Wednesday, October 31, 2012

No Room

We were out of Amplify, which gave me a great opportunity to go out to the barn to see Ashke last night. I stopped by Murdocks on the way to work yesterday morning (after voting) and picked up 30lbs. I really wish they carried the 50 lb bag, but they only carry the tub. Once we move to TMR, we will be filling the baggies for his bin and I will know in advance when we are running out.

He is looking so good. He is adding muscle to his shoulder, back and butt. The only thing that has changed was adding the Lysine to his diet. He's not back sore after I ride. Of course, I haven't been riding for long, because we are inside and I just can't force myself to ride inside for more than 30 minutes or so.

Last night was especially painful. Gary had two clients in the indoor arena and they were riding in circles using the majority of the ring. It made it really hard for me to find any room to ride. He didn't try to minimize his room, like Chris did, and Nicole said it was even worse earlier. She was on Callie, Patty was on Sunny, Alex was on Gotcha, and Paul was on Rupert working with his trainer. And then Gary showed up with two clients and their horses. By the way, I'm not impressed with anyone who's horse stops with his head up and his mouth wide open. And if you work with your horse you wouldn't need to know how to leverage the bit in the horse's mouth, which Gary waxed eloquent about for a good fifteen minutes.

Ashke and I walked and trotted for warm up for fifteen minutes or so. I did a few of the walk for ten steps, trot for ten steps, which he liked better than the five and five. Nicole said the transistions would be more difficult on his back and to only do them for one circuit in each direction to start. We also did some cantering. Ashke still struggles to find the correct lead going clockwise. I think I need to work him on the corners, until he understands the cues. I was unable to work figure eights because there was no room. Can't wait for TMR.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Writing . . .

. . . about Riding. My goal is to post 30 times in the month of November. It is NaNoMoWri month, which is intended to encourage writers to put 50,000 words on paper. I am going to use it to encourage myself to blog about Ashke every day for 30 days.

On Sunday, Chris left Christensen's for her new home. Chris said Robyn was almost in tears saying goodbye on Saturday, which I find pretty hypocritical. If you are going to kick someone out, then don't act like you are sad to see them go. I didn't need to help move, since Chris had a ton of help from clients and friends, but I was there for moral support and to help load the horses.

There was quite the lag between when the gear was loaded and when they came for the horses. During that time, I saddled and rode Ashke in the indoor arena. I know we both hate the indoor, but the outdoor was really muddy and there was no one else to ride with.

His walk was super fast and stretchy. He lowers his head and really relaxes into it. His trot was inconsistant. One moment he is slow and smooth, with his neck curved and relaxed, the next he is trotting faster with his head thrown up. It is a work in progress. I went back to the martingale. He responded well to having the direction of pressure changed. I rode him across the arena at an angle (sidepass in Western, leg yeild in English) in both directions and he wants to speed up when he feels the pressure.

Then we cantered in figure eights. I broke the figure eight in the middle and we slowed to a trot and then picked up the circle at a canter to work on picking up the correct lead. He caught on fairly quickly and is better at maintaining his lead in a smaller circle. In a larger circle, he has a tendency to switch leads. I'm hoping that will become less and less as he gains strength in his back.

I asked J to film me tonight so I can see how he goes and how I am riding him. Yea! Maybe videos tomorrow.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gave Notice

Yesterday, at the end of the party at the barn to say goodbye to Chris, I walked out and told Grace and Robyn that I was giving my notice. I confirmed that we would be out of the barn on the 1st. I told them my primary reason was the trail access and they seemed okay with that. I honestly don't think either of them really cared.

So, now I want to show you why I wanted to move (politics aside):

Looking out at Table Mountain with the outdoor paddocks in the foreground. Looking South.

Looking West and South from the same spot (basically). Turn out pasture in the foreground.

The runs. Ashke on the left and Callie will be on the right.

The row of runs on "our" side of the barn.

 The round pen.

