This past week has been very difficult on so many levels. I have been experiencing a great deal of pain and discomfort in my rump, the small of my back and along the sciatic nerves. When the doctor said it would hurt more the next day, he wasn't kidding. Of course, I probably would have felt better had I allowed myself to stop and recuperate with ice and pain meds, but no, I don't really know how to slow down, even when in pain. It's been interesting to try and wear pants because the swelling was so severe that all of my pants refused to button and even the really baggy ones were tight, which I might point out, puts a lot of pressure on the already abused body parts.
Ashke, however, has not had a break, except for Monday. I have been at the barn, brushing him out and working him in the round pen, even if I haven't been on his back. J is making me wait until I can walk without pain before getting on him, which has forced me to slow down and work him in the round pen.
We start the process with grooming and hoof care. Ashke is shedding his second coat since we moved him in. He now looks dark grey on the neck and shoulders. As you can see from the video, the boy has a major itch he needs scratched. He loves being groomed now, probably because it doesn't hurt to have the brushes run over his skin.
After the grooming, Ashke is tacked up and led to the round pen, sans stirrups. I am using the reins through his martingale, to help teach him to keep his head down, and for the most part that has worked really well. We have had some moments where he protests quite a bit, bucking and kicking and carrying on. But, as the days progress, he fights less and listens better. He gets worked at the walk, trot, canter and backing up. In both directions. We've really struggled (by which I mean Ashke has fought and protested a lot) with the slow, easy canter clockwise in the round pen for more than one circuit. He knows exactly how long the carriage whip is and manages to stay just ahead of me at a fast trot. I stumble and run around the arena after him (which might be part of the reason the bruising is taking so long to heal) while he does a hard extended trot instead of the easy canter. Finally, last night, I got him to canter, head down and relaxed, without breaking the gait, for five or six turns around the round pen. He will slow to a jog on voice command and then to a walk. We work at it until he has achieved what I am asking for without protest. He decided last night that he was done with the canter and just stopped. I requested he go forward and he did, but bucking and kicking out at me. For that he got to canter an extra four circuits of the arena until I decided he was done with fighting me.
We went through an interesting issue with him nickering and reacting to me like a stallion does to a mare, with all of the physiological reactions that go with that. I have decided that when he begins to act that way, he needs more work. After running him around the ring a few more times, he's not nearly so amorous. I've seen young colts and stallions act this way, but never a gelding that's been gelded for six years. Anyone?
After the work in the round pen we untack and head for the wash station. Ashke no longer hesitates to step onto the concrete block and doesn't protest much when he is sprayed. In fact, he sighs with relief when the water hits his neck. Have I mentioned that its been hot here? I rinse him down, squeegee him off and then lead him back to his stall.
Despite the injury, or maybe because of the injury, we are still making progress.