I went out to the barn at about 9:30 this morning. J and T were home working on getting him caught up in math. I wanted to work Ashke in the arena, and Sunday is a riding day, so I went out.
I miss Nicole.
We got saddled up and headed to the arena. I decided to take Nicole up on her offer and try her saddle pad she got from Back on Track. The saddle fit a lot better with the thinner pad. Ashke's back has filled in so much, I don't think he needs the thicker saddle pad. I think the Back on Track pad helped keep his back warm, and I think the better fit on the saddle also helped. All I know is we had a great ride.
For the first time, Ashke came back into my hand, dropped his head at the trot and brought his haunches up underneath him. Not for the entire ride, but often enough that I can see we are making progress. He tried really hard to do what I was asking him for. Our trot was much improved and he seemed a lot more settled. He even shared time and space in the arena with other horses without going all psycho on me. His head was down for most of the ride, sometimes he even managed to get it low enough to raise his back. I was very happy at his effort.
We cantered as well. Five or six times around to the left and four or so times around to the right. Our only bad moment came as I asked for a transition from canter to trot moving to the left. He stumbled and almost fell. I think he tweeked his right hammie with that stumble. He didn't move lame or feel off, but I wondered. He picked up his right lead just fine and felt more balanced at the canter today than he has in the past. He didn't charge off with me, and transitioned down to a trot when asked. When I walked him out to cool him off, he was walking pretty slow. Ashke was one tired pony.
When I stripped off the saddle and brushed him off, he reacted to the brush running over his hamstring. It seemed like it felt sensitive or tender to Ashke, so I spent some time rubbing it. I pulled out the horse liniment and applied it liberally to the right hammie. I will be back out on Tuesday, so I plan to either lunge or ride him to make sure the hamstring stays loose. I don't want a set back at this point.