I am not a quitter. I have the perfect horse for me and although I know that we aren't going to do an endurance race (yes, head vet, he does have a twisted femur and he carries himself funny, but trust me we have this), or even be able to ride in the upper levels of WE (he has a hard time stepping up under himself with that right leg), we can do trail rides and WE for fun.
More importantly, neither is he. I recognized, after my five minutes of self-pity, that this horse has worked through so much that I have to allow him the time and opportunity, plus accu and chiro support, to make his way back from this injury too. He is not a quitter. I told myself that if he could overcome everything he has gone through to be this kind of a partner to me, I had to meet him half way.
Dr D asked me not to work him at all on Saturday or Sunday (standard request for chiro work) and then to work him in hand, gently, on Monday and Tuesday, to give the quad a chance to tighten up and hold his hip correctly. Monday is our WE night at the barn, and I had made plans to meet C there at 5 pm. I figured although Ashke is really good about working obstacles with me on him, this would give us an opportunity to work obstacles from the ground.
On Sunday, J and I created a gate for WE. It took one 2' x 8' lattice, four 2" x 3" pine boards, 10' of rope and two cans of red spray paint. In an hour we cobbled together this:
The other side
The rope, which is orange, because all the colors.
Set up in the indoor.
Total cost was right around $36, and took less than an hour to put together. They are light weight and easy to move. And red.
I had C help me set up a low jump (maybe 12") with three cavaletti ground poles in front. I think I have the spacing down now, so I can set them up for myself going forward. We also set up the corridor and the bell, a pole corridor with the cup for both sidepass and backing in a serpentine (which only Ashke and I attempted), and the jump. Once they were all out, C and I went back to get our horses. A new boarder, J and her horse Dante, stayed to play with the different stuff. Dante is an incredible Friesan gelding, 5 years old, and absolutely stunning. Her trainer is TJ!!!! So she is a little familiar with WE, but hasn't actually worked any of the obstacles.
Ashke was a little confused by not being saddled, especially when we walked into the indoor. He reached out and shoved me with his nose and then raised his head to study what was going on. I had brought my dressage whip, for tapping his haunch when asking him to step over, and I really didn't have to do more than gesture to get him to move.
He was a tad bit sticky at the gate. And snorty. It was red and orange afterall, but once we went through it a couple of times, he understood that the request from the ground was the same as how we did it under saddle. His biggest issue was stepping up next to the lattice work and standing still. The lattice was scary and he wasn't sure he was really all that interested being close enough to eat. Once I got him to stand parallel to the lattice work, without swinging his hip away. the rest was simple.
The corridor was a no issue. Ashke has gotten really good at backing in either direction and has figured out what he needs to do for the L. The only hang up is making sure his hind feet are positioned correctly to make the turn so he doesn't hit any poles. He also wanted to stop short of the pole when setting up to ring the bell. With a little persuasion, he was as good in hand as he was from the saddle.
We then demonstrated the pillars to C and J. C didn't even try to back through them. She was content enough to sidepass with the cup from one pillar to the other. Ashke did both well, even in hand. Dante did the sidepass, but let his mom know he wasn't sure why they were doing it. J was really good at stopping and praising the effort, then asking him for a little more.
The final obstacle was the low jump. Ashke and I went through it six or so times. The first time he was a mess, trying to jump the low jump from half way through the cavaletti. The second time he was better with his feet and only clipped the second pole. After that, he flowed through them like wind through the trees, snapping his feet up and not touching anything. He wasn't dragging his left toe, AT ALL. I couldn't believe it.
After about an hour of walking around the various things, and several times through the poles, I put him away in his stall. I felt so much better about moving forward with him. His leg has already straightened out some, and I just need to keep working him on the things that will help his stifle develop: lateral work, poles and hills. I have the ability to do all of those things.
I went back into the indoor and helped K with her horse Emma. She had joined us late. C came in and put stuff away as we worked through it. Emma didn't like the bell, which was being made worse by K's jerking in response to the bell, so K got off and we did some desensitizing to the sound of the bell. Then I coached K through the L corridor in hand, and then finally she rode through the obstacle in the saddle (sans the bell). She was so proud of herself for finally making it all the way through an L corridor. Next up, staying calm and in the saddle for the ringing of the bell.
We put stuff away and called it a night. Next Monday is the first official WE play night at SQA. I'm really excited about it.
Next on my list to build it a Livestock Pen (there is even a goat there I might be able to put in the middle pen. Bwahahahaha.