Wednesday, December 30, 2015

WW: Saiph's Art

In August of 2014, Saiph (at my request) created a tribal style tattoo of Ashke. I have been waiting to have the right tattoo artist show up to get it tattoo'd on my body. My co-worker is working on a sleeve on her right arm and the level of art in that tattoo impressed the hell out of me. Her husband's tattoo was just as fine. So, I made an appointment for tonight.

The tattoo Saiph drew.
(I absolutely love this!!!)

Her art and my boy permanently applied to my body.
(I can't wait to show Ashke)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Goal Review 2015

 I set some fairly attainable goals last year, in January. Here is the review and my thoughts.

1. Ride 4 or 5 times a week -- Mostly 

I did this for 3/4 of the year and then my riding got derailed by T's run schedule and life. Then the holidays happened, and Bronco games and more life. Ashke has had a two month lay off which I intend to remedy next week. We have plans for next year and it's going to take 4 to 5 days a week of consistent riding to be able to do them.
2. Four Season Riding -- Success!!

 Winter is the only really hard season

This, I think, will always be a thing. We have what we need for riding in any kind of weather and the aptitude to haul out when it's below freezing. Ashke loves riding out in all kinds of weather and seems to do well in all types of conditions. Clipping him early this year has made a huge difference in his sweat factor and seems to make him much more comfortable.

3. Ride 500 trail miles -- So damn close!!

15 miles has become our standard length of ride

I came so close to making this goal. K and I were trying to figure out how to make it happen, but there just was not enough weekends to accomplish it with all of the other things we had planned. I think I am 30 miles short of 500. Still we had some great rides and found some new trails. I can't wait to keep exploring.

4. Work on my Working Equitation  -- Success!!!

 Speed round

I practiced. We built obstacles. I did a clinic and a show. Resounding success.

5. Spend more time camping -- Fail

 How we roll

We went a couple of times, but the heater in the pop-up stopped working and that was problematic. Any time there is fail with something that involves gas, I'm hesitant about going forward without having it checked. That is in the works for the first quarter of this year.

Overall, I did okay. I just wish I had 40 more miles. . . . 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Woke up this morning to six inches of snow, blowing snow, crappy roads and no school. J and I ventured forth to bring home bacon.  I dropped her off at the park n ride and headed west.

  Driving the Big Sully to work.
Very slow going.

Not many people made the journey.

This is what it looks like to be the only person at work.

It's supposed to keep snowing until 5 pm. Heading home about 3, I think. Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Mostly because the month of December is almost half over and then life will get back to normal. Not that it hasn't been fun, but I feel like we've taken a four month lay off and I'm ready for it to be all riding all the time. I'm hoping to be able to ride twice this week and then we will be tied up in holiday plans until the 29th. K and I are hoping to get our first ride of the year on the 1st, but if not then definitely on the 2nd. I'm hoping the weather will be good enough for us to continue getting out on trail, but if the predictions of El Nino are correct, we may be facing a series of storms every couple of days all winter.

Thankfully, I have an indoor my horse seems to really like. I'm going to move out some of my WE things the week after Xmas, so I have stuff to work on if I want. Everyone at the barn has been very nice and Ashke is already a barn favorite.

On Saturday, T ran his first off-season 5k in 21 degree weather, with snow falling. Then J and I ran a ton of errands, tying up the last bits of holiday cheer we needed to do. I needed to get my hair cut, but was told I would have to come back at 2, so J and I headed to the barn. I was in levis and tennis shoes, but we went anyway.

Ashke whinnied when he heard us come in. He was a mess, so I did an intense grooming on him and J attended to his mane. Then we moved from the tie post to the grooming stalls, so I could work on his front feet. I've been shaping them every Saturday since my last trim. I am using the Radial Rasp (as suggested by Saiph and she was right). I used the edge of my tack box to hold his outstretched hoof so I could shape the hoof from the top, which I was struggling to do prior to this week. (I have it on good authority that there is going to be a farrier stand that Saiph recommended under the tree in a couple of weeks.) I thought his feet looked really good by the time I was done and the hoof wall has not pulled away from the sole like it has in prior cycles. I'm really hoping Kris tells me I am doing things the right way when she comes out on the 23rd. After I finished his feet, I saddled him up and headed to the arena.

