Ashke was outside enjoying the sun when we got there. He is looking so good every time I see him. His belly is a bit round, but that will slim up with work and I want him to have plenty to eat this winter. And from looking at pictures of other Arabians, that round belly is part of their conformation. Now if we could just get his butt built up a bit, I would be very happy. Today was a start on that.
After grooming him and tacking him up, I took him to the indoor arena. Tightening the cinch is going so much better. I go slow and he is pretty much okay with it. I think as we continue, it will get better. I checked the cinch in the indoor arena and then got on. We walked for six circuits before moving into the trot. Ashke maintained the trot very well today. He didn't pop up in the front like he has been. Just a nice collected trot. Then we cantered. I lost my stirrup on our first round and we had to stop so I could gather my balance again. I'm getting closer to riding the canter the way I'm supposed to. Of course, I am paying for it tonight, since all of the muscles in my back feel like they've been beaten. But we are getting there. Slowly. A little closer each day.
After we had worked in the indoor arena, we headed for the mesa. I had told a woman who had been riding her horse when I got there that I wanted to go out and ride. She told me I should wait, because the ground would be slick. I didn't think so. It looked pretty dry to me, despite the snow that still covered the ground. Ashke was excited to go out again.
There is no quit in this horse. And he had no issue going out alone. That is a wonderful thing.
I knew J and T were out somewhere on the mountain. We headed out to see if we could find them.
Two things about Table Mountain. It's very steep. And it's incredibly rocky.
Both of these things were new for Ashke. He needs to learn to watch where he steps and to listen to me a bit more, although I have no complaint about his effort today. We just need to work on rating.
I found J and T, although they were too high on too steep a hillside for Ashke and I to get up to them. They moved closer to the plateau and Ashke and I moved around to meet them. Ashke spent the ride looking around, with his ears up and his eyes wide. I love that look. When I got up to J and T, Ashke was warm and puffing. He had trotted a couple of times over pretty short distances, but I didn't let him maintain the pace for very long. It was way too rocky and we need to work on his listening to me while we are doing things like that. Also, Diane said to walk hills, not trot them.
When I reached J, I dismounted and looked back at the ranch. It's kind of hard to see. The two long white patches are the indoor and the barn. As Ashke carried me up to J, J greeted him with the words "so strong". It was funny, because it was exactly what I was thinking.
So strong. His right hammie is getting better each time I ride. There was no sense of weakness or hesitancy in his stride. We went right up the hillside without balking, or hesitation. J rewarded him with peppermints.
I got off and let Ashke catch his breath and we made much of him. I walked him down a bit to where it wasn't so steep and then swung up. We headed back.
Ashke did a great job of keeping his butt underneath him when we were going down hill. He didn't try to trot or overstep himself. He listened well and kept himself collected beneath me.
I got off when we reached the farm, mostly due to evil hoses laying across the road and I didn't want to push it, since we had done so well up to that point. As I was leading Ashke up to the barn, I saw Jeff. I said hi and he told me Nicole and Cali were in the indoor. I turned to go to the indoor and Ashke balked for the first time all day. We were at the door to the barn when I turned him back toward the indoor to go say hi to Nicole. He got a lot happier when he saw Cali waiting for him in the arena. We rode with Nicole, who was riding bareback in a halter (on the horse, not her. Too cold.)
One of the things I think is important for him to figure out is that it is okay to feel tired and maybe a little sore after an outing. He needs to recognize his own strength and his ability to recover from a ride. He is incredibly strong and needs to recognize that. And to realize that he not only will survive these types of rides, but will thrive on them.
Ashke did find some of the rocks scarey. Like tilt your head sideways and watch them very closely scarey. But every time I turned him to face what he was hesitant about, and told him he was a good boy, he walked up to it and touched it with his nose. One time he scrapped at the rock with his teeth. I'm pretty sure that wasn't the best idea.
Not a bad outing for our first serious ride on the mesa. It's interesting that we climbed a lot on the first mile out, but then rode downhill most of the way home.
Ashke got a good feed of warm bran (J said he started nickering when he heard the water turn on) and carrots. We loaded up the supplement bin with baggies of amplify and lysine for this week. I think I will have to get more Lysine in a couple of weeks.
One of the things they can do at this barn is leave the stall door open and put a stall guard up. A stall guard looks like this:
The stall guard allows the horse to lean out into the aisle and see what is going on. Ashke is so curious that I think he would love it. I asked Santa for it for Christmas and I have on pretty good authority that I've been a very good girl this year.