Thursday, September 13, 2018

Improvement

So this week has gone by pretty darn quick. As some of you might know, the NFL season kicked off last Sunday. I worked HCWE's schooling show in the morning and then raced off to the stadium for our season home opener (we won). Otherwise, it's been more of the same stuff.

Ashke has felt pretty darn good under saddle. I haven't been riding as consistently as I would like, mostly because life is pretty cray-cray right now, but the rides I have had have been very good. His canter is becoming stronger and stronger, with great rhythm and decent balance. On Monday, for the first time I can remember, it felt flowing and easy for both of us.

Gratuitous Dog Pic

Last night when I drove up the driveway to the barn, Ashke saw my car coming and bugled in welcome. It was the best thing ever. When I got out of the car, he bugled again, then followed me down the fence to his stall, whinnying at me. He walked into the stall as I came around the doorframe and whinnied again when he saw me. 

I think he might have missed me. I had been way to tired to ride on Tuesday night after my not so great day at work and food shopping. It was good for my soul. 

I got him groomed (blowing out his summer coat so the aisle was knee deep in fine white hair) and saddled. He followed me into the indoor and I stepped into the saddle to start our walk around the arena. We always ride in the same area, since it is marked off and is just a hair smaller than a 20x40 court. As we walked past the jump standards (same ones as always), he spooked at the mounting block. It was kind of right at the end of our riding area, so I got off and moved it out of the way. I was too tired to fight with him. He did cock an ear the next time we went by and tried to sidle away, so the following times, I put him on the bit with bend to the inside and told him to knock it off. He stopped.

That may be because things got so hard.

I did shoulder in and haunches in for warm up, then practiced our ten meter circle with the leg yield to the rail from our test. He was very solid for those. We did some trot circles and serpentines, then a medium trot across the diagonal in both directions. By that time he was moving fairly freely.

 They are like Lays, you can't have just one.

Amanda had us start with something along the rail (I forget what) and at my first request for a halt, he blew through my leg and hand. She had us start at the walk with me only asking from my seat. Then we moved to trot. Then we incorporated varied trot circles - going in different directions with various turns, trying to randomize it as much as possible, since he knows where he's supposed to stop in the serpentine work. Then we moved to the canter. He was much better, and Amanda reminded me to continue to work on the transitions from my seat in my practice rides. It was a good exercise to employ to get him listening to what I am asking.

We then worked on half-pass at the trot on the diagonal. We have a tendency to be too steep in our diagonal line to the rail, so I was really focused on a spot on the rail and trying to make the track we rode follow my line across the arena. It was much more effective then staring at the back of his head. Who knew? We then added in the very difficult task of starting in half-pass then moving to shoulder in without changing our bend.

Ashke was like "oh, hell no!" 

See, he likes to know what is expected of him. He gets predictive and tries to hard to do whatever he imagines he should be doing. It is always fun to break him out of that anticipation by changing the activity. He threw his hip, he tried to argue that we should continue on our path since he is the best at half-pass. He tried everything from throwing his hip, to barging against my leg, to pinning his ears at me. It was pretty hilarious. I finally figured out if I changed my focus from the rail to the end of the arena, he was able to continue forward without losing his bend. It's amazing when something so simple like changing where you are looking or weighing your seat differently or shifting focus can make such an impact on your performance.

 Butt, Mooooom.

We then did it at the canter, which was difficult until I corrected how much shoulder in we should be doing. Once it was a little less, he wasn't fighting his body to move forward and then it was easy. 

After our walk break, we worked on the medium trot across the diagonal and me properly setting him up for it (square corners at every turn). He nailed that. We did a couple of turns on the haunches where he actually kept his impulsion better than he has in the past. We finished off the ride with the medium canter circle to collected canter circle. He did great but I was really wiped out by the end.

He got rinsed, since we are in the middle of an Indian summer, and then tucked away with grain and carrots.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Full Week

 Evening Sky at the Barn

 Climate Change gives us some spectacular clouds


 New kicks


 He was so drugged he almost fell on his face


 Prepping the Right Hock


 Doc said he's only had two horses fall forward, but I should move to the side to be safe.


 Injection


 Skittle and her stuffy


 Vedauwoo hammock camping
Did not work as advertised.
I need a different hammock and trees not over rocks
Slept three adults and two dogs in the truck camper


Tristan's new tent sans Tristan

 
 Their feets were sore and they didn't want to dog any more


 Sunrise

 Pups butts


 A soft place to rest


 Skittle was tired of running on granite


 Nice little hollow with a stone pillow


 A boy and his dog


 Climbing


 Them too. They have no real concept of height.


