Today, Nicole decided to move Cali. She is moving to the far end of the barn, with about half the barn between Cali and Ashke. Nicole thinks they are too attached and it is time to neighus interuptus. I agree with her. Ashke has been pushy moving from turn-out to the stall. He has ran himself into an absolute lather when she is taken away from him. And today, he reared up in the grooming stall and tried to trample me when Nicole headed to the arena without us. (He got yelled at and slapped on the shoulder for that one.) It is time to curb this co-dependence.
Today was blustery and windy and cold. We rode in the indoor arena and both Nicole and I were amazed we were the only riders in there. Ashke was awesome. We walked and trotted until he was warmed up. We cantered in both directions on the correct lead without cross cantering. This was a first. Nicole had stopped riding, not wanting to over exert Cali while getting back into riding, and was talking me through the canter. She had me settle him into the trot first and then ask for the canter. Nicole wanted me to get out of his face and see what happens when we canter on a loose rein. We tried it first clockwise. Ashke was a little ragged, but not as bad as he has been in the past. I'm thinking balancing his feet made a huge difference. We turned and moved to the left. Ashke picked up the canter so easy and we rode around two or three times on a loose rein. He was so relaxed and easy.
I am very pleased with the progress we are making. His hamstring is getting stronger. His walk has expanded and lengthened, quicker and with better action than before we went to Diane. I think he can outwalk any of the horses I've been riding with. We knew he could outwalk Cali. He's walking better now. His trot is settling and extending. His back is getting stronger. And we are doing a lot of work on leg yields and transitions. Both of those things are helping his hammie. I was telling Nicole that Ashke hated cantering in the old arena, because of the size and the difficulty in moving around the corners on either end. I think he is much more comfortable now.
Today was the first time I was able to ride since Thursday. Friday was too emotionally draining to try and yesterday was too busy. I think the day or two between work is working for Ashke. It's giving him time to recuperate between work. I left him in the grooming stall while I fixed his mash and carrots. He was turning his head and nickering at me while I was warming it up. He's so cute.
I cut off his mane today. I cut it at the line where the new, healthy growth was. I'm sure it will be better and look better when it grows out again. For now, the cut is very similar to that of a reining horse.
I know one of the biggest issues I have is relearning how to ride the canter. Today was a great step forward in trusting him to not shy sideways, to want to canter well with me, and for me to start relearning my balance. My seat. How the hell to ride in a saddle. And then, maybe I can start trying the bridleless riding. And bareback (well, on a pad anyway.) And I am beginning to think I might have an endurance horse on my hands.