Three horse wash rack. They also have one inside with heated water, but its nice to have the outdoor one during the summer.

Standing in the small cross country area looking at the indoor arena and the outdoor arenas.

The South side of the indoor arena

The North side of the indoor. The clubhouse has free wifi. Heated with windows for viewing the arena. The arena is 3 or 4 times larger than the one at Christensen.

Nicole's finance told her she was being silly worrying about the new barn, since it was gorgeous and a complete upgrade. I think that helped put her mind at ease. Not that she could do much, since she had already signed the papers.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween . . .

. . . in pictures.

We started by bringing the saddle and other tack home.

We bought material covered with sparkles 

There was a lot of stitch witchery, and cutting, and sparkles.

The saddle cover in progress.

Ashke meeting me today.

Saddle cover in place.

Attaching the stirrips.

New bridle rig and chest piece.

Me with the sheik turban. Ashke didn't even turn a hair.

Such a pretty boy.

And the rider.

 With his ears up.

Headed for the arena.

At the mounting block.

Waiting like a wonderful boy. He was so incredibly good today.

First trip around the arena.

Doesn't he look awesome!?!

 Right before the judging.

Grace on Jazz - sorry for the blur. She wasn't eligible for the prize.

Anita and Cody with the Bunny and Carrot.

Alex and Gotcha
Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf

Haley and Comet
Princess and her Knight in shining armor


We won. We got a green bridle bag with Christensen Stables embroidered on it.

Then we went outside and rode around the block.

He did great on our ride. A little footsore on the front from going barefoot.
I'm so out of shape after not riding for two weeks. I hurt all over.

Can't wait to do it again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How He Got . . .

. . . his name.

I discovered the farm Thee Ashke was bred from prior to meeting him and the breeder sent me a video of his daddy, Thee Asil. I had picked out his name before meeting him as well, and when the breeder sent me the paperwork to register him she included a printed pedigree with his Name.

Thee Ashke.

Thee was from his daddy, obviously. But the Ashke took a few minutes. To explain, I need to share some . . . .

I am a bibliophile. I love to read and collect books of all kinds. In fact, I think the kindle is one of the best things ever, since I can carry all of my collection with me. I am especially fond of fantasy. One of the best series I read in the early nineties was a series by Mercedes Lackey - the Herald-Mage series starring Vanyel Ashkevron. (Do you see the Ashke?) Ashkevron can be shortened to make Ashke, which is a word that means Beloved in Lackey's world.

When I was searching for the right name, I knew I wanted to use Thee, to indicate lineage with Thee Asil and Thee Desperado. I knew I didn't want to call him Ahboo, mostly to get rid of the horrible memories that would go with that name. Then it came to me like a flash of light in my mind. Ashke. From the Herald-Mage series. I liked Ashke, because it sounds like a combination of Asil and Keishta, and it meant Beloved to me.

So, Thee Ashke means The Beloved. And it sounds a like Arab to boot. FTW on all levels.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Letting Him Move

The vet said two weeks no work and no stress. Ashke has spent the last week following me around, nudging me with his nose, and generally being silly. He is acting antsy so I took him out to the round pen and let him move around a bit. He was completely relaxed and was paying a ton of attention to Lacie in the big arena instead of what was going on in the round pen. Callie was gone to Niwot for a lesson and a bit of riding. I was supposed to go, but then we were told no work. Nicole is supposed to have video and pics that I will post later.

I also think I figured something out.

Do you see the 'Tude?

He's lifting his front feet nicely.

He looks to me like he keeps switching his lead in the back, so he is cross-cantering, which explains why it feels so rough when I am riding him.

When I got to the barn, Nicole was already there. As I was walking down the aisle toward her, talking, Ashke heard me and bellowed his greeting. Nicole commented about how he only greets me that way and that Callie doesn't even whinny at her that way. Then the three of us walked over to Callie. Nicole called her and Callie came walking into the stall from her run. When she reached the curtain that separates the stall from the outside run, she whinnied. I laughed and Nicole said, very dryly, "She's whinnying for Ashke, not me." Made me laugh harder. 

