We've tried three times since Ashke reinjured his leg to have a lesson. Ashke was way to sore on his front feet to ride, so we postponed, again. After the ride on Saturday and Monday, I knew Ashke was good to go and texted Amanda to set up a lesson on Wednesday night. I got to the barn about seven, got him cleaned up and saddled, then took him outside to warm up, since Amanda had a jump lesson in the arena until 7:30 pm.
To say Ashke was feeling better is an understatement. He was jumpy, not in a "I'm terrified" way, but rather in the "I have so much pent up energy I am go to test all of my boundries" way. I was doing okay, until he spooked at a divot of sand, tried to bolt and then started bouncing his front feet off the ground. I decided that valor is overrated and took him back inside before we started doing airs above the ground.
As we walked into the arena, Amanda looked up and laughed, then said "So we are working on Piaffe and Passage today, are we?" I laughed. He was very bouncy. Amanda finished her lesson and watched me canter Ashke in both directions. He is traveling so very nicely now. There was no hint of cross canter or struggle to hold himself properly during the canter. To the right he did go very low but for the most part it was very nice.
Amanda had us start with our trot serpentines, then move to trot serpentines with a walk transition with each change of bend. He was bending much better by the end of that exercise. We moved into spiral circles, two in and out, going from a 30m to a 10m with Ashke being pushed out with almost a leg yield sort of feeling. We only did two in each direction, because hard and both of us are out of shape. I was very pleased with how hard he tried.
I have to say here that there are a lot of little issues we've been dealing with that have suddenly evaporated: he did not try to cross canter, he was on the bit and not throwing his head up in the air, the slightest touch of my leg kept his hip under him, he did not break gait until I asked. My feeling is that so many of the things I was seeing as physically unable to perform due to his hind end were actually being caused by his feet. Either from him being hesitant to weight his legs or from his hooves slipping. I don't know how else to explain it, but I had a very responsive, eager, energetic, down right bouncy horse last night.
After the canter spirals, we started with haunches in. Hard. Shoulder in. Hard. Leg yield to a shoulder in before straightening along the rail. Amanda was trying to show him how to not reach up and hit his front feet (he's been in the BOT bell boots since we put shoes on him). Then we did the leg yield from centerline to quarterline, shoulder in at the quarterline, and then more leg yield to the rail. VERY FREAKING HARD. OMG!! It was really cool at the end though, when both Ashke and I could feel him shift his hind end from one point to another. And for me to begin to understand the leg aids for a flying change.
Then we did trot work. We started with as slow a trot as we could handle, then extended along the rail, coming back to a slow, collected trot around the ends. For the first time, I could feel Ashke really extend at the trot (which he does on trail when I won't let him canter) and then come back to a very soft, slow jog. Amanda had us do walk-trot-walk transitions so Ashke didn't blow off my seat aids next time I ride. She said it was very important to reestablish those transitions after doing the extended trot.
It was a great hour. I feel like Ashke and I enjoy trying hard stuff and he is so pleased with himself when we accomplish it. I probably won't get to ride again until Monday, since we are getting the camper on Friday, testing it with the horse trailer Friday night, taking Ashke to see Dr D on Saturday morning, then going camping Saturday night. Ashke has to be off for 48 hours (through Sunday evening) so Monday will be our next ride.