I rode Ashke for the third time tonight and it was OMG!!!
We did circles in the round pen in both directions at the walk and the trot. Ashke seemed to become more comfortable with each stride and didn't try on any level to buck or run out from under me. I could feel him relax and pick up his feet and lengthen his stride. J said she could see him lengthen under me. I rode most of the walk arounds with a loose rein. Ashke has already recognized that he should stay next to the rail when we are moving around the round pen.
Asking him for the trot was a little more difficult. It took a lot of encouragement to get him to trot and then he stopped every time he reached the part of the ring where T was. I finally got him to continue at the trot for a couple of rounds and then we went back to the trot. I need to length my stirrups and let my legs come down, since it is hard to cue him when I feel like a jockey (alright, not that bad). I had shortened the stirrups to help keep me in the saddle in case he decided to get jumpy. I think we are past that and I really need to be able to cue him correctly to get him to move into the bit and relax.
He stopped with the slightest touch on the bit, taking his cues from my verbal command. Ashke turned easily to the right but struggled turning to the left. I think it will help when I can apply some leg and get him to bend around it. Next up, longer stirrups.
After I had finished my loop de loops I went to dismount, hung a toe in the stirrup (another reason to lengthen them) and fell on my ass right in front of Ashke. Ashke? He put his head down and sniffed me. He never moved. I, being a woman who has had a child, had the inevitable result that a lot of women who have had a child would have had falling on their ass in the dirt. (If you don't know what I am talking about, then I'm not going to tell you.) It was embarrassing to say the least, but Ashke didn't even flinch. He just touched my helmet with his nose and snorted at me. He didn't even move when I rolled over and climbed to my feet. He amazes me.
T was ready to ride. When we positioned the mounting block for T to use to get on him, it was up under Ashke's belly. He got on without any issues, but then when I moved Ashke forward I wasn't paying attention and he tangled his feet on the block. Ashke tried to run away from the block and gave T a pretty good shot of adrenaline. I kept him moving in a circle until I could get him calmed down. The second time Ashke jumped was because T tightened his feet into Ashke's belly. Ashke was willing to go faster, but I wasn't willing to, so T found a different way to hold on.
I wish I could explain how happy I am and how willing Ashke is to learn anything I ask of him. We had a great night. When I was grooming him I explained to him that being in a relationship with his rider was what the Arabian was bred for. I explained that he came from a long line of horses bred for just this reason and he needed to step up and show he could do it. I told him he was carrying the lineage of a thousand years of breeding and I knew he wanted to be a horse with his rider. He seemed to understand every thing I said.