Funny that it's taken me five weeks to work this out.
The plan going forward is to lunge Ashke in the round pen for fifteen minutes, in both directions at the walk, trot and canter. I am going to work with him on the verbal cues for each gait. A soft smooch for a walk, a click for a trot, and a loud kiss for a canter. After I am done working him at the lunge, I am going to ride him for thirty minutes and work on the same items. I will focus on transitions between the gaits, and in getting Ashke to canter without fighting me. (We haven't cantered yet.)
Today marks the eighth week Ashke has been with us. There has been a lot good that has happened.
1. Ashke has put on a bunch of weight and continues to gain muscle and tone. His spine is filling in and I can see progress day to day.
2. Grooming is routine and Ashke seems to enjoy it. He isn't crazy about fly spray on his ears. Or water running over his rump. He has entered the wash room but not been washed there. He will lift his feet willingly.
3. Ashke no longer fights the reins. He sometimes reacts like he has been ridden before and I am giving him the wrong cues. I'm hoping the work we do in the round pen corrects that issue.
4. We get his feet worked on again on Tuesday. He is getting shoes on all four feet. I am hoping that the last twinges of tenderness will be gone at that point. Ashke has about two inches of new growth on his hooves. They are going to look so good when they are completely healthy.
5. I finally figured out how to get the saddle on his back correctly. The new saddleblanket I got from Down Under Saddlery (the equipedic) is working very well. The compression marks on Ashke's back are symetrical and even on both sides. There was no slippage today and Ashke seemed much more comfortable.
6. We are still struggling with the nipping, although it has gotten better.
7. I have found someone who will ride the green belt with me. She also has an Arabian. I am hoping that Ashke will be safe enough and comfortable enough to ride out with her.
So, now for some catchup:
Ashke wasn't staying close to the rail when I was lunging him, which I do without a lead rope. The rope was pulling his head around toward me and it was easier to do it without. I borrowed an idea from Mark Rashid and put the cones out to force Ashke to stay on the outside of them. He picked up on it pretty quick.
This was Thursday night. T got to ride after I was finished working Ashke.
Ashke handled it pretty well considering how dark it was. We even trotted one length of the arena.
Here is Ashke working the round pen on the outside of the cones.
He didn't like T hanging from the top of the crossbar on the gate. Aren't the purple boots awesome?
And at the canter.
I tried the field for exactly two minutes, but Ashke was way to edgy. The wind was beginning to pick up and he was getting unsettled. I decided not to push my luck.
There is something about the field that makes him crazy. And me scared.
We moved back to the big arena and worked there for another twenty minutes or so.
It was hot and he was sweaty. It had also been a week since his last bath. I washed him. He hates the water running over his rump.
Over all, I pretty good day.