On Sunday, J and I rode at Chatfield Res. I'll post some comparison photos of our last ride there, vs our ride on Sunday, just to highlight the difference fifteen feet of extra water can make, but for this post I want to talk about our ride last night.
I knew going to the barn that I would have to be aware of how I was responding to Ashke. I was still feeling a little sunsick from the day before and was dealing with an immense amount of pain from the raw skin on the bottom side of my breasts and upper stomach from the lace in my bras. Try buying bras that fit my size chest without any fancy stitching or lace. It doesn't happen. Usually it's a minor irritant, but when it's hot and I'm sitting at my desk the burn/itch/pain becomes real. Combine those physical issues with no food and I was setting myself up to fail. I committed to myself that I would deal with my choices and not pick a fight with Ashke.
We got groomed and then C and I set up poles and two barrels in the outdoor arena to practice with while we rode. I just could not handle being in the indoor again, and neither could Ashke. After the obstacles were set, we got the horses groomed and saddled and made our way out. We walked a couple of circuits and then trotted a couple. Then we moved to the canter.
He felt stiff or maybe a little sore. It wasn't smooth or easy and he felt like he was going to stop at the drop of a hat. Every time I asked for a downward transaction, he fell down into a stumbling halt. There was no go in my pony. I started to feel angry and frustrated.
And then I stopped. I thought about why I ride and what I wanted to accomplish. I thought about how much I really needed him to be on point today, and the voice in my head said "why does this matter?" And just like that it didn't. I decided that instead of continuing on our path recently traveled, that we would work on other stuff. I decided to do rollbacks along the fence.
He loves rollbacks. We did six or so, and although our stops weren't sliding (I swear it is only comfortable to do sliding stops in a western saddle - I can't get my feet into position to brace my body and get thrown up on his neck - not pretty) he knew exactly what we were doing and was spinning rather quickly to go the other way. I was laughing out loud so hard I couldn't breathe so we took a break. And then I asked him to go again.
We reached the far end, he stopped, spun and bolted, head high and grabbing at the bit with a couple of bucks thrown in for fun.
I wrestled him down while the western trainer told me I needed to get his head down. I just laughed, then asked him to do it again at a moderate rate of speed with his head flexed at the poll. He did. At that point he was running, stopping and spinning without me using the reins at all. He had a bunch more go at that point though.
We then worked the barrels and the poles. He did the poles very nicely the first time with simple changes in between. But he was too tired to attempt them a second time, so we stopped. C was done riding at that point, so we carried the poles and barrels over to the fence from the back of our horse (Ashke had no issue with me picking up and carrying a 50 gallon plastic barrel from his back.)
He and Bretia rolled and nibbled on grass while we tossed the other stuff over the fence and arranged. Then we carried the saddles into the barn and finally I took Ashke out to wash off the sweat and dirt. Then tucked him into his stall with his mash. He gets the week off and we will try again next Monday.