So much going on and not much of it is directly related to riding.
1) T had a Personal Record (PR) for the third race out of four last Friday. He finished first for the JV team and had an average mile time of 8:15. He has set a goal of a 7:40 average mile for his next and possibly final race. He will have to run a 5k close to 23 minutes (22:41 if he can maintain a 7:40 time) in order to make the Regional team. This is his only recourse at this point to letter on the season. He believes he can do it. We believe he can do it. So we just wait for the race on Saturday morning to see how he does. Either way, as of his last race, he lowered his average mile from 9:40 to 8:15 in the six weeks since X-Country has started. I believe he has finally found his competitive streak and is willing to push himself to get better.
2) J and I did a ride on Saturday. We opted to ride out from the barn instead of hauling out, since K was in Florida. Ashke was a basket case and spooked the entire ride and stuff that he normally walks past without looking at twice. It was impossible to keep him moving forward at a steady pace and I'm sure the start-stop-sideways lurching motion was great entertainment for anyone watching. We rode over to the canal and then to Ralston Creek, where I used the golf course bathrooms and then we rode back. I was incredibly frustrated by the pogo horse, his gloves - which I took off because he was walking toe first and very stiffly, his gait, how rough he was, how sucked back he was, how awful my lunch was, how grey and cloudy and cold it was, how my app didn't work and how stale those riding paths are for us. It also broke my heart to have him look over his shoulder in yearning toward TMR. We ended up finding our way back through the brush and over a boggy creek instead of the canal, because Ashke's feet weren't going to be happy on the rocky part of the canal. I'm almost ready to throw both hands up in the air and put shoes on him because I can't handle the worry and anxiety I feel when riding him. I was very cranky when we were done and incredibly sore. J thought that maybe he was sore too and not at all eager to ride trails we are all very familiar with. I think we were also missing K and Eddy.
3) I don't know if you noticed him almost falling when he was moving to his right in the round pen when he was playing with T. I thought maybe he has reinjured his right haunch, but I am really beginning to suspect that he will always be less nimble and weaker on that side. I have suspected for a while that perhaps what I am feeling is his way of going. That we have not had enough time to change his muscle memory on both of his hind legs. I can't tell if the right hind is weak from the injury to his hammie, or if this is his way of compensating for the injury to his left patella. Or both. Someday, perhaps, he will be equally strong and capable in both hind legs regardless of what we are doing. I just know that although he looks completely sound that he feels off (that just may be my muscle memory talking) or rough or something.
4) I have found a new barn and put in my notice at SQA. The new barn is north about 25 minutes and is a private facility. Ashke's run is twice the size of SQA, and lined with sand rather than clay. They feed great looking alfalfa and will feed his supplements, plus blanket as needed. The barn is surrounded by hay fields that we can ride the edges of and they have a great indoor. They also have chickens, rabbits, ducks, dogs, sheep and baby horses. He should be completely desensitized to all farm animals by the end of our stay there. It is $125 less a month and although it's not perfect (I'm still waiting for a barn that does real turnout), I think it will be a step up from his current living conditions. It also moves me 45 minutes closer to Circle Star Arena and the WE stuff, while moving us further away from the trails we enjoy riding (and further away from K and Eddy). K and I hope that at some point in the future, we can be at the same barn. I'm hoping that getting out of the wet, clinging mud and onto drier sandy ground, his feet will get tougher. I am willing to ride out the winter (don't use the boots much then any way) before making a decision. Hopefully, by next spring, his feet will be tough as rocks from riding all winter around the edges of the hay fields.
5) I have signed up for a Mounted Archery clinic the end of November. I can use my own bow and arrows (yeah!) and we spend the morning learning from the ground and then afternoon practicing from the back of the horse. I'm very excited and Daniel is beside himself. I'll let you know how it goes and J is already planning on lots of video proof of the event.
That's all for now. I have either one more week of X-Country with T or three. Once he is finished, I will be back to riding four or five days a week. I'm hoping it's three because I would love to see him make his goal of lettering again this year.