Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Night Lights

Today was interesting. For a start, the wonderful weather we've been enjoying has been replaced by below freezing temps, snow, heavy cloud cover and fog. It's nasty out and pretty darn cold. Huge change from the warm, shirt-sleeve weather I enjoyed two days ago.

We started our day by going to Ace Hardware Coop in Brighton. They have a feed store and are the only place close to where we live that carries pure Lysine. We drove out and got a mineral/salt holder, a fleece cooler blanket for the walk from the arena to the barn in the cold, two peppermint hanging treats to keep him entertained, a new pair of gloves to replace the one I lost on our last ride, and a 40# bag of bran. I also asked them to order 2 bags of Amplify in the 50# bags, so I could pick them up sometime late next week. I was pretty pleased because the price of the bran was half of what the fifty pound bag was at Murdocks.

We loaded up and headed home. It was late in the afternoon before I managed to get out to see Ashke. He was standing in his stall in his blanket. He hadn't been eating his hay and he was sweating under the blanket. I stripped it off of him and left a note for the barn crew not to blanket him inside. I don't want him to colic just because he is too warm. I groomed him good - although I must say I'm surprised that he is shedding as bad as he is in January - and saddled him up. I covered him with the cooler and headed to the arena.

My only complaint, and it's a small one, is the lighting in the indoor arena. It's pretty dim in there. There is a bank of lights, but less than half are lit. I asked Cinnamon about it tonight and the ballasts are out in the dark ones, they are so old you can no longer replace the ballasts, and they basically have to replace the entire bank of light fixtures. That's not going to be cheap. Right now, the focus is on buying good hay and that other stuff is going to have to wait until the price and availability of hay gets better. I'm on board with that, although it would also be good to have improved lighting.

Cinnamon had a class of five jumpers tonight, so I worked the rail in the arena and tried to stay out of the way. Ashke was a little freaked out by the jumps, but worked through it. We walked to warm up, trotted a lot in both directions and then cantered on the correct lead in both directions. He did awesome. He is listening so much better and I am riding him better. Tonight was about using my thighs to maintain my seat, and getting him to relax and give to the bit.

I love the new bit, by the way. It is pretty sweet and I love how well he listens to me. Our only issue was backing and it wasn't until I cued him with my legs the way I have been that he dropped his head and backed. He's so smart and I have to be consistent in order to get the performance from him.

When we cantered, I eased forward and asked him for more speed instead of fighting to keep him slow. I think he was surprised and didn't know exactly what to do. He sped up, while maintaining his balance and was able to transition down into the trot when I asked. It was a very solid ride. I stopped before he was too warm. Then we walked several circuits to relax and cool him off. I covered him with the cooler until his body temp was down. No chill for our boy.

It was a good night. I was very pleased with Ashke's responsiveness and I think he enjoyed the ride. I made the jump from struggling to ride the canter, to concentrating on Ashke and letting my body do what it knows to do. As my confidence grows, my riding ability increases and I stop fighting myself. I don't know how else to explain it.

I checked his feet and they are looking very good. His face is scraped up, but I guess that's because he plays with the horse right next to him under the fence. They seem to really like each other and Fool (yes, that's his name) nickers at Ashke every time Ashke comes back.

No riding tomorrow. Bronco game. Oh, and possibly 4-H for T. More on that later.

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