Tonight, there was a huge storm that moved through right before we got to the barn, but despite that Ashke was fairly calm and focused. He stood to be groomed and seemed to enjoy the sensation, leaning into the brushes and moving toward the curry comb instead of away. Saddling was easy and he didn't even flinch much when the saddle cinch was tightened. I am careful to go slow and easy when tightening the girth. There is never a reason to just yank on the thing. He lifts all four feet without any pressure from me. I just run my hand down his leg and ask and he lifts his foot. Despite our attempts to keep him clean, he does insist on laying down in his stall. He is a grey, and now that his hair is growing in healthy, you can see the pattern of white skin under the hair. Grey is a misnomer, however, since what he is is white with flecks of bay. His entire spine is speckled with bay hair. I shall endeavor to provide pictures of those spots at some point in the future.
All in all, in the grooming area, I would say he was a C- when he first arrived and he is now a solid A.
His interaction with us - meaning myself, J and T - was a solid B when he arrived. I would say it has progressed to an A. The biting as started to tailor off and when he tries I just give him a look. (It is a look any mother would recognize). It seems to do the trick better than swatting at him which, if one judges by his pattern of flinches, is what he is expecting. Tonight when I first got to the stall he stuck his nose out at me and I gave him a kiss. He wiggled his nose around (think end of an elephant trunk and how flexible that is) and turned my sweet innocent kiss into something slobbery and wet. His nose is so soft. Horse slobber, however, is not recommended.
We walked out to the round pen. With the exception of the bathing area earlier this week, Ashke has been wonderful on lead. I would have given him a D- when he first got here. Not that he ran up on top of his leader, or tried to shoulder you out of the way, it was more that he didn't realize he wasn't the one in charge and that balking or just plain stopping wasn't acceptable. With consistent effort and by gently using the come-along, Ashke figured out the leading thing pretty quick. This boy is smart. Now, I would say he deserves a solid A.
I rode. I hate watching myself on video, since how I see myself in my head (especially with the horse) is what I looked like in my 20's. That was a long time ago. And a child ago. And menopause ago. Lots of miles and damage to my body. So, forgive me. I feel a lot better up than I look.
That said, here is the first of the videos.
He had a bit of a hump in his back for the first couple of times around the arena. And he so did not want to trot. He kept pinning his ears and swishing his tail and kicking up with his hind end, as you can see in this video.
I don't think it helped that there was lightning in the distance, it was almost dark and T was first kicking a soccer ball around and then chasing a bunny. I did get Ashke to finally settle into a trot, which is a good pace for building muscle and beginning to develop his wind. We rode at the walk and trot (which we really had to work at) for about 30 minutes, which was enough to warm the guy up and get his breathing a bit heavy. Just a little at a time.
What an amazing difference a few weeks can make!