Last night was a riding night. My process with Ashke right now is two arena rides (one of which is a lesson) and one long trail ride a week. Last Saturday we did 12 miles over varied terrain. Next Saturday, we are doing maybe 15 miles from Indian Creek to Chatfield. Some of that ride is going to be singletrack mountain terrain, so it should be very challenging. Anyway, I would like to add another day, but just can't seem to find the time. Fridays have become date night with J and we are once again exploring restaurants and outdoor arenas around town. I might be able to squeeze in a ride on Sunday morning this next week - we will have to see.
So, I got to the barn about seven and sent J off to winterize the camper while I got Ashke ready to go. For my birthday, I got a new BOT dressage pad and a pair of Tekna open front hind boots. They are the perfect size to cover the tenderness on his LH fetlock, without being overly burdensome. He went good in them yesterday once he got past having it on his right hind. Once I had the saddle on him, I put out five cones in the pattern for the double slalom. Three on one side and two offset. I figured we could also work the single slalom on the three cone side.
The wind was blowing so hard that the whole barn was shaking. Ashke was pretty uptight, so we started with walk pirouettes. He is doing these pretty good, as far as I can tell. We will see what Amanda says on Weds, but he has this particular movement figured out and now we just need to practice it a couple of times each ride. We moved to walk-trot transitions and then leg yields from the quarterline to the wall. Ashke was pretty spooky, jumping a couple of times when the sand and gravel was blown against the wall (the howling of the wind sounded like sick cows who had swallowed kittens) but I just ignored the spooks and went on with the ride.
After he felt pretty warm, we did the single slalom at the trot. Ashke did it really well with definite changes of bend. It was probably the best trot slalom we have ever ridden. I was so impressed. Then we began to canter. I have to tell you that his canter is becoming so smooth and slow and easy. He only really rushes when he begins to tire. We did some figure eights with a simple change in the middle through the cones I had set up. I had to intersperse some trot work to help him remain calm, since he still gets somewhat hyped about being asked to canter. I really need to work on cues and getting my seat right, since I am the one struggling with this.
Then we cantered the single slalom with simple changes at each junction. He was phenominal!!!! I really wish I had it on camera since it was the best I have ever felt him move. We did the three cones, a half circle and the last two cones, then another half circle from the final cone to the wall so we ended up going the opposite direction in the arena when we were done. It was so much fun. The first time he did the grid with a one step change at each junction, I made a huge deal out of him. He snorted and pranced in happiness.
Then we worked on the double slalom. I think it was too much. I was waiting for J to return from working on the camper and wasn't paying attention. Ashke was struggling to maintain bend or manage his transitions and I was pushing too much. At one point he stopped and looked at the tie post like he was ready to be done. I told him we still had some work to do and he gave a sigh and walked off slowly. He wasn't as forward as he had been so I jumped off to get the dressage whip (just holding it gives him energy) but then when I went to get back on I looked at the clock and realized I had been riding for an hour. I rubbed his face and walked him over to the tie post. He just gave a small sigh in relief. We were having such a great ride that I didn't realize how long it had been. I know we should have ended on a "good note", but honestly, I think listening to him tell me he was starting to struggle was a good note on my part. I want this to be fun and exciting and challenging without exhausting him to the point of hating our rides.