 Working on inside bend.

So relaxed and interested in what is going on.

Four years since I got him at my Holiday Party, which happened on Saturday night.
He's just gotten better and better.

I rode for about 30 minutes. J took two videos of our canter. I think he looks relaxed and he wasn't fighting with my at all. We stayed relaxed and comfortable.

On the right lead.

To the left

Cantering to the left has always been the trigger to fight, since it is much harder for Ashke's right hip. He got ragged a couple of times on the turns on the end, but I was able to balance him and keep the canter going. We counter bend just a hair, which makes it much easier for him to make it around the corners on the correct lead. I really think he's gotten stronger from the cantering we've done on trail. I was very pleased with our ride. Quickly, we put him up with a handful of nicker makers and headed out to get my hair cut. Then we went to my company's Holiday party were much fun was had by all.

Sunday, I left the house about nine and went out to mess with him. I decided to forego riding and instead wanted to work with him from the ground. I need to figure out how to teach him to stand square,  which he does most of the time but didn't do when we were at the show. Any of the times he halted. After ineffectively working on that, I pulled out my come along rope and started working on desensitizing him to the rope around his legs.

I looped the rope through the bottom loop of his halter, so I could control his direction with the lead rope still attached to the ring of his halter. I spent time throwing the rope down past his body, on both sides, over his back, over his neck, over the crown of his head, and around his legs. He was allowed to move his feet whenever he needed to, but once he stopped moving he was rewarded with a "good boy", a rub on his forehead and a nicker maker (these are kind of like crank). I had him move in a circle dragging the rope on one side, then a circle dragging the rope on the other side. then straight forward with the rope on either side. I let the rope tangle and move however it needed to, controlling where Ashke could move until he stopped spooking and turned to me to stop. Then I worked on wrapping the rope around his front legs and applying pressure. The left front was fine, but the front right sent him into a frantic trot around me. I kept the rope up by his elbow and talked calmly to him until he calmed down and stopped. Then took the time to love on  him and feed him crank before starting again. 

By the end of our 45 minutes, he had calmed considerably. I did try to drive him from behind, but need to get the surcingle in order to really make that work. A couple more sessions and perhaps I won't have to worry about him panicking and pulling away if the rope is behind a front leg. 

I cleaned up his stall, added a hanging treat for him to amuse himself with, gave him an extra feed and then headed for home. I will be very happy when our schedule is back to normal and we can get to work on improving our dressage and EOH scores.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


At least I am hoping this is it for a while.

So, to back up, we were at a temp barn for a month, and I have never been so thankful to move my horse in my entire life. I am so glad I knew I was moving, because otherwise I would have been scrambling to find Ashke a place to live.

One of the issues with boarding at a barn that is a private facility, not a commercial endeavor, is that the boarders cater to the owner, not the barn being set up to support the boarders. What do I mean? In a commercial facility, if I wanted extra shavings or my stall stripped or a feed change, I would communicate that to the BM and it would get taken care of. In a private facility that has boarders but is structured around the BO, that isn't always the case.

