I almost had a really bad night. A night to rival the one a week or so ago. A night where I get frustrated and angry and take it out on my horse.
It started with Ashke not wanting to give to pressure. Any pressure tonight made him want to stop moving. At any gait. A firm outside rein made him bend to the outside. Asking him to soften to the inside made him turn in a tight circle. Asking him to trot in rhythm made him jig and try to pop up into a canter.
So very different from our ride on Saturday.
I was getting more and more frustrated when N entered the arena with Cali. She could tell I was having a hard time and asked me what was going on. It just made me more frustrated. I could tell I was going to lose it. I realized I needed to do something different. I got off and went to get the lunge line and side reins. I needed to get Ashke in the headset for what I wanted him to do.
The walk from the indoor arena to the grooming stall helped me calm down and refocus. Ashke is so sensitive to my mood and energy, that my being upset puts him on edge. It does not make things better. I got the reins and the lunge line and went back to the indoor arena. We worked on the side reins.
He did awesome. He even cantered to the left without cross cantering except for three strides and all I had to do was say, "No" and he broke for two steps to the trot and then picked up the correct lead again. After ten minutes of lunging I got back on.
He was much better. He gave me a great trot in both directions and we even managed to canter for several turns. I did realize that cantering when we are out on the trail hasn't done either of us any good. When I ask him for the canter we get really out of whack because he is anticipating that I am going to grab at his mouth and tell him to stop. I need to get him cantering and forward on a loose rein before asking him to canter with pressure.
N suggested doing a lunge line lesson, where I don't have to control him and can just figure out how to balance and ride. I talked to Cassandra about it before I left the barn. I think we are going to try one next Weds.
I was in tears. She was very supportive and encouraging and told me not to rush and not to give up. I asked her if I had to ride Ashke in a frame every time we rode, because I think tonight he was done. He just wanted to have a fun ride with me, with his head up and looking around. We didn't get out on the trail and he was missing it. Cassandra told me it was okay to let him have some time off - it wasn't going to ruin him and he might be even stronger the next time. That was good to hear.
Thursday night, my goal will be to get a decent canter/lope out of him without pulling on his mouth. I want him to know we can canter without him getting jammed or me getting scared. I want him to figure out he can canter without it being a dead run. We are going to work on the gait and then the collection.
His turn on the forehand and side pass was incredible. Turn on the haunches still needs a little work. He's getting there.