Thinking of trying horse soccer for Ashke. I think he might like it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

TMR . . .

Today was the day Nicole and I went out to Table Mountain Ranch. We spent almost three hours wandering around the property, looking at everything.

Great indoor arena
Great trail access
Other riders who trail ride
Ashke could be in a stall with a run next to Callie
Blanketing is included
Fed four times a day

Cons (according to Nicole):
Smaller stall and run
More wind (closer to foothills)
Having to move locations
Increased cost

The arena and the trails made up our mind. I was already convinced of how nice the stable was and really wanted Callie and Nicole to move out there too. I am excited about riding the hills and developing Ashke's rump and back. We left the barn manager a deposit to hold our spots for the first of December. Nicole had a momentary relapse at the barn (she has a lot on her plate and is kind of freaking out) but Jeff was very supportive of the move. She says she has the paperwork filled out already.

He moved nicely today. I allowed him to move around in the round pen for awhile and he was very relaxed at both the trot and canter. Even Nicole commented on how nice he was moving. Nicole was riding in the big arena when Ashke walked out and Callie just stopped wanting to do anything. Instead of getting stressed, Nicole ended her session and the four of us took a walk. There was a downed tree next to the road and Callie wasn't interested in getting close either time we walked next to it. She balked and didn't want to move forward until Ashke walked over and tried to eat the pieces of wood. The two of them are very close and I'm happy they both are moving.

Being silly with the stool.

Callie and the Pessoa system

Friday, October 19, 2012

Background . . .

I decided I needed to give some background on Ashke's breeding and history so that the negative parts of his past are glossed over and his incredible breeding and beginning are high-lighted.

Thee Ashke was born on a farm in Texas called Arabians Ltd on April 17, 2005. This farm breeds Straight Egyptian Arabians. Arabians Ltd has been in the business of breeding for 33 years and according to their website: The Arabians Ltd. facility features 140 acres of oak-studded pastures in central Texas that includes show and stallion barns, a training facility, and a world class mare care operation with round-the-clock attendants for broodmares and their babies.

So what makes the Straight Egyptian Arabian so special, you ask.

...on the merciless terrain of the Arabian Desert, he was bred for strength, bred to last. Loyal in battle, he was a prized warhorse. Blessed with affection of women and children in the black tents of Bedouin families, he was ever kind and loving.

King-maker of the East, the Arabian horse altered human history and reshaped the face of the world. Harnessing horse to chariot, the Pharaohs of the Nile Valley dazzled a world far beyond their own borders...
...on seal rings and stone pillars; in tombs and temples… from Egyptian hieroglyphics to sacred scriptures… history bears witness to his majesty and strength. Thou shallst fly without wings and conquer without swords, quotes the noble Qur’an. The Egyptian Arabian horse is a legendary animal, in all its beauty ... the early 19th century, the ruling families of Egypt gathered the finest horses from the deserts of Arabia and brought them to the land of the Pyramids. This extraordinary collection, unrivaled since the time of King Solomon, became the foundation for the modern-day Egyptian Arabian...
...between 1895 and the mid-1980’s, some of the finest Arabians to be found along the Nile were exported to the United States. Those individuals and their desert ancestors form the nucleus of the Egyptian Arabian bloodlines in present-day North America. Today, horses from these rare and treasured bloodlines are carefully preserved to retain their unique qualities and a classic refinement valued worldwide.

Straight Egyptian Arabians as we know them today reach back to the mares and stallions of Viceroy Mohammed Ali and his grandson Abbas Pasha I. Authentic and pure… they came in unbroken line from Bedouin tribes in the Arabian deserts ...(From the Pyramid Society webpage)

Thee Ashke is bred from the lines that were imported into North America and Arabians Ltd. is a member of The Pyramid Society, which is an organization that protects the bloodlines started by the Viceroy and Abbas Pasha I.