 Back side drop into a pile of stone


 He got to the top


 More tops

It took almost fifteen minutes for him to overcome his fear, at total and complete destruction of his genital area if he missed, to make the leap.


Carrying the Skittle dog back to camp

Tonight will be my first ride since the injections. He was moving very well on Monday and Amanda said he felt awesome for her last night.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Suppling

One of the great things about my trainer is she goes to fancy dressage clinics and comes home with new exercises for Ashke and I to struggle through try. She spent the past two days riding with George Williams (USDF) working on getting her I2 horse to be more relaxed and correct in his piaffe and passage work. One of the exercises she was doing, was one we attempted last night.

Let me preface my recap by saying, I probably should have cancelled my lesson last night because yesterday was spent dealing with vertigo and nausea. By 5 pm I was able to walk upright without falling into the wall and was no longer wanting to throw up, so I went. I was a little weak and tired for the lesson, however, Ashke was a doll and tried to make up for my lack.

We started with shoulder in and haunches in, then Amanda had us work on the exercise she had been working on in her clinic. We started in the walk. Half-pass to the left for five steps, then changing the bend while still moving forward until we were in a leg yield. Once the leg yield was established, we moved to a half-pass to the right, then changed the bend into a leg yield while still moving in that direction. Once we both had the idea, we tried it in the trot as well. It takes a lot of leg and seat to do correctly, which is always a great challenge for us, since it makes me be very quiet with my hands. The intent of the exercise is to get him to move laterally, changing bend and direction without tension in his neck and poll. It was a great exercise to get him supple through the base of the neck (no tension wrinkles) and to relax at the poll. His go to is to throw his head up and muscle through whatever we are trying, and this will help develop those muscles needed to move his shoulders and withers without getting hollow or giraffe like. Amanda and Laz were able to do it in two step increments in passage, but we are not there yet. It is a great exercise to add to my practice rides. And Ashke liked the challenge.

We did a walk break where I was really encouraging him to reach down in a stretchy walk. I'm beginning to wonder if the SI is being thrown out by tension in the base of his neck and shoulder. He spent so much time with the SI out that keeping it in long enough for his body to recognize the new normal is going to take a lot of attention. And the right hock pain may be contributing to that as well. We shall see what the next six months brings.

After our stretchy walk, we did some canter work on a circle, first with the spiral in and out, and then working on shoulder in to neutral on a fifteen meter circle. The second exercise will not be added to our practice because I could not honestly tell when I was doing it correctly unless Amanda told me so. We will continue to work on it in the lesson, until my "feel" has improved.

We finished up with double slalom practice sans poles, just working the pattern in my mind. And then the single slalom. Ashke really gets collected in the single slalom, since we only have about three strides between transitions. At that point, we were both done.

 We had a visitor that was watching our warm up from the corner of the arena. 


 She wasn't bothered by the horses, but took exception to my approaching her for some media.


 She was huge.








Pretty sure she was a Redtail, but couldn't confirm identification. 
Never got a good look at her underside.


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Studdly

Do you all remember when Tracy came out and did the myofascial release on Ashke’s gelding scars? During that session, she acknowledged how unhappy and enraged and betrayed he was at the gelding. And then she told him that he could still act on the best parts of stallion behavior. 

I think he missed the “best parts” of that sentence and heard “You should act like a stallion”. 

I have been hearing stories about him rearing, striking, and putting his feet through the fence trying to get to the mare next to him. I have seen him acting like a dodo-head whenever he feels his “herd” is leaving him. As personable as he is, he doesn’t need to tangle with the fence. 

When we got back from our vacation, I rode on Saturday to get him warmed up and moving again. On Sunday, we did a lesson, where he felt amazing and we just kept saying “canter leg yields? No prob. Let’s do canter half-pass” until his SI fell out. I felt it and Amanda saw it. We tried another exercise and he locked up again, so we stopped and waited to talk to the chiro. On Monday night, he was full of himself and there was no one else at the barn, so I groomed him and hand walked him to get grass. He was moving just fine. Sometime between Monday night and Tuesday at noon, Ashke managed to hurt his neck. 

It was bad enough that he did not want the chiro to touch him and ended up running backwards down the aisle. She said his SI was out, but went right back in. The underside of his neck, however, was exceedingly sore. Not skeletal sore, but muscle sore. My guess is, he hung himself up in the fence between he and a mare. She used accupuncture on the muscle, but he was still swollen and a bit sore on Saturday, the next time he was worked. He felt a touch sore, but seemed to work out of it and I didn’t do a whole lot. Mostly we worked on some canter and a lot of lateral work.