Things expected of Ashke:
  • No shavings in the stall. Horse must learn to pee outside, even though his dislike of pee scald was almost pathological. When horse refuses to pee outside, sand is added to stall to soak up pee, and shavings put down on the mud outside to encourage him to seek out that spot. 
  • No shavings in the stall. Horse must learn to sleep standing up or on rock hard, cold ground. This did not sit well with my comfort seeking animal, who prefers a deep bed and long, deep sleeps. His left leg began to show signs of discomfort by the end of the month due to not being able to rest it while laying down.
  • Three flakes of hay a day. I could not pay for more feed through the barn. I was told to feed extra grain (Envision was recommended) since that is so much better for your horse than forage. I had to purchase hay to place into a slow feeder bag in order to supplement. A couple of days after we moved in we learned that the barn had lost three horses in the past couple of months to colic. Cue panic. I fed an extra bale of hay a week while we were there. 
  • Not only that, but their alfalfa was horrible. I'm guessing she bought the first cutting because it was stemmy and full of weeds. Ashke wouldn't eat it. Instead he would pull it out of the feed bin and toss it on the floor to pee on. We switched him to the grass and ended up putting it in the slow feed bag. The BO was pissed off at Ashke and I'm sure if we weren't already planning on leaving, would have asked us to move out.
  • We paid for trailer parking. Told BO we hauled out most weekends. Went to haul out the first weekend and were told it was too muddy to get the trailer out and the road to the back of the property was closed. Insisted that we had to haul to get his feet done. BO thought it perfectly reasonable to tell me we couldn't get our trailer. I'm not sure why, except that her husband had this strange paranoia about driving through the mud on their property. We insisted and eventually was able to pull our trailer out, which going forward we parked in the front and not in the mud.
  • The reason I moved to the barn originally was because of the indoor. However, once I was there I was told that it really wasn't useable during the winter. Why? Well, first they didn't water it since it was cold, which made it really dusty. So you could ride, just not fast and not for very long. Second, sheep.
 Five ewes and one ram housed in pens in the indoor when the weather was cold enough to freeze their water supply.

Do you know it is not really possible to do anything other than stand at the other end of the arena and snort when there are sheep in there with you? The world according to Ashke stipulates that no work need be done when there are sheep. Just knowing they exist is enough. And then, as if that was not enough, there was this:

Posted a week before I moved out.

Number one is pretty standard as is number three and four. No complaints there. However, I do not need someone telling me when I can or can not turn my horse out. They don't offer turn out so the horse is either stuck in the stall or ridden in the indoor. With the sheep. They posted closed signs on the arenas and round pen. I have never experienced that before. I think it has more to do with the arena and round pen footing than it does with it being a safety thing. It goes back to the mud issue from using the trailer. Especially when you consider number five. Seriously?!! Avoid walking around the barn when muddy or wet conditions are present. I didn't ask if they meant outside or inside, since I only had five days to go until I moved when this was posted.

The move took five minutes. Literally. I think Ashke was surprised at how short the ride was. Before we moved him, J and I went to Agfinity to buy shavings (10 bales) so we had plenty to bed his stall when we got there. I dumped two bales into his stall and then we let him wander around in the indoor for fifteen minutes before introducing him to his stall mates.

He has a mare on one side and a pushy gelding on the other. The stall is pretty good sized but the run is about the same size, so on the small side. It doesn't matter though, since he gets turn out with other horses for two hours a day. And when he is inside he looks onto the indoor arena, which gives him plenty of stuff to look. Kind of like arena TV. 

 Just stepped off the trailer.

So cheerful and well lit.

 In turn out the first day with Rocko.

 One of the smaller turn outs. Testing Ashke's personality and behavior on a small scale.

This was the morning after our move in. 

Enjoying his first mash in his new stall.

I went out last night to ride for the first time in the arena. I had no real expectations. My goal was to be relaxed at the walk and trot. I didn't think I would even try a canter, since he reacted so negatively to doing so at SQA. Ashke was a little spooky when I was getting him ready but he settled pretty quickly once I was on him. He stretched down and really stepped out at the walk and was able to relax at the trot. We took a lot of breaks, during which I reconnected with a woman I knew at Christiansens. There were other women riding and Ashke felt very relaxed with the other horses in the arena.

Very well lit arena. Lots of happy horses and riders.

Ashke enjoying his after ride snack while watching TV.

