Ashke was a chestnut horse on the right side when I got to the barn tonight. I thought about bathing him, but it seems counter productive. Instead, I gave him a good grooming.
We went to the indoor and had it all to ourselves. I set up two cones (need to move some of the stuff in from the WE arena so I can set it up and use it in the indoor when we are there) and then got ready to ride. We did a couple of circles at the walk in each direction and then picked up the trot.
I was riding with one hand. I need to be able to do so while riding the obstacles and it's flat out easier on the trail. I'm asking Ashke to keep his nose tipped slightly down (no giraffe) but we are still struggling to find the right amount of contact. I have such a sensitive horse and sometimes he protests. We are in the process of figuring this out.
I stopped riding in a bridle with a cavesson, because I want him to be comfortable with the bit and my requests without having to hold his mouth closed around the bit. When I was riding late winter, I would come home and my arms and shoulders would hurt from trying to force him to maintain the frame. It was an awful way to ride. Since then, I have been trying to find a way to keep his head in the game without fighting about the bit.
Tonight we had a couple of sudden jams with his head thrown straight up in the air. The second time, I kept kicking him forward, trying to break him out of his jam. He figured it out and stepped forward while lowering his head. I was pissed that he was being a jerk. For five minutes or so, I over applied my leg aids and moved him back and forth across the arena in a series of leg yields. I made him move his hip, then bent him into a ten meter circle and maintain a trot. Then we did trot-halt-trot transitions.
I know what made him protest at the very beginning. We were working on trot-canter-trot transitions and he was getting pissed. I was doing it with one hand and had too much contact for the canter. He was getting tired and a little sore. He braced and protested. I got pissed and kicked him a lot.
I finally got a series that was good and we stopped. I did some stretches and told him what a good boy he was and we sat there until he was relaxed again. Then we did circles around the two cones, first at the walk, then the trot and finally at the canter with a trot sequence of three strides for lead change. Ashke picked it up right away and changed leads with just a verbal cue. We did that for two sets with some walking and stretching in between and then called it a night.
I must say he does better with less contact. His neck reining is coming along and although he still needs to work on a bit of bend to the right, he is much happier if the reins aren't tight. Especially at the canter. He did the circles around the cones perfectly. He anticipated the trot-canter lead changes and although he pinned his ears every time I requested it, he picked it right up.
Like any domestic fight, we made up at the end. Next time I will ride with less contact at the canter (only using more contact to remind him not to stick his nose straight up in the air) and maybe we can set up more than two cones. I would love to work him through the slalom. He loves the different patterns that he can learn. He's too smart.