1. When we brought Ashke home he was as close to a 1on the body chart as it was possible to be without being dead. (See http://theeashke.blogspot.com/2012/04/body-condition.html.)
Thee Ashke had zero fat deposits anywhere. He also had very little muscle. He was covered with bite marks, gashes from being kicked, and was teetering on the verge of collaspe, in my opinion.
The wonderful care he has received, the great food he is being fed and the exercise and attention he is being given have returned his health to him. Although I still have hope that we will be able to attempt some endurance rides (planning on doing local "fun rides" of fifteen miles soon) I am also perfectly happy if we don't ever compete. My newest hope is to teach him to ride trails with J and T on their bikes.
Our last trim, when we pulled the shoes off and trimmed him to the line on his hoof where the nails were inset, has been perfect. Dan (farrier) said he had trimmed the foot a little different to allow him to break over much easier and lowered the inside wall a little bit over the outside wall. Whatever he did has worked. Ashke moves so much better. I think his trying to trot and canter and tripping all the time was similar to women who wear those incredibly long artificial nails and try to type.
Ashke still needs to strengthen and develop his legs. This can only be done through exercise, although the Ttouch has certainly contributed positive results, in my opinion. We are still working on pain in his back right, residual/emotional I believe. He is finally sound and can be worked for over an hour now without becoming so fatigued he is tripping or stumbling. I am trying to work him to the point that he is beginning to sweat, but not excessively sweaty or lathered. The few times he has gotten that worked up, he did it to himself. I want him to gain strength without being in pain.
3. The overall muscle strength in his back is continuing to develop. The long slabs of muscle on either side of his ribs is getting stronger with each day. Ashke is no longer tender in those areas and this is another place the Ttouch has definitely helped. I continue to try and post when we trot, but am struggling with both the timing and the feeling completely out of control with the horse. I spent most of my childhood riding bareback with my legs wrapped around their barrel, most of the strength coming from my thighs. Posting requires holding on with my calves and elevating my seat. Not something my fifty year old body really wants to do. It also feels unsafe to make the transition between the trot and canter when we are still so new at it.
Today, he was a little iffy with the canter. He was swishing his tail and tucking his ears back when I asked him to go faster. It may be he isn't ready to canter two days in a row. We did some, but then we just trotted. One of the things that surprised me in watching the video, Ashke took the correct lead every time I asked him to canter, with the exception of the very first time. The first time when we moved into a corner he broke into a trot but picked up the canter on the correct lead. That seems amazing to me.
4. We are just about done with the round pen. Ashke is so tired of being worked in that space. I figure its similar to eating the same thing every day or working on multiplication tables. It has been a wonderful tool, but no longer holds much appeal. If possible, I want to work with more obstacles in the arena. I have a whole bunch of potential courses we could work through and I want to start working on the reining pattern for the last gymkhana at the barn. Those two things should give him enough to think about over the next couple of weeks.
I have to say, the barrels with the tarp over them didn't even phase him. Ashke went through it on his own while we were setting up the caveletti. For some reason, Ashke is still struggling to step over the elevated bars in the caveletti. He did great with the rails on the ground, but not so much with them raised. I just left them down for now. We will try to raise them at some point.
5. Life is going to change in a week or so. T starts 7th grade with four honors classes. That means time spent before and after dinner sitting with him while he does his homework. My time spent at the barn will need to be curtailed, or at least cover less scope. I figure that I should still be able to groom Ashke and work him at the lunge in an hour. I don't want to take any steps back, but without knowing what the work load will entail, its hard to plan ahead. It's also getting dark earlier, which makes working outside a lot more difficult. So, that means transitioning to the indoor arena, which neither of us really likes. Additionally, my office is moving further from my house and will add an extra twenty minutes of commute in either direction. I may have to stop sleeping and go sneak off to see my horse the way some people sneak off to meet their illicit lovers.
6. I'm very sore today. I am using muscles I haven't really used in years. It hurts when I am done. Funny though, I don't think about it when I am on him.
We did do a lot of trotting. He has such a nice little shuffle trot, with his ears forward. Looks like he's enjoying himself.
There are so many things that lead me to believe he has been trained under saddle in the past. This is one of them. That sweet little trot. And picking up the canter on the correct lead.
7. I am trying to lose some weight. I won't be able to ride the way I want if I don't. I have the same issue many women face at this point in their lives - my body completely changed when I had my son and then I injured my back. This caused me to gain a lot more weight than I ever thought I could. The riding and working Ashke has given me the physical exercise I was lacking, my body seems to be over and done with the baby making part, and now all I have to do is watch what I eat. I have started a food journal and I can tell you I never would have guessed at how many calories I was eating a day prior to tracking them. I am holding myself close to 1600 and that is probably half of what I was eating before. Wish me luck. Thee Ashke will like it too.