We left the barn at about 9 am and arrived at Circle Star shortly there after. Ashke and Eddy were set up at the trailer with feed while I put the final touches on the switch a cup obstacle. Then I got Ashke set up in his costume. Originally, I wanted to wear my Darth Vader outfit with T's double bladed light saber, but I ran out of time and wasn't completely convinced that I could get the black paint on Ashke correctly due to lack of artistic ability. My intention was to paint him as a clone trooper. Ah well, maybe next year. Instead, I pulled out my native arab costume and got him fancied up. I found it really amusing when I was asked what he was going as and I answered "Arabian" prior to getting his costume on. Maybe some day I will enter him in a Native Costume class.
There were a lot of cute, but obviously terrifying, things for Ashke to worry about that day.
The little 13.2 hh horse with tulle. And ribbons.
Wery, wery scary.
Ashke and I.
Original conehead due to the Go Pro mount on the top of my helmet.
Eddy Van Halen.
I swear to you, this was the most terrifying costume of the day.
Ashke would blow, sniff, snort and shy every time Eddy came near.
Sabio did not look pleased with his flowers.
Bisquick, dressed as Tigger and Pooh, was even more scared than Ashke was.
Kitty the witch on Joe.
The second most terrifying costume of the day and the one that would have won my vote for best costume.
She had scales on her horse's hips and was followed by a helium shark ballon.
Ashke would not settle. Would not hold still.
Absolute basket case.
It is hard to want to be close to but far away from your trail buddy.
Purple People Eater.
For the first half hour we were up more than we were forward.
Lateral walk, anyone?
So very worried.
Deep sea diver and shark.
All of the Arabs were tense.
Kanga and Roo.
Purple People Eater
Nothing like spooking at all the things
Keith as the Lone Ranger (who had a red necktie. Who knew. I always watched it in black and white.)
If there was one picture that summed up Ashke on Saturday, this is it.
And a mule, who Ashke really wanted to smell, but who kept pinning her ears and moving away.
I think I need to plan a longer warm up with specific tasks for us to accomplish, because even after riding for half an hour, Ashke was not focused on me, or on the task at hand. He was spooky and all over the place. Plus, we got a great fail pic.
He is so good at the gate. I barely have to touch him to get him to do what he's supposed to.
We cantered in between the obstacles. He picked up the correct leads and only did his quick change of lead after the figure 8, where it almost felt like a buck. He just wasn't focused on what we were doing and was still gawking at all of the other horses.
Going over the bridge.
Can you see the tension?
Coming off the bridge, where he hit himself on the bit, trying to bolt to the left, rather than exit the obstacle properly.
A little bit of video of our walk pirouette attempt.
Coming into the figure 8 on the proper lead.
He made his first turn very nicely.
Finishing the Figure 8, complete with dolphin flail and change of lead from left to right to left in two steps when he caught sight of the horses in front of him.
He backed out of the switch a cup nicely.
Completing the course with the proper amount of spook at the exit posts.
Immediately following our ride through the obstacles, I stripped off my part of the costume, took Ashke into the dressage arena and did trot-walk-trot serpentines until he finally started to pay some attention to me and move forward rather than laterally. Then we did canter-walk-canter serpentines until he was somewhat compliant. And sweaty. But at least not throwing his head in the air.
I got a "he's fighting that bit" while we were doing the obstacle course. My reply was that he was fighting me, not the bit, because he wanted to be a gawking giraffe the entire time. I know I was taking the opportunity to ride in front of the group too seriously, but fuck man, we've been working our asses off and instead of showcasing what we've learned and what he can do, we went right back to where we always are when we are at a show. Head in the air. Unable to focus. Kind of being a jerk.
This is not the picture of a compliant horse.
This is a picture of a horse that is completely focused on where in the hell Eddy is.
The group. Complete with a mini, because we needed to compound all of the terrifying things by adding a mini.
Overall, it was a great day. There was lots of laughter and companionship. The costumes were awesome and everyone did great on the obstacle course. Everyone seemed to enjoy the day and the food was pretty good. We wrapped up about 2:30 and headed home.
Ashke and I have plenty to work on and I need to think about taking him places to ride seriously (as compared to taking him places to trail ride) that challenge him to pay attention to me. We need to get past the "OMG! Everything is going to eat me. I must pay attention to everything else" rather than settling down and getting to work. I have five months to get him to realize that there are times when he can look around and be relaxed with me (like on trail), but there are also times when we just need to buckle down and walk/trot/canter on command and with control.