Monday, October 26, 2015

Suki and Nikki Settling Well at the New Barn

It has been a difficult month since we lost Ripley.  The house is so empty.  I work from home, and though Cecil and Bentley (our cats) are always nearby, Ripley's absence is palpable.  I am so used to turning around to look at him sleeping in his bed behind me.  When I go outside to put out bird seed, bring in the trash can, etc Ripley always joins me.  Bentley has been sleeping in Ripley's bed every day, so I can tell that he misses his friend.  They would often run to the door together to greet us when we arrived home. Ripley had a long, happy life and we were lucky to have him in our family.  It is always so hard to lose our pet children, but they complete our families, fill our hearts and make the world a better place just by being here.

During this time I have moved Suki and Nikki to a different barn.  It is a little further from my home, but with an indoor arena we will not have to stop training all winter as we have been forced to do the past two winters.  There is also  lovely outdoor arena and a round pen.  The care is excellent, and Jen (barn manager, her family owns the farm) was one of the vet techs that treated Suki she was at New Bolton.  So I know the girls are in capable hands!  Moving is always a bit of an adjustment, but they have settled in nicely and are being exposed to all kinds of new things!

I need to have  bit of work done on my trailer so I asked Janet at the barn to transport the girls.  I also enlisted the help of Louise, since as many of you know, Suki has not been the best at loading onto a trailer in the past few years.  I was less worried about Nikki because the last few times she has walked right in with little hesitation.  My plan was to give them both a little acepromazine to "take the edge off" for loading.  Louise brought a friend with her (always good to have additional troops!).  Jackie said that she would be willing to load Suki because without any history she thought she could get her to walk right on.  I was all for it since I knew I might anticipate that she might NOT walk right on!  Another boarder was hand grazing her horse near the barn, so I asked her if she could move more toward the arena since Suki can be difficult to load and I wanted as few distractions as possible.  It was not a boarder that I knew well, and she seemed annoyed by my request.  REALLY?  I mean I asked nicely.  She did move though.  The plan was to start with Suki, because as with other things that the diva finds not to her liking, if he anticipates that something is going on, she becomes difficult.  I was sent to the tack room to wait.  From there I heard a "thud, thud, thud, thud".  She did NOT walk right on?!  Well, she did, but came back out.  After a bit of time had passed I heard the thudding again.  It was Nikki.  They changed gears, and decided to put Nikki on first.  She pretty much walked right in.  Suki was still being difficult so I joined in the fun.  Suki does not respond well to some of the traditional methods of persuasion, like a lunge line behind her butt….she panics.  Ultimately we boxed her in and I tapped her with a broom, Jackie led her, Janet was in the trailer with grain, and Louise guided her from the other side by lifting each foot.  THEN she walked on.  No nervousness, didn't try to back out again….just walked on quietly.  This is her game.  She never seems upset, just doesn't want to do it!!  Then she gets bored with the game and walks on.  We will be working on loading so that she can begin attending events, like summer camps for burn survivors, shows and hopefully book signings!

When we arrived at the new barn Suki and Nikki calmly walked off the trailer and into the barn.
Since then they have settled in nicely, adjusting to the more lively atmosphere of this barn.  There was not a lot of activity at our previous barn, so often when the horses were in they would likely not see anyone for many hours.  Here, there are more people riding, midday change of turnout for some horses, water checked, etc.  So even if the girls are in they see a lot!  When they come back to their stalls in the late afternoon there are usually people riding or grooming….always something to see.

Suki and Nikki were a bit nervous in the wash stall initially, as they had not been in one for quite awhile.  But they got used to it pretty quickly.  Sometimes they push forward on the cross ties to watch a horse in the indoor or perhaps to try touch to another horse as they pass by.  They are getting used to the dogs as well.  It is so good for them as I can see now just how sheltered they were!  They saw tractors, and sometimes other people but not often enough.

I have been working Suki and Nikki in the indoor, and while they had been a bit nervous at first, they are doing great now!  When there are noises and activities outside they react, but quickly come back to focus, and have eased into not reacting much at all.  I love this barn!  Everyone that I have met is really nice and while we may ride in different disciplines, there is sensibility.  I won't elaborate on that comment.

