The weather has finally broken, with temps in the low 40s today and no more snow in the forecast. I was at the barn before five and was greeted by Ashke's bellow as soon as I got out of the car. He's taken to going outside in his run at about five pm and waiting for my car to pull up. Tonight was the second time in two days that the first thing I heard when I opened my door was my horse hollering for me.
Makes me smile.
Ashke is beginning to shed and so I spent some time with the curry and brush, in between glaring at him for pawing with his front foot (which I know is a reaction to being tickled by the grooming). We spent five minutes or so with him standing stock still, one leg raised off the ground, staring at each other. I would glare until he would lower the foot, then I would go to brush his ribs and the foot would come back up. I have to figure out how to cue that so we can learn the Spanish Walk. He absolutely cracks me up.
Finally, we were groomed, picked, brushed (btw, his tail is still clean and white, something I could never maintain at TMR. His diarrhea has completely disappeared) and saddled. I stuffed some peppermints into my hoodie to reward him dropping his head for the bridle. I forgot they were there when we went into the indoor. There was another rider in there and after checking with her, I pulled two barrels out and set them up so we could work on our lead change. I dropped my peppermints onto the top of one of the barrels because they were threatening to bounce out of my hoodie. And because Ashke wouldn't move forward while he could hear them in my pocket.
We walked in both directions for ten minutes, until I could feel his back was relaxed and we were both loose. Then we trotted in both directions, starting to the right. We halted and backed from the trot and then moved out again. Tonight when he tipped an ear toward the corner of death, I just added my inside leg, holding him on course and other wise ignored what he was doing. Other than flicking an ear toward that corner the first couple of times we went past, he was fine.
Then we cantered. We started to the right and he was rushing and rough. By the time we had completed the four laps I asked for, I was panting, sweating and exhausted. That first set was a struggle to keep him from racing away from me and everytime I eased up he went faster. After four, we slowed to a walk and did a couple of circuits to keep him from getting sweaty, while I caught my breath. The next canter set less rough and less rushed, and I didn't have to hold on as much (bucking strap on the front of my saddle), plus I wasn't as exhausted by the time that set was done. We did three circuits of the arena and then walked again. By the time we did the final two he was in a relaxed canter that was a joy to ride. I can't wait until we can find and maintain that canter from the very beginning. I calculated that 11 laps around the indoor is a mile, so we almost cantered a mile to the right. At the end of our canter set I gave him a peppermint from the top of the barrel.
When we turned to the left, he lifted into a floating canter that was a joy to ride. He kept trying to stop before we got to our goal, so I started telling him out loud how many more circuits he had to go. That seemed to help. He did not cross canter to the left, which is always a bonus, but I could feel how much of a struggle it was to complete the second almost mile. At the end of nine laps (4, 3, 2) we walked for a bit and I gave him another peppermint.
Then we worked the barrel for a few minutes. He knew as soon as we turned toward them, what the obstacle was and was ready. By our third run through, we were on a three step trot in the middle before picking up the other lead. Then we were done. He got the last peppermint and then followed me around the arena while I put the barrels away. Silly pony.
I left him with green mash all the way to his eye brows standing in his stall in absolute bliss.