I had a come to Jesus sort of moment last night.
My horse has gone from emaciated to rotund. My idea that I would be working him enough to keep him slim isn't working. I don't think I can find the time to do the type of riding I need to do to turn all that butter into muscle.
Seriously! He's becoming pudgy. I don't think I need to feed him like he's still skinny any more. It was not enough to stop feeding the amplify, I need to cut back on the alfalfa as well. He is not going to be happy with me.
I was talking to N after my ride, she was in one grooming stall with Cali next to us, just hanging out, and she said that we wanted to be able to feel the ribs, and maybe just see a hint of them when he moved. I said, "I can feel them if I poke really hard", which Ashke didn't find amusing when I demonstrated, but which absolutely cracked N up. I mean, the boy looks pregnant.
So, after much discussion with Dessa and N, I started by switching from 3 flakes of alfalfa and 3 of grass, to all six grass. I am going to continue with the one pound of strategy I am feeding, for the supplements and minerals. Dessa said that the alfalfa and strategy will make him hot. I pointed out that Arabs are hot by nature. She said it would make them more hot. I answered by telling her I like em hot. And I do. I would rather have a horse with too much forward, then one I am constantly beating. (I don't really beat them.) Anyway, I have always enjoyed the "up" nature of Arabians, their sensitivity and reactions.
When I first got to the barn I decided I would work him some in the dressage arena. We saddled up, this time with the blanket placed under the saddle correctly. I swear I was using it exactly the way it was in the bag when I bought it. Anyway, we walked out to the dressage arena and practiced walk/halt/walk with the emphasis on halt until I gave a definitive cue. Then we worked on walk/trot and trotting in a collected manner, without trying to gallop, or rear, in a smooth cadence. He got it fairly well going counter-clockwise, but gave up the ghost going in the other direction. Can someone please explain to me how in the world that works?
Our next task was to work on moving the hind quarters over when walking and trotting on the diagonal. Again, he was much better moving from left to right, because of his hip issues, so we spent some extra time moving from right to left. He is putting together what I want when I touch him with my heel. I have to be so careful, because he reads leg pressure as asking him to go forward, which sometimes results in too much go. However, between working him on the diagonal, and working with the gates, he has figured out what I am asking for when touch him with my heel.
I asked him for one canter down the middle of the arena and he was so out of control I almost got thrown. It was like riding a pogo-stick with four pogos. All I can figure is he no longer remembered he was in a dressage arena and he could see freedom. I had to use a one-rein stop to get him turned and under control, which meant we spun in a circle until we were both dizzy. I decided we had both had enough of the arena and it was time to work on something else.
We did the gate and the bridge in both directions. He has the gates down. When we opened and went through from the right side (where his right shoulder is next to the gate) as we went through and the gate swung after us, he began his panicked reaction but halted when I asked him to. He then listened to the touch of my heel and swung him butt back around. Getting him to back up next to the gate, rather than swinging his hip away, was more difficult, but we managed to get the gate locked without me letting go. From the other side, he was perfect. I will see if J can get video on Thursday when we do our ride together.
Ashke was still full of energy, so we went back to the barn at a pretty quick clip, with a small jump over the ditch we have been working on. I booted him and off we went. (I texted J and N before hand to let them know I was riding out alone).
He was excited to get out, but not entirely sure this was the direction he wanted to go. I'm pretty sure he wanted to do the lake trail, but I'm not crazy about going out by myself in a direction where he would have to cross traffic to get home in case he dumped me.
Once again we walked up hill with his head canted to the side, but this time it was in both directions. It was more like he wanted to look behind him, rather than forward. When we were almost to the top of the hill we were accosted by two squeeling children and their older terrified sibling. I don't know which is worse. I dismounted and let Ashke greet them. He did well. I then went on.
I think I've mentioned that I hate going out and back on the same trail. I decided that I would head North across an open field toward the housing development that sits just to the west of the barn. Worse case scenario, I turn around and ride back up. Best case, I find a route back to the barn. We had to cautiously walk through a prairie dog colony, which Ashke found mildly entertaining, if the snorting and pricked ears were any indication. We just walked and he got pretty good about neck reining away from the holes. Not that I would do it at speed, but it was good practice at a walk.
As luck would have it, there was an opening in the fence, and with some caution, we walked through and into the neighborhood. We wandered back past a playground and the swimming pool. Ashke did great. We eventually wound around to the area where N has her house and met up with her and R.