When I reached the barn last night I wasn't sure what to expect. Ashke's last encounter with me included lots of new things and some of them couldn't have been pleasant. I was really afraid there was going to be consequences in either his behavior or his attitude. I was afraid that the trust we are building between us would be compromised by the dental exam or the multitude of pokes he got yesterday. None of that happened. Once again, I was shown that Ashke is an optimist and that people are to be given the benefit of a doubt.
He nickered at me when I opened the stall door and let me put the halter over his head with no issues. He's been balking in the stall and not wanting to come out the past couple of days. I discovered on Monday evening that if I put the lead rope around his neck (without the buttrope) and give him a gentle pull he comes forward without issue. (I wonder where he learned that?) I used that process with him last night and he walked out of the stall with no problem. Grooming went as normal, with the exception of cleaning his right back foot. I've had to back him into the corner of the grooming stall to be able to handle that foot, which makes no sense. However, we handled it with patience and gave him treats once all of his feet were done.
I purchased a second blanket and tried using both last night. I think I am going to forego the first one I got from Down Under and just use the thicker wool blanket we got this weekend. I don't think I need both and I do think the thicker one is much more effective at this time. Once the grooming and saddling process was complete, we made our way to the arena.
I am amazed every time I go to get on him that Ashke stands without an problem until I am on him. We worked in the big arena tonight and he was moving with verbal cues and very little leg. The trot I asked from him was slow and he was able to attain that without him fighting the bit. Our only issue was Ashke continues to slow or stop at the gate. He works best when we are moving clockwise and has more "issues" when he moves in the opposite direction.
After Ashke and I had been working for ten minutes or so, Susan, one of the riders at the barn, brought her mare into the arena and we rode together for fifteen minutes or so. Ashke did pretty good although he really was much more interested in trying to get to know the mare than in listening to me. However, I do think he enjoyed himself and liked having the company. We only had one tailflip-ears-pinned-half-hearted-attempt-at-a-buck incident the entire ride.
I haven't moved him out of a trot yet, seeing as we are still working on moving forward and stopping when requested and not before. I want to have him working at the walk and trot without hesitancy before moving to the canter. Also, because he was so weak when I got him, I'm not interested in working him too hard and bowing a tendon or injurying his legs before he has built up some strength and resilience. I am willing to be patient, give him time to gain strength, and give him the space to work things out for himself.
Sorry the pictures aren't better but it was dusk and the sky was overcast. Maybe we will get better ones tonight, if we get all of T's homework done in time to get out there.