Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Tale of Two Rides

So, you saw the video proof of our first serious ride back into work. On Weds night, J once again accompanied me to the barn and took more video. When we got there the barn was dark and when we flicked on the light, I could see Ashke blinking himself awake (he had his head over the wall staring at the arena). When he saw me he whinnied, bellowing really. He seemed happy to see us both and was polite in the stall. J and I turned him loose in his turnout sheet while we pulled out obstacles. He was moving better than he had been on Monday, for which I credit the BOT sheet.

The arena was a different story. He was spooky and playful, so I decided that letting him lunge, even at the end of the lead rope, was better than trying to work him while he was all wired up. He let me catch him after we had the obstacles set, but had zero interest in standing at the tie rail, so I took him out to work around the two barrels we had set up. She started off at a trot and then suddenly accelerated to mach 10, ripped the lead rope out of my hand, which then thumped heavily against the sheet, which caused more maching to happen. I just let him go. He needs to get used to dragging a rope and I figured it wasn't going to hurt him. He figured it out pretty quick and stopped running before he ran into anything. I made him move around with the rope hanging to his side and finally he was ready to stand quietly to be saddled.

Our first ten steps were wicked stiff. J asked if he was okay because he looked lame to her. After those ten steps, he dropped his head and settled into a really nice walk.

I didn't have to fight him and was barely touching his mouth.
I really enjoyed how he was moving for me.

He was still pretty energetic, but listened and tried for me really hard.

It was a much smoother ride than Monday night.

One of the things I need to start doing at the canter, which I was working on last night, is not grabbing on with my thighs. It's easier when I don't feel like he's going to spook or try to bolt on me, and I managed to let go and just ride the canter a couple of times last night. I recognized that when his energy feels tense, I gather tension in my hips. Letting that go felt very comfortable and he felt more relaxed.

Ashke hasn't been worked on obstacles since the show in September. He hasn't been worked in an arena. All of our dressage training has occurred on trail. 

He was stiff in the barrels and we can't make symmetrical shapes to save our lives.
Geometry is not our forte.

He wants to dive in and make the circle to the left as tight as possible.

Things we are working on now is cantering between obstacles and cantering the obstacles that we have the ability to canter. Things we need to work on is a better and more prompt canter depart. 

We are also working on our square halt.

Preferably without dancing. We are a work in progress.

You should watch those last two videos closely. Ashke does this thing with his mouth which I am convinced is his version of sticking out his tongue.

The bell has a tassle that hangs down that kept tickling his ears.

You can see him wiggling his tongue.
I would love for him to do this with his head lowered and relaxed.
However, it may be a long time coming, since this is a very difficult exercise for him to do.
Even now his right hind collapses under him a bit.

Changing it up to keep him interested.

The sweetest thing happened. We were taking a brief walk break and J was crouching down against the wall, stretching out her back. He walked over to her and basically put his head in her lap and just stood there checking that she was okay. He was very gentle and did not demand attention via a head butt.

You can see how Ashke reacts when he thinks the question is too hard.

I told him if he would really try on this set we would be done.

Overall, the ride was awesome and I really enjoyed being able to play on the obstacles again. I think he feels better and is responding better than he did six months ago. There are things to work on, but I think that is the case when one is striving to achieve a goal. And my goal is to improve our performance at the shows this year.


  1. What a super-looking ride! Love that c/w transition in the second to last video. So relaxed and tidy!

    On your canter, when his head goes up and he gets resistant, try relaxing your elbows more and letting your hands move back and forth and following his motion. He seems like he tenses when he doesn't get the space he wants, so that might help.

    With the circle left where he falls in, does it get better if you relax your right thigh but support with the left? You mentioned about relaxing your thighs in the canter - is it possible that your right is stronger than your left and you might inadvertently be pushing his shoulders to the left a bit? I know that happens with me - I'm really lopsided that way.

    Also looooove that arena you have! It looks so nice! I'm jealous! :)

    1. I am so right dominant I can't even wipe my butt with my left hand. It's ridiculous. I'm sure I'm pushing him in with my right thigh. I will be more aware next time I ride.

  2. What a beautiful workout you two have improved so much. So proud of both of you!