1. Last night, we achieved a decent trot for half a circuit of the round pen. Ashke is still moving with his head up and not collected, but he did settle and drop his head for a few steps. It is a move in the right direction. I warmed him up easy and then rode him at a walk and a trot until we had finally met our goal. Then we worked over poles at the walk with me on him. He responds very well when I tell him to "step" as we approached the poles.
2. Ashke's back seems to be strengthening and it is easier for him to carry me. I am doing TTouch along his spine and over his withers in the hope that any residual pain will be mitigated. I also worked on his tail, to try and get him back and haunches to relax. You should see the look I get when I do that.
3. Ashke has decided that every time I mount and he holds still it is peppermint worthy. I, of course, am willing to provide "crunchies" as a reward.
4. Backing is a non-issue any more. All I have to do is stop him, tighten my lower legs around his girth, just barely touch the reins and he tucks his chin and backs for me. I'm so happy that the work we've done is paying off.
5. The biting is a done deal. He still lips, which I'm okay with, and I am still doing the mouth touches because he likes it so much. His favorite thing to do while I am rinsing him off is to nuzzle the edge of my hair at my neck. It gives me goosebumps.
6. Tightening the cinch is much easier now. We move it to a specific tightness in the grooming stall and then I tighten it when we reach the round pen and a final time just before I mount. Ashke seems easier and happier this way.
7. I am able to do the lift and release on Ashke's left hind leg, but still not able to on his back right. He must have some kind of residual injury there, because he will flatten his ears and try to kick me when I work on that leg. I have progressed to being able to do a gentle squeeze with both hands around his leg, which is an improvement over where we were a week ago. I will continue to work on it until all of the pain, discomfort and fear is gone. (We are pretty sure he was tangled in barbed wire on that leg, considering the number and manner of the scars running down the inside.)