Last night was the fourth day in a row I got to ride. That hasn't happened since T started school last fall. It has been a great four days and I am so happy I got to spend so much time with my boy. J and T were wonderfully giving to allow me so much time with Ashke. And Ashke loved it too.
I got to the barn and spent the first fifteen minutes watching Beaux and Troy bond and play in the jumping arena. Beaux is a beautiful Morgan-Friesan cross with gorgeous movement but the unruly attitude of a horse gelded late and poorly (I suspect he was proud-cut) who has never had the luxury of just being a horse. He and Troy raced around and bucked and kicked and generally carried on for fifteen minutes or so. He is such a beautiful mover, however he acts like a stud with no ground manners and the woman who bought him didn't want to deal, so she turned him back over to the original owner and bought herself a different horse. N says she would take him in a minute, if she could. I think he's way more horse than I would want and unless I was interested in having a trainer and doing something like Saddleseat with him, he would be a waste of my time and money.
Besides, I love Ashke.
We started in the arena, doing walk and trot. I can now get Ashke to bring his head down and feel collected under me (something we were working on during our trail rides) for half the circuit of the indoor and then he comes unraveled underneath me for several strides. N just thinks he still needs to work up the muscle and strength to do it full time. He was barefoot and did great for the entire night. (I will still boot when we go out. The hoof toughener seems to be helping a lot.) We did one circuit of the indoor at a canter and then I went to look for N who was there late.
We decided to go the dressage arena and ride some. Cali was being headstrong and difficult. It took a lot of N's patience and back/shoulder/arm muscles to deal with her. After about forty five minutes, Cali finally settled and did what N asked her to do. I keep telling N that Cali will outgrow this stage - in ten or so years. N is not amused.
Ashke and I did some trot work in the dressage arena, then I started moving him away from leg pressure. We did some leg yields across the arena and he moves right to left really well. The left to right, just like always, is more difficult. Overall, he was very responsive. I also worked on turning on the forehand and turning on the hind. We seem to mostly have our cues worked out so he knows what I am asking. Once he knows, he is very willing to do whatever I ask.
After that, I vacated the arena and let N and Cali work. I worked with Ashke sidestepping up to and object and then standing still while I shook, rattled, grabbed, leaned on, and otherwise messed with the object (I was trying to lift the coiled lunge rope off of the side of a wooden stand). Once he finally relaxed and stood still, I lifted the rope and we began working through the different ways in which the rope might find itself around a horse. I rubbed his neck and face, letting him sniff and lip at the coils, then brushed it down the sides and over his butt. I bounced the rope on all of those places and he got to the point where he was falling asleep. Good boy.
Next, I let the rope hang down behind us and we practiced dragging it all over the property. We turned in both directions, sometimes walking back over the rope, letting it tangle and slide over and through his legs, until he no longer paid any attention to it. Then I switched sides and worked the rope on the other side. Swear to whatever, after fifteen minutes he could have cared less about the rope. I coiled it up, hung it on the fence and moved on.
The barn has several trail ride obstacles set up. There is a bridge (no problem) and three different kinds of gates, a mail box and some tires. We worked on sidestepping up to the gate and standing still while I rattled and shook it. He does really great until we are on the other side and he doesn't get what I want him to do after that. I think he figures we're through, who needs to close it. I am going to work with the gate from the opposite side next time, until he understands I want him to sidle up to it sideways and stand, regardless of what the gate is doing. We also went over a fairly decent sized log, which he crossed with no issues.
I want to take a tarp out and stake it out on the ground so we can work with walking over it. There are enough tires to make up an obstacle, even if we have to get Rob to help us bury them half way in the ground so the horses can safely walk through them. We are going to need to find something we can drag at the end of a rope for another obstacle, plus I need to find barrels and poles for a couple of other obstacles. We can create an entire trail class out there, which will be so much fun. Ashke loves to learn that kind of stuff.
He was so good I don't have enough adjectives to describe it.