Can you guess?
I met N at the barn and we got the horses tacked up. We trucked over to the indoor arena and lunged. Ashke was stiff and a tad bit sore in the right hind. Diane may be right. He may just short stride for the rest of his life. He gets better as he gets warm and it's been cold this week. All I can do is continue to ride and work and see what happens. He lunged for a bit in each direction and for the first time in a long time, he didn't cross canter at all. He let me know when he was warm and ready to be ridden, so I walked him over and swung on.
He walked off before I was seated. We stopped, backed up and I swung off. We walked back over and this time I told him to "Stand". He did until I was in the saddle, rewarded him with a pat on the neck and a good boy, then asked him to walk on. He did. We walked in both directions a couple of circuits around the arena. I turned him to the right and asked him to trot. It took two turns before he relaxed, dropped his head and moved into a frame. We did a couple of transitions and then I realized out of the corner of my eye that N had asked Cali to canter.
I had a moment of insanity. That's the only explanation. I had a fleeting thought that I hadn't worked Ashke enough to canter yet (he was feeling fresh), but did I stop? Oh, hell no, I asked him for a canter. He moved into a canter, but on the incorrect lead. I slowed him, repositioned him and asked again. This time he picked up the canter on the correct lead. He saw Cali cantering in front of him and started to pick up speed.
Did I mention there were seven horses and Cassandra giving a lesson in the indoor arena?
Ashke could see Cali cantering in front of him and started to gallop. In the indoor. With a ton of other horses. I started to ask him verbally to slow down. N heard me and asked Cassandra if she should stop. She did, expecting Ashke to slow down and stop when he passed her. I was holding on with my left hand and trying to stop Ashke with my right. He blew past her like she wasn't even there and paid zero attention to my ask. A quarter turn around the arena and he was still ignoring me.
I was pissed. I said to him, "ok, you Mother Fucker! You want to run, run!" I booted him hard in the sides with both heels.
He bucked and then bolted.
Everyone moved away from the rail and into the center of the arena. And then watched us run around the outside of the arena at a gait just short of a dead run. Cassandra started talking to me, trying to coach me into easing him down. About the fifth time we went around the arena I was beginning to despair of him ever stopping. He is an Arabian and bred for endurance. Could he run for an hour? Riding him to the right is tough and I was wondering how much longer I could stay on, if I would just go limp and slip off. You have been to the circus, right? Have you ever seen the monkey perched on top of the dog going hell-bent-for-leather? That's what I felt like. Monkey me.
On circuit six, he finally pulled to a stop. I just sat there and gasped for breath, feeling the sweat pour off of me, shaking, with tears leaking from my eyes. The adrenaline made me feel sick. N walked Cali over to me, talking softly and I'm not even sure what she said. All I could focus on was the sight of my hands resting on Ashke's withers.
I finally caught my breath and turned him to the left. We did walk-trot transitions for ten minutes. Ten steps walk. Ten steps trot. In a frame. Then N cantered in front of me and Ashke cantered behind. On lead. Under control. To the left for four circuits. Cali stopped after one and a half, but I kept Ashke going. This time he came back to a trot, in a frame and under control. Then I stopped him and we turned to the center of the arena. We sat and watched Margaret ride one of the Friesans she shows, marveling at his flexion and his collected canter.
I told N I wanted to ride to the right one more time before I finished. I let everyone know that I was going to try a canter again. Everyone moved off the rail and I took Ashke out. I listened to what Cassandra had told me and locked the outside rein in my left hand while holding the front of the saddle. I asked Ashke to slow and listen to the inside rein. He did for a couple of steps. This time, when I asked after two circuits, he moved back down into a collected trot and then a walk. I was very pleased and we were done. Ashke got lots of praise.
Cassandra told me later she really wanted to holler, "Yeehaw!" when I booted him into a run. N told me she was thinking of moving Cali to the rail to block Ashke. They both suggested that next time I try a one rein stop, but when I've tried that on the trail, I've run into issues with him feeling unsteady on his feet and there were nine horses in the arena at the time that I didn't want to have to worry about. One of them was on a lunge line. It could have been really messy. He can turn so quick that I worry I could pull himself off balance and go down. I'd rather not have another horse fall with me.
On a good note, Cassandra said that I didn't look out of control or scared. It never looked like I was unsteady on him or ready to come off. N also told me that she wouldn't have kept riding Cali if something like that had happened to her - she would have gotten off for at least a little bit. I didn't even consider it. However, I was really sick walking back to the barn. Adrenaline can do that to a person. Good news was, I didn't throw up.