Today, he was pretty sore to start, but warmed up out of it again. Amanda watched him very carefully while we rode. We did a lot of lateral work at the trot and then again at the canter. He even gave me an unasked for flying change. (Both Amanda and I are very excited about putting changes on him this winter). Again, Amanda was careful with the exercises she was having us do, to ensure we weren’t stressing his chest. We worked on every corner being a square corner, spiral circles at the canter, riding one handed in the canter-walk serpentine, and lots of lateral work. It was very exacting work on my part, (although it was awesome to hear Amanda’s mom say “her elbows have gotten so quiet and he is doing so much better.”)  I had sweat dripping off my chin onto the saddle by the time we were done.

He got rinsed and rubbed with Sore No More. Tomorrow, I will do a road ride with Manuel and Mexicano and just let him move easily without asking much. Wednesday, another lesson then an appointment with the chiro on Thursday and hock injections on Friday. After that, he should be ready for our last two shows.



Out with the Arab-Friesian cross mare, Kat



And we were worried about how we would catch them


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Photo shoot: Clever Lark Photography

About a month ago, we did a black background photo shoot with Ashke.
One of my friends at the barn set it up in exchange for a reining bit I had given her.
I definitely got the better end of that deal.


You can see how much muscle he’s developed at the base of his neck and across his withers.


He was very flirtatious with the photographer.


It was an overcast day, which is beneficial, since there are no sharp shadows.
The natural light and the camera create the black background.


I should have gotten some hoof black and darkened his hooves but I didn’t even think of it.

This is the best head shot of the group.
I love his eye and his expression here.


The photographer did a great job of photoshopping me out of the picture here.
I was offering a treat from the far side of him and he was bowing.

This was an amazing photo shoot. You can see the reason why the breeders considered him for their breeding program and the qualify of his lineage. I am awestruck at the muscle he has developed. And his face and eye are magnificent. I am a bit biased, I know, but you have to admit he is spectacular.





Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Vacation: Los Vegas

Thursday morning, we ate breakfast at Lee’s Hoagie Shop, and it was very good. The service was excellent and the food was very tasty, with fresh squeezed OJ that was yummy. Then we packed up and drove to Vegas for the evening. I had scored a room at the Excalibur, which has the Big Apple Roller Coaster across the street. I was also looking forward to finding a great seafood buffet for dinner, cuz Vegas.

The New York, New York Casino, with the Big Apple Coaster.
Most of the casinos are now connected with this fancy walk ways, so people aren’t crossing at the street lights.


The Statue of Liberty wearing a basketball jersey in front of the Casine (don’t ask, I don’t know)


The top of Excalibur from street level. We had a room in the tower on the right.


I have no words


Third Hard Rock Cafe and no souvenirs on this trip.
I was very sad.

PBR has a Rock Bar and Grill
Shouldn’t this be a country Bar?

Vegas is fun, from a visual standpoint.
We didn’t gamble


Paris Casino
The inside had a painted sky for a ceiling. It was pretty cool.

So the roller coaster was kick ass, even if we didn’t get to ride it as much as we wanted to. J wanted to catch a show that was a half mile away so we walked down to the Paris to get tickets. Then, because we were in general seating, and it was too far to go back, we waited there for the show to start. The coaster is certainly worth the money to do, and if you get the unlimited pass for $26 you don’t have to wait in line. We were all about the not waiting in line. My only issue is that the coaster is pretty jerky and after our second in a row ride, I had a pretty good headache. We did find the buffet in Excalibur, but it wasn’t as fancy as I had hoped, since it was Thursday night. That was a bit of a disappointment. We crashed after walking back from the Anthony Cools show. He is a hypnotist and if you want to watch people fucking a chair, go to his show. Tristan seemed to enjoy it and absolutely laughed his head off. I could have done without watching the older woman (think my mother’s age) deep throating an imaginary dick. If you enjoy 18 year old boy humor combined with graffic sexual humor, go see him. It was entertaining.

We overslept the next morning and got a late start. We grabbed breakfast from the casino floor and got on the road just about 10 am. We lost an hour and arrived home at about 10:20 pm, stopping only to pee, grab food for lunch and to put gas in the car.

Views from the car


Utah has the most vibrant colors in their landscape


Stunning to say the least


How Tristan spent most of the ride.
Yes he is buckled in.
No, he didn’t drive.