Waiting for the farrier.
Playing horse games.
My barefoot farrier putting shoes on Ashke's fronts.
I decided to do front shoes for the rest of the riding season. The new pair of Back Country boots from Easycare did not work and honestly, my horse hates them. He drives his toes into the ground, he scuffs, he trips, he hates moving down single track, and despite the changes Easycare has made to the gaiters, he still fills up the heelbulb area with pebbles. I don't feel safe on them, when going over rough ground, and that unsafe feeling intensifies if we are moving on a steep downhill. I talked to my farrier and she said she could fit him with shoes, but she would take a while. I told her I didn't mind because I trusted her to trim the hoof correctly first.
Ashke with a bit of duct tape on the end of his nose.
He blew and blew, but finally stopped trying to pull the hoof away.
Fitting the shoe.
Ashke wondering what the hell J is doing in the break room.
I opted for just front shoes, since I never boot Ashke's back feet. If he shows signs of being unhappy without something on the backs, I will have the farrier come out again. So far though, he seems okay with just the fronts. I rode on Monday and he was really good for the ten minutes we rode in the arena, so we went outside and tooled around the edges of the farm until the sun set.
Last night was another lesson. Ashke was being a touch resistant and over reacting to every touch of my heel when he thought we might be cantering. Like he kicked up into one of the transitions at one point in the lesson. We started with a little trot work, doing serpentines down the arena, until he felt fairly comfortable. Then Amanda set out some cones for us to work on the 15m circle. She thinks the 15m is the hardest size to ride, since rail to rail is the 20m and the 10 is half to half the arena. She set the cones for 15m and we rode them at the trot first, and then moved to the canter.
Ashke was really reactive to my leg. He got anxious and uptight every time he thought we were going to canter. I talked to him while asking him to trot in a bendy circle and told him it was just a canter, not something he needed to get upset about. I refused to let it distract me from our goal, but was willing to work a trot circle or two to get him resettled before starting the canter again. It seemed to help. I don't know why he was so upset. But it kind of felt like he was trying to pick a fight with me to get out of cantering.
I picked up the canter at about F, started my circle at A, rode the outside of the cones first, then a second circle to the inside of the cones, and finished with a downward transition on the straight away. After we tried it the first couple of times, we alternated what we did at the end: cross the arena at a diagonal and transition down, do the serpentine along the rail and then transition down, leg yield to the rail before the transition. Basically we did whatever we could to mix it up so Ashke had to listen to me. She also had me do the two circles around the cones, then canter to the other end of the arena and do a circle there. Amanda said she could see the difference in Ashke when he had visual markers for what we were trying to do. I think the visual clues help him figure out where and what I am going to ask of him.
We cantered about half of the lesson. We did take a ten minute break while trying to figure out what kind of snake was living under one of the horse stalls. We are pretty sure it was a bull snake, but I didn't get a good look at it's head, so we can't be sure. It could have been a rattler.
After working the canter, Amanda had us go to the trot and work on slow jog versus lengthening into a working trot and then back to the slow. This was a really good exercise for us, since Ashke always wants to rush through whatever we are doing. Overall, the lesson was really awesome. Both Ashke and I were soaked with sweat when we were done and we have some stuff to work on this week. I can do the two circles, cross the arena on the diagonal, do a simple change and work the two circles on the other end of the arena. Getting him stronger at the canter is integral to improving both our dressage test and our obstacles. I would really like to be able to canter him through the obstacles at our next show, if possible. I know we can't do the slaloms, but we might be able to do the figure 8, the drums, and in between obstacles. At least cantering in between obstacles would be a great goal.
I am also going to incorporate some slow canter then lengthening into a faster canter and then back to slow. If I can do so without him throwing a fit.