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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lightenting Crashes

We had a nasty storm last night. It had been gloomy all day long, but I really didn't think much of it when I loaded up the car with clean horse laundry, Turi and me. It drizzled my whole drive, but again it is spring in Chicago. It has been cold, but again it is spring in Chicago and completely unpredictable. When I arrive at the barn I go straight to Gramarye's stall, as I haven't seen her since last week. The barn is closed on Mondays and then last Tuesday the vet gave shots, which meant she was off Wednesday. I rode on Thursday and she was good, but then I went to Michigan to celebrate my Mother's birthday as well as my parents 45th wedding anniversary. I did ride Zion over the weekend, but that is another story. Back to Gram, she was very happy to see us, and very calm, especially considering she has pretty had about 10 days off of the last 12, our riding has been sporadic at best. After some quality time in the grooming stall, and lots of kisses and treats, it was time to make a decision. She was so good, I thought, what the heck, I will just get right on without lunging. The first 10 minutes were pretty good. She let out baby bucks and head tosses, but that is pretty normal for her if I don't consistently ride. We did walk, trot, canter in both directions, our normal warm up.
Then the big storm hit! The indoor is very well insulated so you never really hear the storms, but last night, it was as if there was not an ounce of insulation in the barn! The crashing and flashes of light it was first caught Gram's attention, then the hail came crashing into the side of the metal barn, and then the Pièce de résistance the metal doors lifted out and banged back into the metal walls. I could sense Gram's eyeballs rolling back in her head.

So I thought to myself, the smart thing to do is to calmly get off her back. So I kept talking, trying to talk over the sounds coming from mother nature as well as the barn boogie monsters. I pat her neck, and slowly leaned forward to test if she would explode. I toook my time and carefully lifted my leg cautiously, but ready to be put right back in case I needed to hold on, and then past the point of holding on positioned myself for a dismount that would hurt the least if she took off. To my shock, she stood like an old pro. Once my feet were firmly planted on the ground, I gave her a good face rub, and plenty of praise. Not a second later Gram lost it! She started screaming, the barn was also, so I couldn't really blame her. The loudest crash yet, and Gram wanted to take off. Even though she was about to lose her mind, she was very aware of where I was, and I think tried not to hurt me. Last year she would have just bolted for fear of her life and no regard for mine. Needless to say I was proud of my big girl.

I decided to let the storm pass over a bit, and then brought her back into the indoor to lunge to get some kinks out. She was good, jumped and kicked a couple of times, and then she was ready to work. Since it was a stressful night, I let her end without getting back in the saddle. We spent some more quality hand walking time, and then I put her to bed. Even though we didn't accomplish much, I was so very proud of her growth and maturity to handle herself while a huge storm lingered above us!

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