I don't know what I was expecting from Ashke. He hasn't been in consistent work since October and hasn't been asked to practice in an indoor since last winter, primarily since I didn't want to fight with him at SQA. It was the first time since August that he was ridden three days in a row. At the risk of being anthropomorphic, I think he's liked having the time off, since he pretty much picked a fight with me from the get go.
He was spooky. He was snorty. He spooked at things he's walked past with no problem. He didn't want to walk near the end of the ring with the jump standards. He spooked at dark patches of sand. He didn't want to stand near the mounting block. We even let him run a bit in the indoor before saddling him up but it didn't really help.
When I got on I could feel him short striding on his right hind. The time off has not helped us with that muscle. I kept him at a walk, in both directions, until it started to loosen up. He was reactive at the end of the arena with the jump standards and I used the Mark Rashid technique of ignoring what he was paying attention to and asked him to pay attention to me. Once his back was swinging at the walk, we moved to the trot. He kept spooking at the jump standards and acting like he thought he was going to be eaten. He was completely disregarding what I was asking and basically blowing me off. I was not going to let our ride deteriorate to the point of doing nothing but trying to get him to walk past the standards without spooking. I was doing everything I could to get him to work - leg yields from the centerline to the side, working on haunches out, some turns using just my legs. Nothing made a difference.
I finally had enough and got a little pissed off. He was not going to start pulling this shit again. He balked in fear (he wasn't scared - he was acting like a little kid who is trying to find a reason not to do something) and instead of stopping or turning or pausing, I just kicked the little shit forward. There was head tossing and trying to go above the bit and a couple of rear-threats, but I just kept kicking. Hard enough that he grunted a time or two. But finally, he moved forward and began paying attention to me.
After that, the ride got better. Although you can see in one of the videos where he braces and throws his head up when I ask him for a leg yield. It's not that he's weak or unable to do what I'm asking. And he knows what I am asking probably 90% of the time. He just didn't want to on Monday night.
I have to find a good balance between having him on the bit at the canter and not being on his forehand, without his head being straight up in the air. This is what we are working on right now.
He got plenty of breaks in between being asked to work.
We also did a lot of trotting, which is our go to gait on the trail when he is being energetic. I figure the longer he can trot the better our chances of completing an endurance ride is. Not that I think we will ever get there really, but a girl has to dream.
We ended the evening by cantering without asking for anything other than him going forward. He did okay to the left but I really needed to at least ask him to tip his nose down when traveling to the right.
It's the first time I've ever heard in snort in rhythm with his canter, although he does look hollow to the right. It will be a struggle to get him back into shape where that right hamstring is concerned.