I am slowly recovering from this plague. Hopefully, by next week, I will be feeling better. I had a lesson last night with Amanda and it was not as positive as I wanted it to be.
I know that my emotional relationship with Ashke is unique. He and I are very connected and I have no doubt that we are co-beings. I rely on his steady try and work to be a better rider for him. Additionally, as I've expressed here in the past, I am conflict reluctant. I hate fighting. I try and achieve harmony in all of my relationships and work hard to keep the conflict at a minimum, which is why it's so distressing when the other half of said relationship deliberately creates conflict.
Last night when I first got on Ashke he was a bundle of nerves. I was expecting it, since the weather is cray-cray right now. We've had a sixty degree swing in temps over night in the past week and a storm had blown through about an hour before I got to the barn. I'm not sure Ashke got turn out and he was higher than a kite when we started. About fifteen minutes into riding in circles at the walk, I dismounted, got the lunge line and put him on a circle. He cantered and cantered. No cross canter, no fuss after the first five minutes of head tossing and extended trot. Just a nice, soft canter in both directions. His right hind looked fine and he seemed very comfortable.
I got on and we started work. We did leg yields at the walk, then at the trot (quarterline to rail), shoulder in, haunches in, and serpentines. The serpentine work was trot-walk-trot off my seat and then we moved to trot-canter-trot-walk variations, again from my seat. Ashke was soft and accepting, with easy and light transitions. Then Amanda asked for the canter leg yields to help shape his canter. To the right was easy and he felt great. This is an exercise we do pretty much every ride. It is not a difficult question. And he knows the answer to it.
However, when we turned to the left the wheels fell off.
In retrospect, I don't think this was based on his right hind, because he wasn't favoring it earlier. I don't think it really had to do with the "angry" corner, although that did seem to be his excuse. I think he didn't want to do canter work any more. He bounced me from one lead to the other, then threw his head straight up and braced to a halt.
I took him to the scary corner and we did sidepassing with his butt to the pile, back and forth several times, with me pony club kicking him. Then we started working the edges of the arena with walk-trot transitions. Amanda told me to make him canter regardless of his behavior, until he realized he couldn't stop because of the corner. It was a bit wild and out of control, but I forced him to keep moving forward, despite the cross canter (which he fixed on his own without dropping to a trot) and finally we got a full circle without hims trying his avoidance dance. We went back to the serpentine, because by that time he was upset and angry himself.
It became a brawl in the front. Amanda talked me through anchoring my hands (he had plenty of rein) at the edge of my saddle and doing trot-canter transitions off my seat again. That way, if he threw his head up, he was popping himself in the mouth. (Use my hands as side reins). He did it once, and then finally acquiesced, giving me three really nice transitions from my seat.
It only took fifteen minutes, but I had my horse back.
We finished the lesson by riding through the test twice, stopping to school the transition across the diagonal, until he stopped trying to make the change without waiting for my cue. The last try was a decent test and it ended on a good note.
Afterward, Amanda reassured me that sometimes bad rides happen and you just have to work through them. He was obviously in a mood when I first got on and sometimes he has opinions. He had what amounted to a toddler tantrum, and I am at a point now where I am no longer willing to make excuses. He can have opinions, but at the same time, he has to be obedient and try. It would have been different if it felt like he just couldn't do it, but both myself and Amanda evaluated his gait and that just wasn't the case. He just didn't want to.
I know it's been a month since our last trail ride and I'm thinking he needs a break from the arena work. We will try to fit in a trail ride on Saturday before we head to Expo next week. It will be good for his mental health to get out and explore for a couple of hours.