Last night went something like this . . . .
I walk into the barn and whistle. Ashke throws his head up and frantically begins yelling,
"Mom, Mom, Mom. You are here."
"Hey Buddy, how's my boy?"
"Where are my carrots?!?!?!"
"Here you go." He gets two pieces to start, otherwise he gets really nippy.
"Nom, nom, nom."
I put his halter on, while he snuffles my sweatshirt for additional carrots (eternal optimist). We go over to the cross-ties and I hook him up, then grab the grooming kit.
"Mom, mom, mom."
"I'm here. Calm down."
"Is Cali coming? Huh? Huh? Is N here? Where's N? Why isn't Cali coming? Why, mom, why?" His whole body was straining to see if she was walking down the aisle toward him.
"I don't think she's coming, buddy."
Tail comes down and he stops dancing.
I groomed him, taking care to do extra on the ticklish spots. It never ceases to amaze me that he is shedding during the middle of winter when the highs were 9 degrees the day before. We took extra time over his haunches, because they seemed especially itchy. Then I brought out the saddle and set it on his back.
"TOO TIGHT, MOM!!!! The GIRTH is TOO TIGHT! I'm going to pass out. I can't breathe."
"It's not too tight Ashke."
"TOO TIGHT. It hurts! It Hurts!"
"It's not even on the saddle yet, doofus. See, it's here in my hand."
"Are you sure? You don't have two of those things, do you?"
"I'm sure. I'm going to hook it up now."
"Well, it's going to hurt."
"No, it's not. See?"
"It's too tight. I'm going to expire from lack of air. I can't breathe. I feel faint."
"IT'S NOT EVEN TOUCHING YOU!! I can see daylight between it and the bottom of your belly."
"oh. It's going to be too tight."
I swear he and T have more in common than you would think. And trust me, girls have nothing on boy drama. Over Christmas, T broke his little toe riding his new BMX bike. He didn't want me to touch it. I finally convinced him to let me tape it. I carefully taped it to the toe next to it with a flexible tape, then strapped the ball of his foot for more stability. When I was done, he burst into tears, saying it really hurt. I asked him if he had stepped on it, yet. He said no. Then he did and it didn't hurt any more. Ashke is exactly the same way.
We finished getting ready and went to the arena. Bentley was just leaving and then Wrangler left, so we had the arena to ourselves.
"Okay, Ashke, we are going to get ourselves centered and then move forward at a walk."
"What's that over there?"
"That is the corner of the arena. Just like it was the last time we rode."
"It's not scary, stop being a giraffe."
"There is white stuff on the ground. Inside!"
"It's snow and it's not even in the arena."
"The ground looks funny. I should mince over it. Oh! Look! A white horse!"
We stopped and admired the white horse in the mirror. He was the only other horse there.
We had some good moments. He is beginning to understand that I want him to walk with his head lower, rather than up in the air. It helps him focus too. We did walk-stop and walk-trot transitions, working more to the left than the right. No canter, since there was no one to find my body if something happened. Then we did some leg yields going counter-clockwise. After that we stopped and did our turns on the forehand, haunches and sidepassing. All of which were better.
"No, buddy, we still need to leg yield to the right."
"Nope. Done. We are always done after the turns. I don't want to go any more."
"No, Ashke. We are not done. We are doing things in a different order this time."
"You. Will. Move. Forward."
"Trot. Trot. Damnit, I pay the freaking bills, I say when we are done! Now TROT!"
"What was that Ashke? Can you please just trot? There is no need to jig."
"AAAAAAHHHHHHHHGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!! It is so scary I must spook at the gate and go sideways fifteen feet! HA! Take that you fiendish rider."
"You jerk. There is nothing to spook at there." Slap on the shoulder with my hand.
"Scared! Scared! You hit me on the shoulder with your hand."
"You tried to dump me on the ground by the gate. For no reason."
"You are being a jerk. You will stand here until your head comes down and you soften."
"No. . . . No. . . . . Well, okay."
"You will walk forward with your head down. Use your back. Do not look at anything outside the arena."
"You will trot now, with rhythm, to the right, with your head down. Good. Now we will do our leg yields from the Quarterline to the outside rail, which you will do willingly. Now."
"Good boy. Now we can be done."
We walked a bit on a loose rein and he stretched downward a lot. We stopped and I got off, running up the stirrups and loosening his girth. We were at the far end of the arena (I don't get off by the gate, and try to pick a different spot each time we are done working) and as I led him back to the gate, he reached out and bumped the back of my shoulder with his nose. This is something he does when he is seeking reassurance. It's almost like he is checking that it is still me.
"Do you still love me, mom?"
"I still love you Ashke."
"Sorry I was a jerk."
"Are you still angry."
"No, It's in the past. You are a good boy!"
"Are there carrots. . . ."