Well, last night was a lesson in patience, for both N and myself. And perseverance. And in not beating one's horse.
While we were getting them ready (they are both shedding like mad and Ashke's hair has gotten so thin and sleek that he is going gun metal grey on his shoulders and neck) N wondered out loud if she should work Cali in the sidereins, to help Cali remember that they have work to do. She opted out of sidereins, which she lamented about loudly as Cali was bucking, rearing and kicking her way in an all out battle of wills.
I was amused at Cali's behavior (I find it hilarious to watch her rear and kick when N asks her to disengage her hindquarters - although I know I would be frustrated and a little angry if I were N) while warming up Ashke, and feeling not a little bit of pleasure that Ashke had matured past the point of throwing tantrums. And you know what they say, Pride goes before a fall.
Luckily, I didn't fall, but I did have my horse suffer through about fifteen minutes of insanity. He started rearing, little bitty crowhops and a couple of loud snorts. I don't know if the issue was Tonka, complete with bright blue leg wraps which he was valiantly trying to jump out of, or something I could neither see or sense that was making both horses completely out of control. Ashke held still while I dismounted (thankfully - that's my least favorite thing when dealing with an out of control horse) but exploded away from me as soon as I was on the ground. He bolted in a circle around me at the end of the rein (roper - see earlier post) at a dead run, bucking and kicking and flagging his tail. He only made one serious attempt to get away and then seemed perfectly content to tear around doing Arabian scuttlebutt for a good fifteen minutes. In a fifteen foot circle around me until he was drenched with sweat.
N laughed at me.
I'm not sure why both horses were behaving the way they were. I think it might have something to do with fall coming, but probably more likely has to do with the death of one of the barn horses. Lady was 36. An Arabian mare who was found dead in her paddock on Tuesday morning. I'm sure that the horses know in that way that animals have to communicate with each other and both of our horses were unsettled and distraught by the event. At least that's my guess. Either that or the blue leg wrappings were evil. One or the other.
After the willies were out, I remounted and asked Ashke for some work. We did walk-halt-back transitions, walk-trot transitions, walk-trot-halt-back work, some leg yields and some decent canters in both directions. This time, I cantered the ends of the arena and then asked him to trot the length, collecting himself before cantering again. That was a wonderful piece of work and we achieved a really nice canter to the right for the first time ever with him on the correct lead. I might not have believed in dressage movement to help your horse become balanced and collected, but I am beginning to believe in it now.
To finish up, N and I walked in big circles and talked while the horses cooled down. They were pretty much dry when we got back to the barn, but still needed rinsing. Neither of them wanted to go in the wash stall. I've never seen Cali so much as hesitate and this time she snorted and shied and backed up and absolutely didn't want to go in. N was patient and finally coaxed her into the stall. Ashke and I spent fifteen minutes, a handful of peppermints and finally had to resort to a carrot to get him inside. Something didn't smell right to them.
At the end of the day, no one was hurt, no one got beat and we had a decent ride for such an eventful evening. Hopefully, Cali will be better tonight.