Thursday, October 11, 2012

Draw Reins

I put draw reins on Ashke today. They are reins that run from the girth or buckle of the breastplate to the bit and then up to the rider. Their intent is to help teach the horse to lower his head and reach down for the bit. They are a teaching aid and shouldn't be used all the time (unlike some of the riders at the barn, who ride with draw reins all of the time). I didn't want to try the Pessoa system without Nicole, but I did want to work with Ashke in a way that would help him figure out how to engage his back and haunches to move himself forward.

It worked really well. I really think Ashke has been ridden with draw reins before, because he didn't even try to fight against them. He did engage his back and haunches much more than in the past, and he felt really springy at the trot instead of strung out. His propulsion was definitely driven by his haunches and he moved forward very well. He also acted out a couple of times when I asked for a trot and he gave me two or three steps at a canter before dropping back into the trot.

We worked in the round pen first. We worked through walk, trot, canter, stop and back. When we walked, he was on a loose rein, so he could stretch out and relax. The draw reins only came into play primarily at the trot. We worked in the round pen and then moved to the big outdoor arena, where we worked at a trot and canter. I only rode him about 30 minutes. I didn't want to exhaust him or to frustrate him to the point where he wanted to fight against the reins. I did want to work him long enough to start developing the muscles across his back.

After our workout, I took him over to try on a horse costume for Chris. She asked me if I would consider giving one of her therapeutic kids a ride on Ashke for her Halloween parade. She thinks that Ashke is calmer and more able than some of the other horses in the stable. I think that is quite the compliment. I would lead him and there would be two other adults on either side of him while the rider was on. She has a Snow Lord costume, which we threw on his haunches to see how he was going to react. He couldn't have cared less. He was just happy to be part of whatever was going on. He is such an amazing horse.

I've been thinking a lot about Ashke's emotional state and the possible effect that almost starving to death might have had. He seems very needy and grabby with his mouth. I've started the Ttouch with his mouth again, but don't think this is going to resolve until some of his issues are addressed. He will nip at my pants and then throw his head up, even when I don't react. I am trying to be consistent and patient, because whaling on him isn't going to help him, and he knows he's not supposed to nip. He seems to enjoy working with me and seems emotionally happier when he has a job.

I am stressed and worried about trailering him on Saturday, but am hopeful that the vet can give me some insight into both baggage and solutions. Hopefully, Callie will reassure him that getting in the trailer isn't that big of a deal.

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