Thee Ashke's sire is Thee Asil:

Photo from Arabians Ltd.

His mama is Bint Kieshta, and as far as I can tell, there are no existing photos of her. According to the manager at Arabians Ltd, Thee Ashke looks just like his mother. So, in a sense, we know exactly what she looked like.

So, Ashke was raised at Arabians Ltd until he was sold. Here is that part of his story. . . .

Hello, I ride endurance in the Central Region. I rarely ever post, but know a few of ya'll on this list. I thought someone out there might be interested in this or know someone who might be. One of my
neighbors who raise quarterhorses recently purchased a couple of straight Egyptian Arab geldings for her daughter. (She is into barrel racing, however, and decided she didn't really want the Arabians
after all.) Anyhow she contacted me since she knew that I had Arabs and thought I might be interested or know of someone who was. I purchased one of them from her and the other she is offering for sale CHEAP. ($500). He is a grey yearling, great conformation, should mature around 15 hands. He is up to date on all shots and worming. He's halter broke, seems to have a really good mind, has been bathed, had his hooves trimmed, etc. I handled him some and he isn't flighty
or spooky at all. I actually liked him better than the one I purchased, but my husband and kids had other ideas. LOL. And since I really didn't need another horse I let them decide. Anyway, he sells with all the necessary paperwork to get his registration papers. His sire is Thee Asil (Thee Desperado x Ali Barakaa) and his dam is Bint Keishta (Thee Desperado x Kieshta).

That email was sent out Nov of 2006.

Ashke still has great confirmation, with a wonderful face and has matured to 15.1. He is all of the things described in this email. He is smart, loving, gentle, and gorgeous.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Super Sunday . . .

Today we found and purchased the Lysine supplement by Vita-flex. I really hope it helps with both the immuno-issues and to build muscle. I would love to see some muscle over his haunches going forward. Lysine is an amino acid that is necessary for protein utilization. Ashke is on 20 grams of pure Lysine one time a day.

According to Vita-flex:
Inadequate intake of protein or required amino acids by mature horses may lead to reduced feed intake, body tissue loss, poor hair coat, and reduced hoof growth. The calculation of the crude protein percentage of the horse’s diet is based on many pounds of feed. Pure Lysine is so concentrated, just a few grams each day can dramatically improve the availability of the rest of the protein in the diet. Because lysine is only one of the more than twenty amino acids found in proteins, Pure Lysine improves protein value without overloading the horse with excessive amounts of crude protein.

When we went to Ace to get the Lysine, they had a blanket we thought might work with the saddle. It didn't work. Elevating the pommel seems to aggravate the issue with the weight of the saddle being on the cantle, which lays across his kidneys. I am going to take out the epipedic pad again and see how that feels. And return the sheepskin pad from Ace.

 We went to the barn and pampered our Prince. He was very swollen on the left side, which was really obvious from behind. His left hip was much more swollen then it was yesterday. His leg looked a little swollen and his chest was larger on the left side. After we groomed him, J and I took him for a walk, which was more of a grazing tour than a walk. We let him dictate the pace. There was lots of good grass on the edges of the road and he wasn't interested in going past the barn on the road. In fact, he really wanted to hang out with Lacey, who was in the field and came to the fence next to him.

After our wandering walk, Ashke came back to the stall to find this:

He eats candy the same way T does - trying to chew it with his teeth. I love watching his tongue.

It was his turn to be in the field, but I couldn't come out to put him and Callie back in at five. Grace asked me if I was going to turn him out and I told her I couldn't come back to put them away. Katie offered to put them back in their stalls at 5, so after all of that Ashke got to go back outside in the field. He has crunchy treats and his peppermint lick waiting for him when he goes back inside.

Life is so tough for our Prince.

A New Story . . .

