Sunday, N checked Ashke for me, since she was at the barn a couple of times to put the BOT standing wraps on Cali and then take them off the next morning. She said he looked good and gave him some Bute. I went out on Monday and just let him W/T/C at his own pace in the round pen for about 20 minutes. He was wanting to cross canter at the Canter and had a couple of strides that looked off, but overall was so much better. I gave him another dose of Bute and sprayed his back with Sore No More.
Tuesday I met N at the barn and we got ready. I used her BOT pad (Cali hasn't had any issues since she got her new saddle, so the BOT stuff is going unused) and we went to the outdoor arena. I started by walking him around the outdoor in-hand (which I know he enjoys) and then swung up. We walked and worked on lengthening his walking stride into the long, swift swinging walk we usually find on the trail. I worked on asking him to give to the bit and to keep his head in a good position. The mosquitoes were horrible, so we moved into the inside arena (too much rain and then temps in the upper 70's - expecting snow on Friday though, so those biting buggers will be gone soon enough).
Inside he was nippy, biting at me and then throwing his head up and bracing away from me. I mounted and we walked for another circuit and then I asked for the trot. This time he was able to bring his head down, round his back and propel from his butt. We did one circuit and then we turned to the left. N hollered at me and told me to straighten up and stop staring at his head. I found I was leaning half way out of the saddle, staring at his head. I straightened up and looked at where I wanted him to go, trying to time my ask and release from how it felt rather than what I was seeing. We made it one circuit around the arena before Ashke started trying to get out of the frame. He tries to pop up in front and move into a trot. When that doesn't work, he feels like he's not moving forward any more, even though he is. I just asked him to bring his head down and step under himself and we did another quarter circle and then we stopped trotting.
I spent the rest of the ride working on sidepassing, walking with contact and with asking him to reach down or collect up without moving his feet. That was probably the most interesting exercise.
When we unsaddled I gave his back a good massage with Sore No More, paying special attention to his right flank and left wither (remember he had no left wither when we fitted the saddle because he had been compensating for his injury by using his right shoulder/wither and his left hip.) I'm sure if his right hip is still sore so is his left shoulder. He was bedded down in his stall with carrots. I won't ride him again until Sunday because of work, T's football and the weather. We are going to trail ride on Sunday, up on the Mesa, which should be fun.
I really think we have reached a turning point with Ashke's back. He is able to achieve collection and hold a frame for a short period of time. I have to be consistent and not overwork his back. The knot over his flank on the right side has gotten smaller, in part I think because of the anti-inflamatory cream I used on him on Saturday. I think the struggle I have had over the past year and a half in getting him to lower his head has been entirely back related. In retrospect, I'm not sure he could have achieved what we are doing now any earlier in his rehab. I can see the results in Cali and N's slow but persistent approach to developing her and I'm excited to see that happen with Ashke.
I am still interested in having MJ work on him with the laser.