We had planned on doing a trail ride, but are going to have to wait until N can get Michelle out to fit boots and then get them ordered. Cali's front feet are where Ashke's were three weeks ago. I told N she could use my Farrier's Friend hoof stuff on her feet, so hopefully she will do so.
Ashke was eating when I walked up to him. He looked at me, then turned and walked outside while I was grabbing the halter. I followed him out and when I got to the doorway of the stall and the run, he spun around and whinnied at me like he had just realized I was there. HA! I wasn't fooled. He stuck his head in the halter and led me toward the grooming stalls. He is going to be so bored when I am gone. Poor boy.
I brushed him real good, spending extra time with the rubber curry getting the loose hair off. His shoulders are going grey because the hair is getting thinner there. His haunches are still shedding pretty well. I was admiring how strong his back is becoming and how much muscle he has gained in the area on both sides of his spine. This was pretty evident later on in our day, because of some of the things he was able to do. I love grooming him and seeing his coat shine and I know he likes it too. I got him saddled and ready to go and we followed Cali out to the dressage arena. I watched Cali real close but she was sound on the way to the arena.
Ashke and I started in the dressage arena. We walked and then trotted in both directions for about fifteen minutes. He did real well, except for the wanting to canter episode we had. I was calm but firm and kept reiterating that I wanted a trot. He is definitely progressing and certainly loves being out of the indoor arena. We left the dressage arena and trotted around the front field before heading to the obstacles.
I started with the L walkthrough/backthrough obstacle first. I got off and started leading forward through the L and then asking Ashke to retrace the obstacle going backwards. He kept turning his hind end to the right (if you are standing in front of him looking back down his body). I tried turning his head to get him to swing his butt the other way and he just kidney beaned. It was very frustrating and at one point he bit at me and I smacked him, which was not the way I wanted this to go. Finally, I decided I was doing to much to start (listened to the Mark Rashid angel sitting on my right shoulder) and I widened the L (I thought about the story of teaching the Orcas to jump over the rope and how they started with the rope on the bottom of the pool and slowly raised it). I walked him forward to the corner of the L and then asked him to back out of it. He did that with alacrity. I rewarded him with a peppermint, which doubled his interest immediately. I walked him to the bend and about half way around it, then asked him to back out. He did it perfectly. We then walked all the way to the end of the L and backed all the way back through the L, which earned him a lot of praise and another peppermint. We did that a couple more times and then I got back on him.
We went out and trotted around the field, giving him an opportunity to stretch his back and neck and clear his head. Then we went back to the obstacle and tried. The first couple of times he turned his butt toward the edge of the L the same way he was when he was going through it from the ground. I kept looking over my left shoulder at the poles and getting frustrated that we were still dealing with the same issue. I stopped him and moved him forward again. The same thing happened. I stopped him and we moved forward when the Mark angel whispered that I needed to look where I wanted him to go, not where he kept messing up. I cranked my body around to the right and sure enough, he turned correctly and backed out of the L. I was freaking ecstatic.
Pretty sweet, huh?
We moved onto the gate opening. I had a dressage whip that I was using to ask Ashke to move his hip over. He figured out the cue pretty darn quick and was turning on the forehand pretty nicely after just a couple of tries. We opened and closed the gate several times and then I asked N to film it, thinking I was pretty hot stuff (that is never a good thing to think -pride goeth and all that.)
It was pretty frustrating to have the camera on and Ashke not doing what I wanted. Unfortunately for me, it wasn't his fault. I realized I was stopping him before he had cleared the gate and what he was responding to was the threatened pinching of his rear end. (Again the MR angel whispering in my ear.) I fixed it the second time through and Ashke was perfect.
He got lots of praise and peppermints. Then N and I rode about the property. We had a couple of sweet canters and when we moved south of the creek to the area where they have some of the cross-country course Ashke and Cali were both moving forward very well. There is an jumping obstacle that has three sections. It is a simple vertical, but it's made of stuff that doesn't fall apart if you hit it, like railroad ties with landscaping timbers for the crossbar, held together with strapping. Not very forgiving. There is one section that is about 3', a second section that is 2'6" and then a third section that on the far outside edge is 2', but angles down to 6" or so. The logs are pretty wide - maybe 18" - so for a horse that has struggled to go over a simple 18" crossrail in the indoor arena, the lower part of this jump is challenging. A week or so ago, I asked Ashke to step over the lower part of this jump and he did, with minimal snorting. Today, when we got out there, I asked Ashke to go over it again. I figure it's good practice for anything we might find on the trail. N and Cali followed us over in a very nice jump. We moved around to the left and back down the hill toward the creek. Cali moved out of her trot into a canter, which incited Ashke to canter, and Cali rushed for the jump. N was grinning ear to ear on the other side. Ashke followed her over it, with a very sweet jump. It was amazing how willing he was and how fun it was to go over the jump. We stopped, however, because Cali is only four and too young to be jumping that much.
It did tell me, however that Ashke is able to do things now he wasn't able to do in February. His back and hip are completely healed and he is eager to follow Cali any where. I don't think we will ever be jumpers, but it will be good to know he can clear an 18" jump because those are commonplace in trail classes. It's also good to know he is benefiting from the PT we are doing.
Also, there are going to be at least four shows at TMR this year. We are going to have to miss the first one, which is next week, because of a wedding, but I can and will do the other three. Probably do Western pleasure, western equitation and trail. It should be fun and I know Ashke will enjoy it.