- Trailer: We got a trailer just after the last equinox and that was a life saver for this summer. It has been wonderful to hitch up and head out to explore trails in our area. I think I would have lost my mind if I had to endure the two trails (ok, three trails) we can reach from the barn without being able to ride out and explore the other trails in our region. Ashke has lost any hesitation he might have once had about loading on the trailer, and although he is much happier when another horse comes with us, he does great with just me and J.
- Trails: We have explored the Dowdy Draw Trail, Marshall Lake, Fairmont Trail, Leyden Creek, Ralston Creek, Chatfield Reservoir, Highland Canal and the East-West Regional Trail. I still have plans to ride the Dowdy Draw around Marshall Lake with J sometime this fall before winter sets in, provided Community Ditch is open. We also want to explore more of the East-West Regional Trail. We haven't done Barr Lake, or the trail that runs from Dowdy Draw to Boulder, or Cherry Creek Regional Trail. So many trails, so little time.
- Saddle: I can begin to express how happy I am that I have the Alta Escuela. It fits Ashke well. He has zero back pain. I am comfortable and balanced. I can ride for hours without knee or back pain. It is the best investment I have made.
- Cantering: At the end of March we were still struggling to find our canter. You would guess that after riding for over two years, a canter would be a slam dunk, but it has been a difficult road. Now, we have spent the summer cantering, galloping and all out racing under saddle, all over the county. I am stressing less about Ashke keeping his feet in rough terrain. He is so sure footed. I may always be more comfortable racing uphill (like up to the top of the mesa) because I know that gravity will eventually slow us down. However, we are now able to canter behind another rider without him losing his mind. This is something we will carry forward with us into winter.
- Working Equitation: I was part of the Nuno Matos clinic and participated in a show/clinic in Parker. I had plans to do a ton more, but that was derailed by the VSV debacle. I have plans to work on the two barrel, the three barrel and the two pole obstacles over the winter. The plan is to get the collected canter down and a change of leads, starting with simple and progressing to flying.
- J: I have loved riding with J. She understands my need/want/desire to see what is on the other side of the hill, or around the bend or just beyond that far horizon. It is a sickness that she appreciates. Where N feels like we've ridden long enough, or T hates exploring, J feels bad when it's time to turn around. She's done hills (where we just canter up) and heat and even has the foresight to hide a DP for me, for lunch, all without complaint. In fact, she likes the exploring so much that she's taking lessons to learn to ride. Perhaps, someday, she will be the willing partner to some calm trail horse and we will do our adventures astride.
- Miles: Ashke can do 10+ miles without any problem. I have finally got to the point where I can ride 10 to 12 miles without wanting to stick my fingers in my eyes afterward. My back has gotten stronger and stronger and although I still wear the BOT brace, I can see a point in my future where I won't have to. I do deal with a lot of body pain (especially this week) on a day by day basis, but I can see the pain getting less and less as I go on. Ashke is in great condition right now, with a taut belly, building muscle on his shoulders and back and I hope to keep his legs on him so that we can routinely ride 20+ miles come spring.
So, some goals and a lot of review. I am very lucky to have a horse that loves the type of riding I want to do. I can see the progress we've made and have some idea how to build on the foundation we have right now. I feel happy that Ashke is healthy and happy and loving his job. Makes me happy. Happy Equinox, gentle readers.