The atmosphere in this stable is so comfortable and he has settled in very quickly. The BM says that he has gone out with five or six different horses and has been great with all of them. She has no hesitation in putting him out with any of the horses on the property. He is sweet and kind to the workers, eats his hay (which he loves), and has felt more relaxed than he has since we left TMR. The energy here is warm and soothing. The BO is relaxed and willing to work with us. It is a comfortable place for him to be and he really seems to like it here. 

Best indoor ride we have had since we left TMR.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


One of the things J and I have tried to do with our son is to provide experiences that either expose him to new things or things that are fun. For example, the summer he was six (between K and 1st grade) I got us both passes to our local water park and we spent the summer riding rides, splashing in the pool and eating funnel cake before leaving for home. It was one of the most magical summers of my life and one I will remember forever. We've taken him to Disneyland, Disney World, Seaworld, numerous zoos, the Pacific Ocean, the Grande Canyon, the Little Bighorn Battlefield, Seattle, Boston, P-town, and the Black Hills. He's gone camping, gone fishing, hiked, biked, whale-watched, cave spelunked, rollerbladed and rock climbed. We've taken him to Rockies games, Nuggets games and Broncos games. We exposed him to everything we had the opportunity to expose him to.

We've also pushed him to expand his boundries and to this end we forced him to take a voice class last year. He said we were ruining his high school life, but Honeybadger-momma doesn't care. A couple of weeks into the class it was his favorite class in school. The voice class is a year of semi-private voice lessons with a very talented instructor. As part of the curriculum T was exposed to a bunch of different types of music. Imagine our surprise to find that his absolute favorite singer of all time was Andrea Bocelli. T loves opera, actually is able to sing with vibrato and sounds very operatic. And loves Bocelli.

Promotional video from YouTube
(Andrea Bocelli and Ariana Grande)

J suggested back in May that we should see about getting T to his concert. I was kind of hesitant, since I wasn't sure he would still be a fan six months later. There was a concert in Phoenix in December that was in the middle of the week. That was the only show close to us that we could really consider. In August, we revisited the concert idea. I asked T if he like Andrea Bocelli still and he said yes. He thought Andrea was the best male vocalist of all time and when I asked if he would want to see him in concert, he responded with a resounding yes. So J and I looked at the concert again.

And holy crap tickets are expensive. The prime seats were $750 each. The mid-arena seats were $300. The back upper deck balcony seats were $140. I asked J if she would want to go (trying to work out how we could drive down and back in three days) and she said we should fly while she stayed home with the dogs. With that set in place, I went on Southwest and searched for flights. I could get a round trip ticket for the same price as the concert tickets. I went ahead and secured the airline tickets and picked what looked like the best seats available in the price bracket we could afford. And then we waited.

At parent teacher conferences we let his teachers know he was going to be out for those two days. His voice teacher was almost beside herself looking forward to his excitement. I was originally going to take two days off, but then I needed to move barns, so I ended up taking Tuesday off as well. After moving Ashke (more on that tomorrow), we picked up T from school and brought him home. J and I had packed bags prior to leaving the house that morning and loaded them in the trunk of the car. When we got home J said she was going to take a shower. While she was in the shower I asked T to change his clothes so he could come with me. He asked where we were going and I said to K's house. He said no, he didn't want to change his clothes and he didn't want to come with me. I told him he needed to change his clothes so Mom could wash them. He stomped his way upstairs and changed, but was still bitching about going with me. I told him if he would come I would buy him sweetarts.

He agreed.

I am not above bribery.

Then he balked again and asked me what we were really going to do. I told him we were going shopping to find J a Xmas present at Best Buy. He wanted to get Krispy Kreme and I finally agreed knowing we weren't getting donuts but wanted him to come with me out of the house.

J and I managed to sneak all of his important electronics into my bag while he was walking the dogs, then kissed her goodbye and got in the car.

