Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Our Routine

Every evening now, I come home from work, walk the dogs, fix dinner and then we troop out to the barn.

When we get there the first thing we do is move Ashke to the grooming stall which is right across the aisle from his stall. A grooming stall has five foot walls on three sides with the front open. There are crossties at the front of the stall that attach to the sides of the halter. When he is tied this way, he can't move forward or back more than a couple of steps and it positions his head directly in the middle of the front of the stall. He can move his hindquarters from side to side, but it does really limit his movements. The floor of the grooming stall is concrete so it catches all of the hair that comes off of him, allowing us to dispose of it properly. That seems to have become J's self-appointed job. The barn stipulates that if Ashke makes a mess (poo, hair, etc.) outside of his stall we are responsible for cleaning it up. They are responsible for "shaking down" the stall every day (removing soiled bedding and horse apples) and rebedding it with fresh sawdust materials. Ashke must like it because he lays down to sleep every day. We know this because he keeps laying in his poo. (His beautiful white coat is no longer.)

Last night, all three of us helped with the grooming process. J used the soft rubber scratcher on the sides of his face, T brushed him with one of the grooming brushes and I went over him with the shedding blade, the rubber curry comb, the stiff brush and the soft brush. Ashke is still very tender over his back (not all of the dirt and back hair are off his spine) and his barrel is ticklish. We know this because he paws the floor with his right front foot whenever we hit a spot. He is completely comfortable with having his belly groomed and that was actually a ticklish spot last night. On both sides. He has hair falling off him in clumps. I will be very happy when he has completely shed the horrible hair he was covered in (in an attempt to keep himself warm he had grown very long hair all over his body - going forward it won't need to be so think or so long.) I was able to clean all four feet with no issues. Ashke even leaned into the brush when we were doing his neck and haunches. And he is coming to expect lots of horse treats during this process.

After we were done grooming, I put the come-along on him and walked him out to the arena. I'm going to continue to use it until there is no sign of balking and he walks when asked without having to resort to using it. Hopefully, we won't need it in a couple of days. I think I only used it four or five times last night. He is very smart and it shouldn't take him long to figure it out. When we got to the arena we turned him loose and he and I and T ran up and down the arena playing. I must say, Ashke is very careful not to get too close to either T or myself when we are playing, and although he throws his feet and head around, he makes sure he's never too close. Any time either of us stop, he also stops. We aren't in danger and everyone has a lot of fun. He ran until he was hot and beginning to sweat. When he gets tired he lets us both know and then I bring hiim in. Last night he ran much longer and at a faster pace than he has in the last week. I know he is getting stronger.

Here is a short video clip of us playing in the arena. Hopefully I will be able to get some video in the bright sunlight soon.

After playing in the arena, we walked Ashke over to the grass and let him graze. I have great hopes for endurance for him, because he loves looking at and exploring new areas and new sights. He snorts softly and sometimes he's not crazy about getting close, but it doesn't stress him out. He is immensely curious about everything. This bodes well for an animal I want to take out and ride in new places at random times. We let him graze for about 20 minutes and then tucked him back into his stall.

As a side note, I met with the farrier and had him look at Ashke's feet. His assessment is that Ashke just needs a good trim. We are going to start there and then get him in shoes when I start riding him, in hopefully eight weeks or so. We'll see. I have to wait until there is muscle over his spine, because there is so way he could have a saddle on his back right now. When he stops flinching from being brushed, then maybe.

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