  Today I feel like I was a bit overly ambitious.

I lunged Nikki in full tack as planned.  She worked beautifully.  Nicely forward, good on transitions, though I will admit they could have been better.  I was pleased with the lift that Nikki achieved over the trot poles, though when I changed direction she appeared surprised by their presence!  Pay attention princess!  I finished with leading exercises, rounding out a 30 minute session.

Suki came out of her stall a little stiff behind, so I was hesitant to do too much work with her today.  But it is always best to take a look and see if the horse works out of it.  After all, unbelievably, Suki will turn 15 on May 5th, so a little stiffness after a night n her stall is to be expected.  But I am completely overprotective of my horses and prefer to err on the side of caution.  As suspected, Suki was a little off behind, but worked out of most of it after just a few rounds of trot.  I still played it cautious and opted not to put her through trot poles.  I will contact my preferred lameness guy this week to have him take a look.  It is certainly possible that she needs hock injections, or perhaps her back.  Suki had her back injected in 2009 after extensive diagnostic testing revealed some inflammation.  It made a huge difference for her.  But let's take it one step at a time.  I want her to be able to work comfortably, of course.  And she does love to work.  I also need to be realistic about her back (the skin) and riding.  It holds up well under a surcingle but we have not yet tried a saddle.  In 4 weeks I hope to put a saddle on Suki, just to see how it goes.  Everything that is done will be in her best interest in mind.  I accepted from day one that she would likely be a 1400lb pet.  Suki is the one who showed me that she wanted more.

Nikki's mane did not get done.  After being at the barn for several hours I simply ran out of time.  Another day…. I hate when their manes look like this.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015
Rainy day yesterday so the girls had the day off.  We did some stretches in the barn to ward off any stiffness.  Surprisingly they were quite content, but today it was back to work.  Suki seemed about the same as yesterday to start, but after some forward canter work the stiffness was very slight.  I put her through the trot poles, allowing her to pick the pace and stretch.  In my experience trot poles do a great job of accentuating lameness behind, so it is often a good test.  Once again, no difference, but there is definitely something.  I am opting to continue light work, keeping the lunging on more straight lines rather than smaller circles.

Nikki was a bit sleepy to start this morning.  She had shavings in her forelock and looked like she needed a hit of caffeine to get going!  She did her downward dog stretch twice while on cross ties!  Once we got out to the arena she did a few head twirlies and moved out nicely.  I guess she woke up between the barn and the arena!!

I entered a contest last week for a blinged saddle pad from 2-point bling….and won!  Can't wait to receive it!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015
Some days I just want to sleep in.  Those days are rare for me but they do come up occasionally.  Today was one of those days.  I like to get up at 4:30 for a run then start work at 5.  My team for work is primarily in Europe, so I prefer to start early for reasonable overlap.  I desperately wanted to hit the snooze a second time this morning!

I could hear the girls talking to me as soon as I got out of the car, and they quite happily accepted the ginger snaps that I offered!  It made my sleepiness completely disappear.

After a brief lunge to loosen up I did some in hand work with Suki.  Today was one of those days when Suki anticipated movements, so I really had to change things up a bit.  She likes to take over if she thinks she knows what comes next.  Under saddle she would often do the same thing, especially with lateral work.  It was like an "I got this" attitude!  Once or twice she threw in a head twirly when I would not allow her to do what she thought should come next.  I must admit, I liked the attitude because she really demonstrated a desire to work.  And Suki did respond to what was asked, more promptly once she got over herself!  She is a chestnut mare, after all!

I haven't put the surcingle on yet this year, but I plan to do that next week.  There isn't any real reason to wait, other than I want to just get Suki used to working again.  She seems to be happy to get out into the arena although at times I wish she would contain that happy energy just a little!

Nikki worked in full tack, and my goal with her continues to be just to get her ready to be ridden.  That will be as soon as she has her teeth re-checked by the dentist.  She is tilting her head slightly in the bridle, which is always how she tells me she needs some work on her teeth.  The visit won't take very ing….Sean simply has to finish her back teeth since she became upset toward the end of his last visit a few weeks ago.  It was in her best interest to not push it any more and just follow up in  few weeks.  We didn't just let Nikki get her way.  Sean had worked with her and progressed quite far, giving her breaks.  But at the point we decided to stop she was just getting very upset.  He checked her mouth with his hands to finish the visit on a good note.  It was the appropriate thing to do, although some will always say we should not have backed down.  I am a supporter of the philosophy that you have to know when to stop, but finish on a good note and stress that it was your idea to stop and not the horse.

Thursday, 23 April, 2015
I got out of the car at the barn this morning and thought: "what a beautiful day!"  The sky was bright blue and the air crisp and cold.  Yes, beautiful…..if only it wasn't the end of April!  In fact later that morning the sky turned gray and snowflakes filled the sky.  Suki and Nikki are wearing mid-weight sheets.  That is because all of their heavier clothing has been sent to the blanket lady for clean and repair!  Are we sure it is April??

