I rode yesterday with Nicole. She is really amazing on horseback and has a great feel for the horse. I really respect her opinion and her ability to see what is going on.
Ashke was stiff and tense for our ride, which was inside and lasted over an hour. I could not get him to relax and stretch himself out, drop his head or use his back. Nicole rode him while I watched and said he was really tight and tense. She recommended losing the martingale, since it changes the communication between the horse and rider, and work on getting Ashke to lift his back and use his butt.
I'm not sure how to make that happen. I know what it should feel like and when I rode Queenie, we just rode around and around until it happened. However, with Ashke, there are some physical deficiencies that still need to be addressed. Although he has gained strength and muscle in his back since I got him, it still needs time and work to be completely healed.
Nicole suggested the Pessoa system, something her vet recommended with Rhythm, and which helped Nicole develop Rhythm's topline. I told Nicole that I didn't know how to use the Pessoa system, not understanding what I was trying to do, and was worried about hurting Ashke, so had chosen to not try. Nicole offered to work with me on Sunday and try the system with Ashke. You shouldn't use it for very long, since it is difficult on the horse, but we will try it for twenty minutes or so. Riding Ashke isn't strengthening the correct muscles the correct way, so hopefully this system will give me the tools to make things better for him.
When I unsaddled Ashke, Nicole checked his back and he was very tender. I asked her if she thought I should stop riding him for a while and she said no, but by using the Pessoa system intermixed with riding I should be able to ease the strain on his back.
As far as the new stable goes, it's not happening yet. The place in Arvada/Golden was a wonderful location with lots of riding potential, but the care for the horses was subpar. There were no shavings in their boxes, the pens outside were small and cramped and fetlock deep in mud and manure, and the horses didn't look good. We didn't even talk to anyone. It felt like the owners had crammed as many paddocks as possible onto the property. There was a woman galloping her Arabian around the outdoor arena and the Arab looked like Ashke did a month after I got him. It did not speak well of the care the horses were getting. And he wasn't the only one. Most of the horses didn't look bad off, but they were missing the robust good health that Christensen's horses have.
That was Friday early evening. On Friday, late evening, I received an email with an attached memo. And received a shock. The barn has asked Chris and her Miracles Therapeutic Riding group to leave at the end of October. In hand with what has been said to T about his behavior, they are changing the focus of the stable. I think, just my gut reaction, that they plan to turn this stable entirely into a training barn for Gary. I expect, at some point, to either be asked to leave or to be forced to find another stable.
We looked at another stable on Saturday night. It is the one Chris is moving to, and I wanted to see if it would work for Ashke. The stable has a lot of potential, but needs a lot of work, which the barn manager is planning on taking care of, but the process is slow. It has maintenance issues, no lighting, no offstreet parking, no solid tie racks, no heated water, no outdoor wash rack, no real tack rooms and one interior cross-tied grooming stall. I loved the indoor arena, but there is not really any off premises riding available. And no Nicole. J said, "Lot's of potential, but not the right fit."
Good news, however, at the current stable. Ashke may be able to move into a stall with a run. And horses on both sides of him. He is once again, completely isolated, without a horse on either side. And he will be able to stay on turnout five days a week, at least, and seven days when Marit gets out to turn them out.