Tonight I went to the barn after work to lunge Ashke in the training system. It was our second try and pretty much went the same way the first time did, although there were some signs of improvement.
Ashke seemed pretty happy to see me and stuck his head in the halter even though he had been busy eating when I walked up. I brushed him off and only had to correct him one time for pawing. I brought out the training system and put the surcingle on his back and adjusted two of the cable to provide a little bit more tension (there had been slack last time). He was a little girthy, even though I know it couldn't have been tight against him - I could stick my entire arm between the surcingle and his side. I tightened it slowly, one notch at a time, until it wouldn't fall off. I stripped my headstall down to just the strap that goes over his head in order for the cavasson to fit well. Then I threw the fleece cooler I have over him for the walk to the arena. Colorado got hit with a spring snowstorm and the temp went from 71 yesterday to 16 today.
When we got to the arena, I stripped off the cooler and checked the surcingle. Ashke was a bit tense and I don't think he was looking forward to the butt pressure against the back of his legs. The bungies make it easy to slip the pad into place and then hold it there. I got the straps set up for the bridle and then slipped the butt band down into place.
Ashke took off at a gallop mixed with violent kicking out with both back legs at the band across the back of his legs. The first several circuits was marked by many attempts to remove the band from his butt. Then he just galloped. I asked him to slow a couple of times, but he really wasn't interested, so I let him gallop until he was tired. Once he started to slow down, his head came down and he stopped fighting the pressure on his mouth so much. Finally, he moved into a trot and I could see him working it out in his head. You could see him trying to position himself so the pressure would be minimized.
Finally, he went long and low, keeping his butt underneath him, and working well at the trot. His head was vertical and he was moving in a frame. His trot was relaxed and pretty easy. I asked him to stop and he did.
Then I turned him around and asked him to move in the other direction. He broke into a hip flailing, gyrating gallop. Again. It was almost like he was okay once he had given in, but when we turned the other direction, all bets were off. I let him gallop until he worked it out of his system, which definitely didn't take as long as it had the first time. He moved into the trot in a proper frame without as much fighting, figuring out his center and balance very quickly.
We switched directions two more times. Ashke didn't work for longer than five minutes in a direction before switching to the opposite direction. Our total time in the rig was 20 minutes. Ashke was warm but not sweaty when we finished and I was pretty happy with his effort to figure out what I wanted him to do. I praised him every time he dropped his head and went low into the harness, because I want him to get it. I also want him to stop fighting the pressure on the back of his legs so hard. It will be interesting to see how he responds to bit pressure under saddle and if he will put it together that what I want is him to achieve a frame.
I wore my new riding breeches and half-chaps tonight. I really need to find a pair of shoes that have a heel that I can ride in that are also comfortable to walk in. My cowboy boots aren't really cutting it any more.