It started on Friday when Michelle came out and trimmed Ashke and Cali. Ashke was so sweet. He really likes Michelle and greeted her when she got there. He kept trying to help her while she was rasping his front feet. He was doing the plucking at her clothes with his lips thing. Michelle said his feet were very hard, but there still wasn't much sole over the front of his hoof where the canon bone is closest to the ground. She took down the heels, recreated his breakover, but left the sole untouched. Hopefully by the next trim, they will be even better than they are now.
After doing Ashke, I held Cali while Michelle trimmed her feet. Michelle said her feet looked great and there seemed to be no problem with the injury to her right hind leg and in her opinion, N could ride her.
On Saturday, I met N at the barn at 8 am. We groomed the horses and then took them to the outdoor jumping arena. N was rightly afraid that if we didn't give the horses a chance to express themselves themselves prior to saddling up, she would regret it. We turned them loose and the two of them tore around the arena at a dead run, for twelve or thirteen laps. They were snorting and prancing and running all out with their tails flagged. They hadn't been out to turnout together all week and Cali was a bit up.
After they had worn themselves down a bit, we went back to the barn and saddled up. I had talked to N about the problem with the girth rubs I've been getting and she asked me where I was checking the cinch. I was checking it where I learned to check the cinch on a Western saddle. She told me I should check the cinch at the apex of his belly. She said it would always be loose at the elbow, but the correct tightness would be between his front legs. Lightbulb moment. I loosened it two full holes. It was still snug at the apex of his belly. He seemed so much happier to have a looser cinch. I just need to have N check it for me next time I ride, just so I can be sure it's still not too tight. I rode for almost 5 miles and it didn't slip at all.
After we saddled them, we went to the outside arena and N lunged Cali to see how she was doing mentally. She was in the game. While N did that Ashke and I worked on opening the gate from the right. This time I was calm and patient, rewarding his try and giving him a chance to think about what I wanted. By the time N was done lunging and ready to ride, Ashke and I had opened the gate from the right side twice. The second time he did it perfectly. He was rewarded with lots of love and a peppermint.
It was time to ride. Both horses were booted, Ashke in the Backcountry Gloves and Cali in the regular Gloves. We headed up the Mesa.
N was as excited to be out riding as I was. Cali and Ashke were so happy to be together out on the trail. At least until we started up the first climb.
Ashke walks up the road with his head to the left, looking uphill. I can't tell if this is because he needs to walk that way to compensate, still, for his right hind hip, or if he is looking for deer on the hillside. Or maybe he was walking that way to double check that Cali was still behind him. Once we got to the top of the hill, he stopped, which makes me inclined to believe he is doing it to compensate. The good news is, he didn't do it as long as he had last time and on our way back, going uphill, he didn't do it at all.
Both Cali and Ashke were puffing and sweaty by the time we got to the top of the hill. We gave them a couple of brief rests, neither of which Ashke wanted to stand still for, and then pushed on. The Mesa is still fairly green and beautiful, with very long green grass.
We headed around the mountain toward the parking lot for North Table Mountain. Neither of us thought Cali was up for the climb to the top. There were a couple of parts where N said she was feeling very nervous about the drop off, which was more of a slope than a drop off. She was even more nervous on the way back, which we both found very interesting. You can't see her, but Cali is standing in front of Ashke snorting at the log just to the left of his head.
N was trying to get a pic and he wouldn't hold still for anything.
He's just not a stop and stand around horse. The more we went, the stronger he seemed to get.
Finally, seventeen thousand pics later, he stood still. Kinda.
Okay, if you look really close you still won't be able to see it, but take it from me, somewhere in the grass is a six foot Bull snake. Ashke was within two or three feet of it when both N and I saw it. It was in the little gully at the edge of the road. Ashke actually stopped and backed up a few feet when I asked. Bull snakes are colored very similarly to a rattlesnake, but with a different head and tail. I realized about the time we were backing up that it was a Bull not a rattler and let N know. She's pretty freaked about the whole nature thing and is especially wary of snakes. And drop offs. The snake turned and wound it's way up into the grass. I could see it when I took the photo, but even when I enlarged it picture bit by bit, I couldn't find the snake.
We didn't make it to the parking lot. When we crossed the second bridge we left the path and headed uphill at a trot. The grass was pretty deep and I didn't feel safe cantering, which is what Cali and N really wanted to do. There was no visibility. So instead, of taking the trail straight back, I took N all the way to the dirt access road, which is flat and well graded. When we turned onto it, I interrupted her story and asked if she wanted to canter. She did and then we did, for probably a quarter mile. We hit an upgrade and Cali began to slow down. Ashke had jumped like he wanted to bolt, but once he figured out I was going to let him run, he settled under me. Our boots allowed us to travel over the rocky road without any incidents and it was a great run. We slowed the horses down and turned them back up the hillside to the trail, while N picked up her story.
Ashke knew where home was and he jogged a fair bit of it going home. I worked on getting him to move in a slow collected trot, flexed at the poll and relaxed. I figure if I can get him to do those things, even if it's on the trail going home, I can eventually get him to do the same in the arena on command. He has such an active trot, but nice and slow, when I can get him to do it. Cali was pretty tired by this time, so I made Ashke trot at the speed of her walk. It was fun.
This is the standard, over the shoulder while trotting, shot. Cali was feeling pretty done by this point, although she wasn't dragging. You can tell by the earlier photo, Ashke was still going with his head up and his ears pricked. Five miles is not enough to wear the boy down. Hopefully, the next time we ride we won't have to let them tear around and wear themselves out first so Cali has more energy at the end of the ride.
N wanted a pic of Cali in her boots. Doesn't she look styling? Of course one of them is already falling apart. A screw that holds the top part onto the glove came loose and was lost at some point in our ride. It can be fixed, but is pretty disappointing.
When we got back, we unsaddled and rinsed them off. Ashke didn't feel fatigued and was pretty excited about his carrots. When the horses were settled we went to N house and changed clothes, then loaded up for Parelli Horse and Soul at the National Western Complex. We didn't get there until about 1. We met L just about the time they were on a break. We stayed for the driving class and a loading class with Pat Parelli. I am impressed with his ability to work with horses and could see how the "games" he plays with the horses set them up to do whatever he is asking them to do. The horse he was working with had a fifteen year old handler who didn't seem to be real excited or connected to the horse they were trying to teach to load, so a lot of the class was him teaching her how to handle the horse. An hour and a half later they still didn't have the horse in the trailer, so we left, which is a lot like having sex and not reaching that moment, if you know what I mean. I complete let down.
I was not real impressed with the marketing of products at the show. I can see how they really push their website and their DVD's, which N said really helped her in a lot of ways with Emma and Cali, and how some people would say they are way to commercialized. I thought the program was interesting and learned a couple of things, plus I found a military style hat of awesomeness. All in all I have no complaints.
It was an exhausting, but, great day.
I think the time is off on the app. We rode for about an hour and a half, with a stopped time of about 25 minutes. (I forgot to turn off the tracker)
Decent elevation climb, despite not going to the top of the mesa. One of these days we will get up there.
The part of the map that overlays the road is where we had a sweet canter/wild gallop, depending.