We are so close to having enough light at the end of my work day that we could ride across the street or along the canal instead of having to ride in the indoor arena. We have 25 more days until Daylight Savings Time begins again, at which point our riding in the indoor will only happen due to high wind or inclement weather. We can handle 25 more days.
I got Ashke groomed and tacked up pretty quickly while he munched on his alfalfa. I paid attention to his hooves, noting the things Saiph had mentioned, both on the blog and in her email (with picture diagrams) explaining and teaching, for which I am immensely grateful. I painted his hooves with Farrier's Fix, which works for thrush and for hardening and taking away the pain. Saiph was correct when she thought that perhaps the shedding frog was making Ashke's RF a little tender. He was completely sound with no hesitation at all on our ride tonight. I wrapped his legs with the BOT exercise boots and headed for the outdoor. There were two horses in the outdoor when we entered, but by the time I hand walked the perimeter a single time and mounted up, the other horses were leaving. Ashke got very agitated, which in turn irritated me, so I dismounted and we headed for the indoor.
When we walked in I turned on the indoor lights. They are halogen vapor lights and take a while to warm up, so we spent the first ten minutes walking in the growing light. Ashke was spooking at the green wall of death, which normally amuses me, but for some reason last night I was highly irritated. It ended up being a small fight, which didn't help either of us. I ended up making him stand still in the corner, with his butt to the fence, until he was motionless and breathing again. I just wanted him to stand without fidgeting or trying to walk off for one minute. It took us almost twenty minutes to achieve that goal.
He shifted. He tried to walk forward. He sidepassed. He turned his head and tried to bite my toes. He messed with the fence. He shied. He stretched forward and then walked off. He flipped his head. He pulled on the reins. He did everything except relax and stand still.
With a horse like Ashke, who is always willing to move forward, who has a lot of energy and enthusiasm, sometimes the hardest thing is to stand still. I have yet to ask him to stand when riding and have him drop his head and cock a leg in relaxation. We are more likely to shift and fidget and move and snort and blow and shake and rock.
We got one minute of relative calm and then I cued him to move forward. He sprang out in a six mile an hour walk, happy to be able to move again, almost jigging in his enthusiasm.
We worked on trotting and did some consistent canter in both directions, although I did get a tad bit tired of fighting him to slow down on the right lead. (I was grumpy. I have food to eat tonight before going to the barn. Low blood sugar can cause me to react this way.) It was warm in the arena and Ashke was wet from ears to flanks when we finished. I walked him until he was cool, then headed to the trailer to get the BOT fleece cooler to put him in when we got back to the stall.
The ground between the indoor and the trailer is covered with rock. Ashke negotiated them without even flinching. I was reminded of a year ago when we couldn't walk from the barn to the indoor at TMR without him reacting so badly he almost went to his knees. His feet are definitely better than they were, much stronger with much thicker sole. His colateral grooves are almost an inch deep. I was proud of my pony. We are moving from Princess to Prince, slowly but surely.
I unsaddled Ashke while he munched on his mash, then covered him with the BOT cooler, leaving the boots on his legs as well. I cleaned all of the shavings out of his stall in prep for adding an additional bag of shavings. Even with turning his stall twice a day, the odor of urine was getting strong, and removing all of the shavings is the only way to really offset that. Once the stall was clean, I pulled a 8 cu bag of pine shavings in, sliced the bag up the long end and then across the short side and dumped it in a compressed pile in the middle of the stall. I walked out to throw the bag away.
Ashke turned away from his food to inspect the pile of shavings, snorting softly. He walked on top of them and then, using his nose and his feet, he proceeded to scatter the shavings throughout the stall. He kept turning like a dog looking for a place to lay down, using his front feet to move the shavings, until he had them the way he wanted. He stood for a second and surveyed his kingdom, then went back to eating. Funniest thing I have watched in a long time. Just wish I had gotten it on video.
I pulled the cooler and then did some grooming. I hate leaving the salt from his sweat in his coat, but it is still too cold to wash him off and this barn doesn't have a heated wash rack, which we use even in the summer. I will groom him very well tonight and then walk for a longer time tonight at the end of our ride in an attempt to dry him off. I figure that he sweated so much because of the overall temps, not the work per say.
Tonight, my goal is to stay calm and be in harmony with Ashke instead of irritated and frustrated. We aren't working on anything but getting into rhythm at the canter. I think he was rushing last night because he could feel that I was frustrated and upset and he was reacting to that. Food is good and tonight it will be better.