The second thing we did was buy him a play ball and hang it in his new stall. He loves to bite and chew on stuff and this bright red ball should help keep him entertained when no one is about. He was trying to bite it and pull it out of T's hands while I was grooming him, so we figure he will enjoy having it to fight off boredom. We also wired up his salt block so he can lick it instead of chewing it in his bin. Grace recommended we buy a large block and just set it in the corner for him. The large blocks are so much cheaper that we will definitely be getting one of those next time we buy one.
Ashke no longer needs to be prompted to walk into the grooming area. He stands pretty comfortably while I groom him. He still has some long hair on his belly and flank area. I have no idea how long it will be before he sheds that out. He still has small patches of longer hair in spots all over his body. His ears are fuzzy. He has long hair in the center of his face. His neck, however, looks awesome. And he is getting meat along his backbone. I can see scars from wire fences on the inside of his right stifle. I can't tell if the dark patches mixed in with the white are scars or bay hair. It will be good to get him shed out and really clean.
After grooming him, I put the saddle and bridle on him and led him to the round pen.
And then we did this:
Ashke did pretty good. He walked around the round pen several trips in both directions without throwing a hissy fit. He did get a couple of good bucks in, both of which I weathered without much issue. Although, the last time he fussed I did lose my stirrups, but that was primarily due to tightening my knees up under the "oh shit" bars (fenders) on my saddle. One of the better reasons for riding in an Aussie saddle, in my opinion. He responded well to the bit and handled my requests to walk forward without a whole lot of protest. I felt pretty good in the saddle.
Today we focused on walking without bucking (much) and listening to my requests to move forward and to stop. Tomorrow we will work on those items again, and on softening to the bit, so he's not fighting against me so much. Walking him in circles around the round pen while riding him was infinitely better than walking around the round pen leading him. I can see the exercise level going up, which is good, since I want to turn his calories into muscle, not just let it be fat.
After I had ridden him enough that Ashke was no longer throwing his haunches into the great beyond, I got off and this happened.
T wanted to know after we had walked around the arena for several trips when he was going to be able to ride him by himself. I had no good response to that.