On the day before spring break I asked my students to write down their expectations for the free time away from school. To help them get started I modeled the assignment on the Smartboard:
I can't wait to have two weeks at home with my animals! Although it would be wonderful to go away to some place warm and sunny, I prefer to be where my animals are. Everyday I will be able to wake up without an alarm clock and take my time while feeding the horses and doing chores. Then I will have the whole morning while the horses, donks and goats are eating hay to write, write, write...and write!
When I need a break I will pull on my winter coat and head out to the barn with my pack of little dogs in tow. We will round up the goats and donks for a long walk in the woods. Along the way we will look for small signs of spring. This year we may only find melting snow. Next, I will put my horses out in their paddocks for the day and clean stalls in the barn. Perhaps it will be warm enough for them to have their blankets pulled off. Then they can soak up the sun: maybe even stretch out in the snow to sunbathe.
After lunch I will stretch out and take a nap myself. Maybe I will bundle up and sleep out on the hammock in front of the roaring flames in our outdoor fireplace. Huxley will whimper to be picked up and tucked into the blanket with me. Fiona will settle in front of the fire on a blanket. In the late afternoon I will tack up one of the horses. They all have had a restful winter with very little riding. Off we will go through the woods for an exhilarating workout in the snow.
Later, I will create a delicious dinner that I actually have time to plan and prepare. Then I will curl up in my big chair with the dogs, exhausted after such a wonderful day. When I finally go to bed I will sleep deeply in preparation for the same adventure tomorrow! Ahh, nothing like spring break in the Adirondacks!
Well, my 16 day vacation has flown by! After this weekend my students and I will reunite in the classroom with the much anticipated new state tests looming just around the corner. The break was a welcome rest despite the disappointing cold weather that is keeping the 'spring' in spring break from coinciding with my time off. Aside from a peak of sunshine here and there it is difficult to detect any hint of the next season on the horizon.
In the last two weeks I seized the opportunity to visit friends with whom I share my passion for horses. Away from my own barn I enjoyed helping to care for other horses. First stop; New Jersey where Vicky, (Riding the Trails), and I spent the Easter weekend visiting with Mary Anne and Missy, (Walking with the Animals). On Saturday morning, Mary Anne received a heartbreaking phone call. Her 31 year old Thoroughbred gelding, Remy had passed away in the night. After the shock of the news, Mary Anne was able to reflect on the poignancy of Remy's peaceful departure while her friends had gathered to comfort her on Easter weekend. His death brought acceptable closure to their 27 years together in which 'until death do us part' could not be more meaningful. When Mary Anne returned to the barn on Monday, Remy's stall was adorned with flowers; a most comforting gesture indeed.
The rest of the weekend was spent visiting other horsey venues including both Horseman's Outlet and Dover Saddlery. End result of this shopping spree; our tiny donkey Bing finally has a halter that fits. Mary Anne assembled a delicious Easter dinner to celebrate our last evening in New Jersey before heading back to the Adirondacks...and the snow.
Yesterday I spent the day with my friends Kristin and Dottie from Herkimer. We met at Reindance Stables in Saquoit where Kristin keeps her horse, Sarah, a retired American Saddlebred. In honor of my first horse, Promise, (an American Saddlebred too), I rode Ida in the classic saddleseat. This was a new experience for me as both of my Saddlebreds, the late Promise and the current Spirit have only been ridden as hunters or Dressage horses. The experience was a privilege that I thank both Reindance and Kristin for arranging.
In the dwindling hours of vacation my brain is beginning to transition from thoughts of leisure to the organized routine of my school day. Hopefully, the endless winter weather will consider transitioning as well and point the way to my next busman's holiday; summer vacation!
|RIP Remy. Mary Anne will never forget you! (photo by Sue K.)|
|Mary Anne rode Star while Remy enjoyed a much deserved retirement.|
|We visited a Clydesdale Farm in Califon, NJ.|
Sorry Vicky...no room in the car for these two handsome boys, Fish and Ty.
|Vicky and I both fell in love with William.|
|My friend Kristin and her Saddlebred mare, Sarah.|
|Sarah, Kristin and Dottie at Reindance Stables in Saquoit, NY.|
|Having never ridden saddleseat before, it was a treat to ride Ida under the watchful eye of trainer, Jen.|