We headed for the airport. A quick stop for Sweetarts and back on the road to the airport. T fell asleep in the car on the way, then woke up as we got close. I kept waiting for him to ask why we were at the airport, but we got closer and closer and he didn't say anything. Finally, as we were driving up to the terminal, he got a bit belligerent and wanted to know who we were picking up at the airport. He wanted to know if it was Jay and when I laughed and said no, he called her and demanded to know if she was flying in. She said no and so he called Grammie.

Grammie knew what was happening, since we were staying with her. She prevaricated as best as she could, but that was about the time I was parking the car. T got out of the car and walked to the trunk where he saw the suitcases. His eyes went wide and he asked where we were going. I told him we were going to Phoenix and he said goodbye to Gma. He asked me when J was going to drive out (for Xmas) and I laughed. I told him we were only going for two days and would fly back on Thursday.

He asked why. I told him this was part of his xmas gift. He stared off into the distance for about five seconds, then turned to me and said "We are going to see Andrea Bocelli, aren't we?"

I had to laugh, but didn't answer. He pulled out his phone and looked it up, found the concert and knew. He was so excited.

The flight out was uneventful, as was our night at mom's. On Weds, we didn't have enough time to really do anything, so we hung out with Gma, had an early dinner (or late lunch) and then got ready for our concert.

We do clean up pretty good.

 Better lighting, at least.

We drove downtown in Mom's car, parking at a park n' ride 40 blocks from the event. My mapquest app drove me right past the PnR and we drove another eight blocks before I twigged to the mistake and turned around. The lot we parked in is used for a huge swap meet and we ended up parking in the very back, under a light. We were walking back to catch the lightrail when the train went past. It was 6:45 and the concert didn't start til 7:30, so I wasn't worried. I was a lot less worried at 7:10 when the trail finally showed up. It dumped us at Talking Stick Arena, where the Suns play, at 7:23 but we had two blocks to walk to the entrance. Security at the concert was intense but we were vetted through and sent upstairs at 7:32. Thankfully, the music didn't start until 7:45.

A quick shot prior to the concert starting, since we were told no photos of Andrea.
We abided by the rules, although the woman sitting next to me did not.

At 7:45 the concert started and for two hours we were transported by this man's voice. T held my hand the entire concert, except when we applauded. I was amazed at the music, most of which was opera and in Italian, and even more so by the soft singing T did on the songs he knew. On the second encore, Andrea performed Time to Say Goodbye, which is T's favorite and was icing on the cake. I was amazed by the singer and by my son. Such an incredible experience.

After the concert, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe next to the arena and got dinner. We were both really hungry. After we had eaten we headed back to the light rail. By this time it was almost 11:30, the streets were deserted and I was feeling somewhat vulnerable. I was alone with my son in Phoenix at a lightrail stop waiting for the train. Luckily, I had cast a circle around us before we had gotten out of the car, and no one bothered us. 

There was a fairly sketchy guy wandering up and down the lightrail stop talking to himself. I was keeping an eye on him and keeping myself between T and him. He stopped and took his sweatshirt off and laid his bag down on a concrete barrier. He then headed over to interact with a young woman who had just walked up. I was keeping an eye on them (ready to call the police if he got too close or touched her) and joking with T while we waited. As we were surreptitiously watching their interaction I noticed an older black man riding up on his bike. He stopped further down the stop and talked to the young man there, then came on toward us. 

As he drew up next to the other man's bag he had left laying there I heard him say,

"I'm going to be a thief."

Then he stopped and gave the blue bag a wickedly funny look, like he was contemplating picking it up. Then, very loudly, he shouted "No, Ricky! No!"

Then he pushed his bike forward toward the other end of the lightrail stop, leaving the blue bag where it lay.

T and I lost it. We were giggling and repeating the sequence of comments. It kept us entertained until we got home safely. I'm laughing just thinking about it. We did kind of take it further:

"I'm going to be a murderer . . .  No, Ricky! No!" 