Friday, 24 April, 2015
Another cold start to the day.  But Suki and Nikki had yesterday off so today they had to work.  Even as I sit here writing this I am cold.  Just one of those days when the cold has gone deep inside.  The birds are happily eating from the feeders outside my window, though a few of them are puffed up to keep out the cold!

Grooming horses always gets me warmed up (well, maybe not so much in those sub zero temperatures!), so once I started to move around I was able to enjoy the soothing sounds of the barn.  Suki was quietly munching on hay, while Nikki searched my pockets for treats as I groomed her.  It was nice to enjoy the serenity of the barn.  Just me and the horses.  It truly is my favorite time of the day.  Just as I lifted my saddle off of the rack Nikki did her downward dog stretch accompanied by a BIG groan!  Stepping outside I think even she was surprised by the chill in the air and slight breeze.  In spite of the chilly morning (or because of it!) Nikki worked beautifully, stepping nicely forward into the contact of the side reins.

Suki stepped out of the barn just as breeze swept past making her puff up and "grow".  Of course she tossed her head and passaged next to me, so about half way to the arena I was questioning my sanity.  I growled at her and set her back to walk and halt several times and she did settle for the most part.  The first few times around on the lunge were at an extended trot, and I let her get it out of her system since she was not leaping or being disobedient.

Saturday, 25 April, 2015
I finally had time to shorten Nikki's mane.  I swear she is the only horse I know that drops her head all the way down and gets droopy lip while having her mane pulled!  I actually have to bend down to do it by the time I get up near her head.  Nikki's mane lies to the left side instead of the right.  I usually pull it after I fold it over to the right side which makes it difficult to gauge how even it is.  Today I decided to not fight nature and do it from the left side.  It was definitely easier that way!!

Earlier this week I won a saddle pad from 2-point bling (now Pippi-dressage paint), which arrived yesterday.  It is so pretty!  I have never had a saddle pad with bling.  Truly befitting the Queen that Suki is!  Here is Suki checking it out.

Sunday, 26 April, 2015
Suki was so distracted today!  She walked quietly out to the arena (well, at least there wasn't any passaging!).  Horses were calling to her, she was answering, twirling her head….anything to not focus on work.  She did eventually settle and work well though.  I was even able to get some nice passes through the trot poles, though I had to spread them to keep up with her stride!  That must very entertaining to watch as I try to keep up with her.

I try to keep lunging interesting and not stressful on the joints, so I can't wait to add long lining into the mix.  I wonder if she will remember how to do it?  Once she sees me fumbling with the lines until I get used to it again I am sure she will remember!

Friday, 1 May, 2015
Wow!  May 1 already.  In just a few days (5 May) Suki will turn 15.  In August we will have been together for 12 years.  How crazy is that!

The week of 27 April was crazy busy with work and family obligations.  But I managed to get some lunging in, and some very nice work out of both girls.

July 9 marks 6 years since the fire.  So now I have become obsessed with the goal of getting on Suki again: July 9th.  I think it is a realistic goal if everything points to her tolerating a saddle, and the long lining with side reins.  It seems to me that it would be a fitting date to aim for.

Saturday, 2 May, 2015
Interesting day today.  Nikki worked well in saddle and side reins, so tomorrow I will get on her.  Now for the past two years I have had Louise have the honors of riding Nikki after her winter off.  But she has injured her neck.  So I have to suck it up and do it myself.  I shouldn't even really be worried.  Nikki will most likely not care, and in spite of self doubts, I am a capable rider.  Louise is always my voice of reason when I worry about horse things, and she kindly offered to be there when I get on.  It's something I need to do on my own.

Suki came out of her stall super stiff.  I decided to lunge her any way to see if she would work out of it a bit.  Those first few steps looked bad, but then she was fine.  She was light and forward and quick to respond to directives.

While I was in the tack room a boarder that arrived last autumn came in.  I had met her daughter but not her.  She introduced herself and said  "I own X and X".  I introduced myself and identified my horses.  Her response: "OH, that poor bald horse!"  "I feel so sorry for her!"  I explained that she was in a fire, which she apparently knew, but continued going on about the "poor horse".  Again, I explained that she has fully healed, and is happy and healthy.  As she continued her rant I walked out of the tack room.

Sunday, 3 May 2015
Perfect day.  Lovely morning for a ride!  I lunged Nikki for about 10 minutes then brought her to the mounting block.  She turned around and looked at me in surprise, but I got on and off we went.  It was great to be back in the saddle after a long winter off!  I felt my entire body relax as I settled into the saddle and put my legs gently on Nikki's sides.  It's all good!

Suki came out stiff again, but worked out of it nicely.  Walk-trot-canter.  Nikki called to her a couple of times and only once did I see Suki's nostrils flicker in a silent response!

My beautiful girls…..


  1. Why is Nikki fussed with the dentist?

    1. She just gets nervous for some reason. I can't figure out why, since she has never had a bad experience, that I am aware of. And Sean is quiet and patient, giving her breaks when she starts to get a little tense. Nikki is so good about everything else…