I boarded at the other barn for 5 years and it worked for awhile (obviously!).  But because it isn't really full service I often had to go twice a day if a sheet or blanket needed to be pulled off or changed due to temperature fluctuations.  I won't anything bad to say about that farm.  Different barns offer different services, etc.  And that is fine.  I just needed something more.  And an indoor.  In fact, I wasn't even going to say that much, but then I heard that rumors were being spread that I had already left my new barn.  That made me angry.  I am loving my new barn and though it is further away, I don't have to go every day and especially not twice a day.  That is a tremendous relief and enables me to focus on other things as well as my horses and riding!

Okay, I also love that Fito leads Suki and Nikki to and from the pasture together!  They walk so calmly with him. So funny.  I love it!  When I have Suki out of her stall Nikki calls to her then calls REALLY loud as I am walking her back down the aisle.  Suki calls to Nikki once after we leave then again on the way back.  I have noticed that Nikki doesn't bang her stall the way she used to.  Perhaps she does at feeding time, but since they are just outside the feed room They are the first stop for the feed cart.

The area in which I live has been experiencing some crazy temperature fluctuations.  We have had a killing frost, a few snow flakes and temperatures in the 70sF!  So yes, we are back to the blanket dance!  I love the cold weather but I must admit, that early killing frost got the last of our local corn.  Fisher's has the most AMAZING sweet corn!  They plant in such a way that we typically have fresh corn (picked that day) well into October.  But not if we have a killing frost.  I do have some in the freezer though!

Suki and Nikki had a bit of an experience with wild turkeys last week.  Apparently when they first saw the turkeys they were afraid and ran around their pasture.  Then the turkeys decided to take a stroll down the driveway which borders the girls' pasture, so Suki and Nikki followed them down the fence line next to the driveway.  But THEN those big birds took flight, sending the girls into a tizzy again!  So funny.  I have had one other experience with a wild turkey, while riding Jenny in a field a number of years ago.  We were just walking quietly along in tall grass (Jenny hated to hack, so having her out and somewhat relaxed was quite an accomplishment!) when we startled a turkey who quickly took flight.  As they are not graceful when they take off, and quite noisy, I found myself back at the barn, feeling Jenny's heartbeat against my legs!  Needless to say I was not able to get her back out into that field.  We made some progress when I was able to get her out along the dirt road!

The next challenge for Suki and Nikki was to cross the stream in their pasture.  Each morning when they are turned out they walk down to the stream to take a drink.  Until last week they had yet to cross it.  Then I received a text from Jen that they were on the other side of the stream!  The big question remained: would they cross back on their own!  They did, with Suki splashing through and Nikki jumping it.  Now they cross the stream regularly.

A few weeks ago it was time for fall vaccinations.  Nikki is always great about these things.  Suki…well, she gets a bit worried.  Jen H is well aware of how difficult Suki can be about medical treatments, but Suki has really improved about everything but new barn, new vet, who knows?  i explained the best way to do it for minimum worry.  She was fine.  Yay!

The girls were also great for the farrier.  It was the farrier who has been doing their feet for several years, but of course I was concerned that they would be nervous in the cross ties.  They were both perfectly behaved.  It is always nice to get a positive report!

The best news is that the wound on Suki's back has completely healed so it is back to wearing a surcingle to make sure it is okay, then saddle and riding her again.  She was great about the bandage which managed to stay on in spite of rolling.  That allowed me to only have to change it every couple of days.  The last week that she was wearing it I was not applying any ointment to the area.  It was simply for padding.  Some people have chastised me in the past for using a bandage for extra padding, but it is the best way to protect such an area when you have a horse that revels in the joys of rolling.  I stopped padding it last week and even with rolling (Suki has been wearing clothing even on warm days(just a fly sheet and only when she was outside)) it looks great.  Back in business!

Yesterday we tried a little experiment with painting.  Well, with Suki painting.  Suki is going to be doing hoof print paintings.  Armed with non-toxic, water-based acrylic paints and canvas on cardboard Jen I set to work.  Suki was actually pretty cooperative which surprised me somewhat (I really need to learn to trust my girls!).  Suki doesn't wear shoes so I was thinking that I would get a print of the rim and frog.  But the hard back of the canvas didn't leave enough of an impression.  So we are going to try a different method.  back to the craft store for supplies!

Stay tuned…….

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