Today was a day of firsts . . .
We couldn't trailer out of the barn so we decided to ride up North Table Mountain.
For the first time, ever, Ashke walked up the hill with his head at a decent height. At a couple of points going uphill he dropped his head and really put his butt into it like he was pulling a cart. N said his tail was straight, even when we were on a steep grade and that his buttocks looked even (muscles bunching evenly on either side). This is a huge improvement over the giraffey, head cocked to the side action we were experiencing last December.
When we got to the steep part of the grade, I asked him for a canter. I let him go as fast as he wanted and I could hear N behind me encouraging Cali to try and catch us. Laughing out loud, I asked Ashke if he was a race horse or not. A hundred yards up the hill (it's a 1000 foot climb) he suddenly stopped. We turned sideways on the trail and let them huff. They were both puffing heavily. Once they had caught their breath, Ashke turned and headed right back up the hill.
Towards the top, where the climb isn't as steep, we cantered again. They were having a wonderful run, but Ashke was being a bit spooky. It was also pretty hot, so after about a hundred yards, we slowed again. On the top of the mountain, we walked them out and then turned around. They were both very careful about going down the steep part of the trail.
About the time we were hitting the bottom of the mountain, a cloud came in and lowered the temps and the horses got a bit up. We responded by cantering up the next section of trail and Ashke jumped into a hard canter. He shifted up into high gear when he heard Cali behind him, but after covering about half the distance up, I had to slow him because there is a blind curve at the top of the hill. Both N and I were laughing at the top.
All of the bike riders were polite and pleasant, taking the time to step off their bikes and let us go by. It was a nice change.
The refrain running through my head was "I galloped. I galloped."