Sunday, June 8, 2014


We had two wonderful rides planned this weekend: One to Chatfield Reservoir and one to Marshall Lake.

Colorado had other plans. Rain. A lot of lightning. Much Thunder. Seven tornados.

We opted not to trailer out either day.

Saturday we spent building more obstacles for the WE course we are putting up on the property. We added a varied footing obstacle and added the lance and target obstacle. I took the inside rubber ball toy that came out of a dog toy and partially filled it with water to use as the target until I get a quintain built that has a large target, a small target and rings for the lance to lift off. I'm really excited about the quintain, but until then, the ball will work very well. In addition, we built a car wash with pvc pipes and swim noodles. We still need to do some work on the car wash and we need to trim the poles we are using for the reinback obstacle, but otherwise, it's coming along nicely.

After working on the obstacles, we rode in the indoor arena. I rode Ashke in the new halter Liz sent to me, which has a side pull and Ashke was wonderful in it. I don't worry as much about accidentally popping him in the mouth when we were riding in the side pull. His transitions are getting better and he was very receptive to my requests to slow, even without the bit in his mouth. I did discover that when I am asking him to be in a frame in the side-pull that he still works his mouth as if the bit is there.

On Sunday, we had every intention of riding. The risk of rain was the same as Saturday and we packed rain coats for the "just in case". Sunday was the day that all hell broke loose. I am really glad we didn't try to haul out because loading in hail and pelting rain, with the threat of tornadoes and incredible lightning does not sound like fun to me. By the time we got to the barn, it was obvious we were going to stay at the barn and not try to trailer any where, so we rode in the indoor arena.

There I discovered I am afraid of contact. It feels like too much and I am afraid that I am going to hurt his mouth. N worked with me to show me how much contact at the canter there should be and demonstrated with her reins how to move with his mouth from my elbows.

Don't laugh. This is all new to me. Queenie and I could ride with a piece of bailing twine around her neck. The concept of contact and dressage is something I have come to with this horse, born from the desire to make him stronger.

We did better. His transitions are getting better. He is maintaining his trot after coming down from the canter, which is better. He is not being so anxious when we are doing the transitions, which is a huge step forward for him. So, even though our ride was fairly short, he did really well. We opted to go to the WE obstacles when Michelle, our H/J trainer showed up in the arena with four new riders under the age of eight and their school horses. We left her to it and went outside.

It had stopped raining.

We did the course.

We started from the ground and introduced all of the obstacles. Then we played.
This is the lance pick up, knock the target with the lance and lance drop off. It counts as three obstacles in WE.

Eventually, we will have a large target, a small target and rings as the target part of the obstacle for the various levels.

Ashke is not as fond of this particular gate as he is of the other one we practiced on last summer.
He's still a rock star though. 

I have to say that this particular talent has been used IRL more than anything else we have learned. The ability to open and close a gate without dismounting is something I have used more than any other on the trail.

Jumping is something I have NEVER done. It is something that scares me. Ashke has had issues because of his right hind leg with jumping even a small cross rail. 
N has been working with me to get me comfortable jumping the incredible height of a straw bale.

Today we both nailed it and had a blast. Can't wait to take a couple of jumping lessons with Michelle, so I know how to properly jump without bashing my horse.

There is a varied footing obstacle and then a rein back obstacle.
He snorted softly the first time we did the varied footing, which is black mulch in a box, but then walked through it.

We haven't practiced the reinback obstacle since last summer. He remembered and did an awesome job at it. He knew exactly what he needed to do.

Two barrel obstacle. Still need to work on bend, but not a bad thing for where we are in our process.

We started the sidepass obstacle moving from right to left, which is Ashke's strong side. He did great.


When we got to the end of the pole I asked him to move back the other way. He was very confused by the request and kept trying to move in the original direction. I walked him away and then brought him back and he figured it out. Left to right is so much harder on him. 

Note to self: I need to walk around a circle before asking him to change directions.

Next weekend is the WE clinic and schooling show. No dressage part, but we will be able to ride in an English Pleasure class and a Fantasy Costume class. The week after, we trail ride.


  1. How exciting!!! I can't watch the videos right now, but I'll be back to see them. I need to work on building more obstacles. :) Ashke is such a good boy.

    P.S. I'm glad the scary weather didn't get you. I hate tornadoes. :(

  2. Okay, what's WE?
    I'm on the iPad, which doesn't load your videos, so I'll watch later on the big klutzy computer.

    1. WE = Working Equitation.

      Working Equitation is a four part discipline which combines a dressage test, an obstacle course, the same course done at speed and then at the highest levels is team penning. It started in Spain and Portugal and some of the best horses in the discipline are Andalusians and Lusitanos. It's just beginning to get a toe hold here in the US.

      We have begun building a WE obstacle course at TMR, which is what you will see in the videos when you get to your big computer.

      If you want to see how the big boys do it, google working equitation speed test. It's pretty amazing.

  3. I really enjoyed your videos. I watched them twice last night while talking to you. Nice job over the hay bale! You even have your elbows tucked in! (Liz and I call ourselves the Elbow Sisters United because we tend to stick our elbows out over fences if we don't think about it. Granted, I'm much worse about this than Liz! She's a natural.) He has improved so much with his side passing over the pole! You should show the before videos from the winter alongside these so readers can see the improvement. :)

  4. And so awesome that he did all of this in the bitless bridle!

    1. Actually, he was being ridden in a bit. I just had the halter and the bridle on at the same time, because I want to be able to use it on the trail. He did great in the indoor arena in the bitless, but I'm still a little nervous about riding him outside without the bit.

      And he has gotten so much stronger moving laterally. I will try to do the comparison post today.

  5. I've been waiting to comment until I had time to watch the videos...

    OMG, Karen, Ashke is such a fucking ROCKSTAR. The work you have done with him and the time you have spent is so obvious in these videos. I can count on two hands the number of horses I know who can do all of those things at a minor level - Ashke has exceeded nearly all of them. You two are such an outstanding team. LOVE this post. LOVE those videos. So happy and excited for you and to see where this goes!! You're a great motivating point for me to want to get out there and work with my two on things like this. So, so awesome. You're such a stellar partner for him.