I was greeting as I was getting out of my car by my horse whinnying at me. When I walked into the barn I could see his nose sticking between the bars of his stall door. I guess he was excited to see me.
Have I mentioned how dirty he is?
I have figured out how to get him to walk into the grooming stall. First, you go all the way outside the barn. You turn right and walk to the other entrance to the barn. Enter. Turn right and walk into the grooming area. No fight. No protest. I don't know if I tricked him or what, but we didn't have any issues after that. Of course, there were a ton of horses there including Callie, so that couldn't have hurt.
Nicole discovered Callie was "stocked up" in her right hind. She thinks it might be because Callie hasn't worked in over a week and a half. There was no heat, no tenderness and Callie moved out just fine. Stocking up happens when a horse is standing in a stall and not moving enough. Nicole worked her out and the swelling was reduced when they were finished. I kind of bullied Nicole into riding, which I think was good for both her and Callie. She's having a horrible month and didn't want that to seep over into her riding.
I took Ashke to the round pen first to see what kind of attitude he was going to have. Although it was warm it was really windy and Ashke snorted at everything. The horse trailer. The other trailer. The white thing that's been there forever. He shied and spun and kicked. It was fun to watch. After he had tore around for ten minutes or so, I called him over and hooked the lead rope on, then led him out of the round pen. We were standing outside the round pen with Nicole talking when he started his newest thing. He would lip at the edge of my coat, then take it between his teeth and just hold on. He did it to the lapel, the sleeve, the edge of my pants. Such a silly boy. He was very careful not to bite me, he just wanted to hold onto me.
We moved inside and I saddled him. He is so dirty, but what are you going to do? He is still protesting the cinch being tightened. Nicole and I talked about it and she told me her trainer told her newly saddled horses will have issues with the cinch and to not make a big deal out of it. When I put the saddle on Ashke I ran my hand underneath it to check how it felt. I had it to far forward and all of the weight was over his kidneys. I moved the saddle back just a bit and it was much better. He still didn't want me to tighten the cinch, though. When I walked him into the arena, I put a couple of peppermints in my pocket. I walked him around the arena once and went to tighten the cinch. He started backing away from me. I stood still and put my hand in my pocket, crumpling the wrapper around the peppermint. His ears went up and he stood still. I walked him over to the mounting block and tightened the cinch, then climbed on. He stood stock still. When I was set, he turned his head back to receive his peppermint. So predictable.
We rode up and down the arena for 40 minutes or so. We did walk and trot, some canter. Nico brought Callie out and Pam was there with Allectra. At one point I asked Ashke for a leg yield and although he moved over he bent his head and neck to the side. Nico took the time to demonstrate the proper position for the horse to maintain and she showed me something really important. She moves Callie away from the rail and then uses the leg to get her to move back out to the rail. They are only taking three or four steps, which is the proper leg yield. What Ashke and I were doing was a side-pass, which is a much more advanced movement. I had no idea. It is much easier to get Ashke to move from the inside of the arena to the rail three or more steps than to try and cross the entire arena. Easier for him to execute, as well. And since we typically work on the rail, asking him to move to the rail builds on what we've already engrained in his riding behavior.
Ashke did awesome. He was much better with his right hind. His canter was smooth. He worked the trot easily in both directions. He was responsive and reactive. I tried taking the running martingale off and he hated it. He hates how it feels. I hate how he responds. I put it back on and he was just fine. We are just going to have to ride with it. Sometimes the tool makes a difference. In this case I don't want to fight him. He understands the cues with the martingale and I don't want to change that. He was so awesome, I can't find the words.
Tomorrow I ride again. Six more days till TMR.