Anyway, it was a wonderful three days with my boy. We flew back on Thursday and landed safely. I think he had an incredible time and seemed to really enjoy the concert.  J was happy to see us and said she had really missed us. The dogs and cats were all happy we were home. 

Tomorrow I go out to see my other boy.

Monday, November 30, 2015


This is my last blog of November, which leaves X,Y and Z out in the cold. That's okay, I was pushing my creativity limit on the earlier posts.

Winter has started here and we have started our winter riding campaign. The trip up Waterton Canyon was after our first winter snow and included temps starting in the low 40's to the upper 20's. Our ride on Saturday started in the 20's and ended in the upper teens. For anyone else who might be crazy enough or daring enough to ride in true winter weather, here are some tips from me, interspersed with photos from our Saturday ride.

Winter Wear:
On our trip up Waterton Canyon I wore my new pair of Kerrits I scored for $40 at a clearance sale at Murdocks last June. I think they were last year's pair of the Sit Tight N Warm Windpro KP. They are nice and thick and I love how they feel. They are much more durable than the Irideons I was wearing last year and the fit is much better. On our ride up Waterton Canyon I wore them by themselves and was very comfortable. On Saturday, I added a wind/water proof shell from REI over the top to add protection. Plus, I layered a pair of insulating long underwear under the breeches. I was really comfortable even after riding for two hours in temps in the low 20s (I don't think it got above 22 degrees on Saturday). I was thankful for the waterproof layer after we walked under an overhanging branch that dumped snow all over us. And then the second time it happened and I was standing in my stirrups leaning forward. It kept my butt from getting wet when I sat down on the pile of snow covering the fleece on my saddle. That was fun.

Forest Service person who took a pic of us crossing the river, which Ashke did not want to do.
Eddy led. I pony club kicked him until he finally gave it up and crossed.

For my top I wore long underwear, a thermal shirt and my Carhartt Rancher Coat. I can not say enough good about Carhartt. It is kick ass at keeping one warm. The Rancher is quilt-lined with water and wind proof outer layer. It has a double zipper so I can raise the bottom zipper just a bit, plus side splits with snaps, so the coat fits well without bunching when I am in the saddle. I was comfortably warm and we didn't ride hard enough to break a sweat. The footing just wasn't that great.

We only had about five minutes of sun. This was it. Otherwise, it was grey.

I wore a Burton ski cap under my helmet. It is made without seams, so it fits under the helmet pretty well. It helped keep my ears and head very comfortable. However, my face was really cold (especially my chin) and if we had gone much longer or if there had been any wind I would have worried about frostbite. I have a balaclava I wore last year, that I will pull out next time. It is fairly thin so it should fit under my helmet and has a drawstring so I can close up the opening around my face. I also have a neoprene face mask that I can wear that will protect my chin, my cheeks and my lips from wind or frost burn.

The boys seemed really happy to be out, although it was a spook fest through the trees.

For gloves I wore a pair of work gloves we got at Murdocks. They are insulated and super warm. I was well enough insulated that I didn't actually wear them until after lunch, because my core was warm and that warmth translated to my hands. K wore a pair of wool liners and leather gloves over the top. She added hot hand handwarmers in between the layers, and her hands were really cold. She's going to try something different next time we ride, since she was pretty uncomfortable by the time we got back to the trailer.

Do you see the grey?

For my boots I wore the boots I got last winter that worked really well last winter. They didn't work on Saturday. I thought I was going to lose a toe my feet were so cold by the time we got back to the trailer. On top of that, the boots didn't agree with the stirrups I am using. They were super slick and I lost my stirrups four times before lunch because Ashke would not stand still. I obviously am not working him hard enough. Time to start dressaging in the indoor. I think I will try my North Face fleece lined winter boots (they have a heel) and see if the slickness is eliminated. I will also add toe warmers to my boots like all of my compadres. (I blame J, since she didn't tell me we had them.)


Heading south. J had a great ride and seemed really happy we were out.

The clouds were banked to our south. It got colder the further south we rode.

