Sunday, December 30, 2012


Maybe it's just in my head, or based on the suggestions of the psychic, but I feel like Ashke and I are closer now than we were a week ago. I feel like we understand each other a little bit better. I feel safer on him now and he feels like he is being more careful with his mouth. He is also getting better at communicating what he needs or wants to both J and I. It has been really amazing to experience.

J wants me to teach him to bow. Worthy of a Prince. It should be fun to try.

Yesterday, we did a couple hours at the barn. I got the bitless bridle in the mail on Friday, but I wasn't able to try it on him because of the barn party. I have to say that I wasn't real excited about the bitless bridle, when I first saw it. It was made of rubber-pretend-leather. I hated how it felt. Now, I know some of my hesitancy is based on knowing I have a side-pull that I and Ashke both like a lot. I tried it on Ashke yesterday and didn't like how it looked or fit. The cross straps crossed under his chin and they didn't slide well through the side rings. I didn't even ride him in it. I think that although I ordered the small size, it still didn't fit his head well. I am sending it back and buying the sidepull.

We were there with Nicole, who was doing a dressage lesson with Margaret, a trainer at the barn. They were focused on getting Cali to take her right lead and trying to figure out what is going on with her. I just rode. Ashke is much more receptive to commands in the sidepull. It's pretty amazing. We were trying to work on him lowering his head and flexing at the poll, but honestly, the boy just wants to go with his head up and his ears forward. He also wants to go fast. Nice, fast swinging walk. Fast trot. Faster canter, although his canter to the left was smooth and steady, his canter to the right is still rocky and rough. We are working on it.

Ashke started something new yesterday. While we were working in the arena, there were a lot of other horses in there. Ashke, who has never been aggressive or shown dominance, has started to behave in an aggressive and dominant way. Every time we went by a chestnut or another gelding, Ashke would pin his ears, swish his tail and try to go after the other horse. Completely out of character. In fact, he kicked out at them as we went past them. Four or five incidents and I was done in the indoor arena. There were also 8 horses, counting us, in the arena and I wanted some space. We went outside.

I figure we rode outside for 30 minutes or so. Ashke loves riding out to the Mesa and has absolutely no issues with riding out just the two of us. He listened really well in the sidepull and we even had a short canter up the first hillside, which I curtailed pretty quick since there was snow on the ground and I couldn't see where the rocks were. I didn't want him to hurt a fetlock, or slip on the snow. He goes great without shoes and was very sure footed.

I forgot to start the app on my phone until we were already 10 minutes out or so. I figure the ride was almost 30 minutes and about 1.5 miles. I think he could have gone a lot farther, but didn't want to push it since we were having such a good day.

You can see that I started the app late. Next time I want to cross the wooden bridge just to the left of where we turned back and continue on around the housing development. Then meet up with the higher trail and circle back. I'm hoping the next time out I will be able to ride for 3 miles or so.

He was so strong on this ride. He didn't slip or hesitate on his right haunch. He was very interested in trotting and at one point, we did a brief canter. On the way back, we did a prancing trot down the hill. The only issue was all the rocks he kept shying at. Silly boy.


This frame should have looked more like a bell curve, if I had remembered to turn on the app before I left the barn. We started and stopped at the same elevation.

J and T went up on the Mesa, so I wasn't entirely alone, but they didn't go far because of J's footwear.

Ashke was very comfortable, listened well and seemed to really enjoy the ride. He loves being out, even in the snow and cold, and goes great with his head up and his ears forward. He's just not going to be a dressage horse or western pleasure show horse. He is going to be a wild and free trail horse.

Just what I wanted.


  1. I don't think you need to worry about getting him into a "frame" either. He will get his legs under him and flex his poll when he needs either for strength on the trail. The dressage and Western Pleasure versions of this are very artificial and don't actually help horses be stronger--humans put them in positions that look pretty to humans but don't actually enhance horse body mechanics.

  2. I completely disagree. True Dressage (in which all true forms of correct riding are based on) is meant to give horses the ability to stretch and build muscles properly for long term strength, endurance and balance. Of course there are awful people in this world that drag, beat, tie up in contraptions, and otherwise abuse horses into an unnatural frame to reach a training goal that is meant to take years (I'm talking up to a decade and more) of training to reach. If you did your proper research you would know that when trained properly, dressage is very good for your horse and allows them to build their top line and develop their muscles evenly. A horse that is allowed to run with his/her head in the air for any length of time without strengthening their backs will INEVITABLY have pain/lameness/muscle dysfunction as a result. The building blocks of dressage are as follows:
    1. Rhythm
    2. Suppleness
    3. Contact/Connection
    4. Impulsion
    5. Straightness
    6. Collection
    When followed properly your horse will thank you in the end. You are also incorrect about the trail. If Ashke doesn't strengthen/stretch his back by lowering his poll during his rides - he is in danger of over extending/injuring muscles that are not strong in his back/topline while on the trail managing a possible obstacle or steep graduation. 20 years + experience.... Just sayin... By the way - this is Cali's owner Nicole.

  3. Hey Niko - I understand what you are saying and I think those five things you listed are the same things that I am working toward with Ashke. I think you are an amazing rider and I love watching you work with Cali. I love the feedback you give me, but I have no desire to become a dressage rider. And I don't think dressage is the only way to achieve those goals.

    I think that as Ashke and I work toward our connection, we will find our rhythm. I think we are gaining ground in developing his impulsion and I think his collection will come. His topline and butt are coming along and I am phenominally pleased with progress.

    As always, I welcome your feedback and enjoy riding with you. And I love watching you ride Cali.

  4. Karen,

    I believe in my heart, that you are Ashke's guardian angel. I also believe you are an amazing horse person. I want you to know that the comment above was not directed at you but at the initial comment left regarding dressage as "artificial", " not helpful to the horses strength" and "mainly for looking pretty". That is a false and uneducated remark and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to fall asleep tonight if I didn't respond. I don't think dressage is for everyone but I DO believe that all solid riding disciplines are rooted in that training scale I listed. Your training with Ashke has followed that scale for the most part and it has done you both very well. The truth is, dressage may not be for every horse/rider but it IS the basis for strength/balance/ and overall happy horses and riders. You and Ashke are living proof! You may not even have known but the training techniques you've worked on are dressage based. Cali and I will always be there for you and Ashke for love and support. You know that if you ever need anything, we are always there to help!