So. Yesterday Nicole and I trailered our horses out to see the reiki-acupunture-chiropractor-vet lady. Her name is Diane Wagner at Elemental Equine Services. She is absolutely awesome. It was amazing to watch her work. And she had some very important messages for me.

Ashke wondering what the heck I'm doing there before breakfast

When I got to the barn, the horses on Ashke's side of the stable hadn't been fed yet and Nicole wasn't going to be there until about 8:30 since she needed to buy a trailer tie for her trailer. I pulled Ashke out of the stall and began grooming him. I didn't do a lot of grooming, since he was very antsy, due to hearing the feed trailer making its way around. Mostly, I brushed the patches of green on his very white coat and tried to get them cleaned off. He hasn't been washed in weeks and he is growing thicker hair for winter, I despair of him being clean and white before next spring. When I was finished with my lick and a swipe, I threw him back in the stall and let him eat his food. I carried my saddle and blanket out to the wash rack about the time Nicole pulled up in her truck.

Not real interested in coming out of the stall

I help Nicole hitch up the trailer (made it on our first try) and once it was hooked up, we drove it out front.

 Much more interested after his breakfast. I unbraided his mane, because I wanted his "natural" look when the vet was working with him.

While Nicole grabbed Callie, I went back for Ashke and took him to the round pen to warm up. I didn't want him to have to endure an hour trailer ride after standing all night in the stall. When he moved around the round pen I noticed that he was drawn-up in the flank on both sides. His barrel looked streamlined and taut, like he was sucking in his gut. I hadn't noticed that before and I had no idea what it meant.

Nicole offered me a horse helmet for the trailer ride (I ended up buying her extra one - she had two) which I had never seen before. It is a very heavy piece of leather lined on the inside with thick sheepskin. It buckles on over the horse's poll and the front of their face. It's designed to protect a horse from injuring itself if it panics in the trailer. It's a pretty ingenious device. When I was 16, a guy I knew took 4 horses from a BLM wild horse adoption program. One of the four was a little black mare who threw herself while in the trailer and sliced all of the skin off of her face, from her poll to the middle of the bridge of her nose. She was the one that I worked with, got her going under saddle, treated her injury, rode her out. She was a sweet little mare who would bare a huge scar in the middle of her face because of her panic in the trailer. Since I have first hand experience with the possible results of a trailer mishap, having and using the horse helmet is a bonus in my book.

 Side view of how it fits on over their heads. See how thick the protection is?

Ashke's is a little wide, but he didn't seem to mind at all. The shape of the helmet will protect his delicate orbital sockets, the front of his face and the top of his poll. I like it a lot. 

Callie modeling hers with Nicole. 

Once the horses were sporting their nifty new look, we loaded them. Callie took a few minutes to walk all the way into the trailer. Nicole said it had been a while since they had trailered and Callie would get her front feet in and then walk back out. It took maybe four attempts before Callie walked in and began to eat her hay. Then it was Ashke's turn. I think he was very happy that Callie was in the trailer, because he made little fuss about following her in. Nicole swung the door mostly closed while I got him secured, and then we were off.

Diane's place was really nice. She has a barn set up with four stalls for client horses and we unloaded Ashke and Callie and put them in their stalls. 

Diane started with Callie, since Nicole was a returning client. She had Nicole take Callie to the round pen to walk and trot her in both directions, while Diane watched. Then they moved next to the barn so she could see her move in a straight line. Ashke got very antsy when Callie was taken outside to be evaluated. He was kicking at the stall, whinnying, and tearing around in circles. Nothing would calm him until she was back in his sight. After Callie was evaluated outside, Diane began to evaluate her physically.

Diane ran her fingers along the nerve meridians in Callie's body and evaluated her reaction to the touch. She measured the frog on all four feet to see if Callie was distributing her weight evenly when she moved. She also evaluated her spinal processes to see if she needed adjusting. And then Diane got to work.