We stopped for lunch at the gazebo. Eddy was sure he was supposed to be fed.

K wore her Carhartt overalls. She was very warm, but her flexibility was hindered by the Carhartts. Watching her try to bend her knee to get her foot in the saddle made me happy I was just wearing breaches. I have Carhartt bibs I plan to wear this winter, but just not yet.

Not going to take no for an answer.

Ashke was a bit more subtle.

Lover's eyes. Really working his charm.

After lunch, I was much colder than before. The temps had dropped but I also think adding fuel to our bodies, standing around in the cold and not moving dropped our core temps a lot. That was when my feet started to get cold. The boots I have really aren't designed to stay warm if you are in the snow.

This was one of the overhanging branches covered with snow that caused me to look like the abominable snowwoman.

South Platte River.
We saw Tundra Swans (about 20), Cooper's hawk and some unidentified Eagle.

This is the part of the river trail we usually canter. 
We were luck enough to travel at a fast walk.

We blended into the landscape.

Following us through the snow.

There were parts of the riverbank that Ashke was really cautious about.

He was fairly brave right up to the point where a six point buck came out of the underbrush.
Then every bush was viewed with distrust.

It was very pretty.

By the time we reached the truck I was ready for the hot chocolate I had in a thermos, which didn't work the way it was supposed to. The chocolate was barely warm and not very satisfying. I'm going to look for a small thermos to carry a hearty soup for winter lunch. That was K's idea, but I like it. And find our other thermos to carry hot chocolate in.

We did five miles in about two hours (half an hour stop for lunch). Not super long or fast, but still fun.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


 Means fast.

One of my biggest regrets was not having any media from the Speed Trial at the Working Equitation show. This was one of the most fun things Ashke and I have ever done and it was an amazing event. After feeling like we sucked rocks the first two phases, he came out and kicked ass and took names in the speed round. And now I have the photos to prove it.

The only rules for the Speed round is that there are no rules. Speed it the only thing that matters. Yes, form does help, and you can go faster if your horse can do a flying lead change and a tight canter pirouette. However, as long as you do the obstacles correctly (move objects with your right hand only, enter and exit the obstacle correctly, ring the bell, etc) then however you manage to get it done in the shortest amount of time possible is how you win the phase. It counts the same as the other two phases.

The first change in the Speed round was we were required to do the double slalom first, instead of the single slalom. I could feel Ashke's confusion when I reined him around the first pole.

He could only hold the canter for a couple of poles and then we reverted to a fast trot.

Maybe one of my favorite photos of Ashke of all time.
We were galloping to the second obstacle - the three barrels.

We galloped to the front of the obstacle, I sat back and said whoa, and he slid to a stop.
We did a rollback into the obstacle.

Trotting the obstacle.

Making the turn on the second barrel.

Exited the obstacle and cantered three steps to the gate.

K said it only took us 20 seconds to do the gate.

Galloping with garroucha.

Slowing down to make sure it goes in the barrel.
Dropping it requires getting off, picking up the pole and remounting.

We did a great turn at the canter, but then trotted the second pole.

Very fast into the corridor and a very good reinback.

He sat down right between the poles.
This was the point where I was having issues breathing.

Flying lead changes in the single slalom.

Head straight up in the air.

We were cutting the poles so close, but not touching them.

We slowed enough to go onto and off of the bridge, instead of vaulting it, which is what I was afraid he was going to do.


And over. We will never be eventers.

He jumped me out of the saddle on the way back over after the Livestock pen.
We still made the turn to the reinback corridor.

He started head high, but tucked his chin and powered backward.

I don't think there was a moment where I was more proud than when he stopped and sidepassed flawlessly.

Our race for the finish line.

We finished almost a full minute faster than anyone else. 

Two things we've worked on that really helped: slide stop on whoa, and rollbacks into a gallop. Once Ashke knew it was the speed round, he really kicked it into high gear.