Callie was off at the poll and Diane used a cookie to lower her head, then guided it up to the side toward her shoulder. You could hear the adjustment happen. Reminded me of having my neck adjusted. It was pretty sweet. After the adjustment, Callie was much more even on both sides of her neck.

Diane then started with the acupuncture. 

Diane used some straight needles in some places, like Callie's front left foot, but in other places she used thin needles with the end that allows a syringe to be attached. She started by taking a syringe full of Callie's blood, and everywhere a needle was placed that could be attached to the syringe, she reinjected Callie's blood. This is the equine version of cupping, which is an Arabic method of treating the chi by pooling blood over the lymph glands to help stimulate the body to heal itself. She also did the chiropractic adjustments on her shoulders and hips. Diane told Nicole that she would probably see a growing spurt in Callie's forequarters and withers over the next couple of months, due to her being "unlocked" in the spine and at the hips. It was very interesting to watch Diane elicit specific behavior from Callie in pursuit of adjusting her hips and shoulders. 

After the adjustment, Diane finished up with a laser stimulator. She used it over Callie's hips and spine. Then Callie was sedated and sent to Syd for her dental work. Then it was Ashke's turn.

Ashke greeting Diane for the first time. 

Ashke was incredibly sensitive on the nerve lines on his left side. I mean, sensitive to the point of threatening to kick, which he never does, and refusing to stand still. I was calm and patient, as was Diane, and we managed to get through the treatment in one piece. His right side had no sensitivity. Diane said he was experiencing the equine equivalent of shingles. That was the worse thing T ever had as a child. Ashke wasn't real happy with it either. He ended up licking up and down my coat, biting at my hands and clothes, and just letting me know he wasn't happy. But. He let Diane do her work.

Not a very happy pony.

Diane explaining that he is having a reaction to the vaccines from last weekend, which she also thinks is the reason for his swollen left leg on Sunday of last week. 

Since T has had reactions to vaccines, this is familiar ground, even if it is the horse-boy rather than the boy-boy.

Diane approached treatment with the acupuncture needles and injecting his blood over the lymph areas. She also did some treatment with the laser across his back and left sacrial joint, which was the hot spot on his left side. He relaxed as the treatment started, although he wasn't crazy about the acupuncture point on his abdomen.

Acupuncture points on his chest.

Acupuncture points on his side and back. 

There was another one lower on his flank, which ejected itself from his body after Diane had done the injection. That was one of the things that I found the most interesting. I didn't realize that could happen.

Diane pulling the needles from Ashke's chest.

Starting the laser treatment.

Laser treatment on his kidney region and over his hip.

He wasn't real excited about being touched at all, but he managed it.

 We need to give Ashke Lysine to help him build muscle and improve his immune system. I am going to have to go to Stockyard or Lafayette feed for the lysine. He was also rated at a 5 on the body scale, which is great since I thought he was higher than that. I'm hoping the lysine really helps him put on some muscle. 

I need to go back to the equipad blanket to see if we can get the saddle to fit better. If that doesn't work, I need to have the saddle narrowed a little bit. Diane says it is too wide for his withers right now.

At the end, Diane instructed Ashke to be on the horse equivalent of bed rest: no stress. no work. I can groom and adore him. I can hand walk him. I can feed him treats and spoil him. But no work and no stress. For at least fourteen days. We go back to Diane on the 17th of November.

The other thing Diane said is that although it was important for her to know about his past and where he came from/what he experienced, that we now need to stop telling that story. Ashke needs to move past his past and let it go. If I keep telling people his story, he doesn't have the opportunity to let it go. I agree with her and we've discussed as a family to no longer tell people that he is a rescue. 

We are going to rewrite his story. Going forward, our story is that this is Ashke, our beautiful Straight Egyptian Arabian and endurance horse in training.

Hence the change in the title of the blog. I am going to focus the blog on Ashke's training and his ability, his conditioning and his burgeoning enjoyment of trail riding.