Thursday, June 28, 2018


We did our normal lesson last night, which incorporated all of the things we've been working on. I feel like we've hit a plateau and will be very happy when we tip over the top and start making progress again. It's not that Ashke is bad or not trying - nothing could be further from the truth. Amanda said that is how training progresses and it is normal to have to go back and forth on what you are working on.

Moooom, why are you holding the carrot waaaaayyyy over there?

Last night we worked on keep him straight in the canter by asking for a shoulder fore. We've stopped working on the half-pass because he is not holding himself straight (although I was confused and did half-pass, which is easier for him than the leg yield, by accident last night) by working on the leg yield at the canter (still a little rough) and shoulder fore at the canter on the circle without losing the outside hind leg and not pulling the inside rein.

It seems that pulling on the inside rein is something that is built into my muscle memory and very difficult to correct. I know, you are surprised.

 Surveying his kingdom

He is finally getting a decent lengthening (medium trot) while remaining in his box and I am getting so much better at not giving him four foot of rein and a ham sandwich while he does it. We also worked on adjustability in the canter on a 20 m circle, then did a couple of transitions across the middle. Toward the end of all of the canter work, Ashke got a tad bit bouncy, although certainly not to the same extent as in prior months. He also looked hard at a couple of terrain coloration differences and tried to see where Ardee was in the barn. Distracted much?

I rode through it only offering a "stay with me please" comment at the distraction. Amanda told me I was doing great and I answered by saying that someone else would probably look better on him (poor guy). She got pensive and thoughtful and said "no, I think the two of you were meant for each other". That kind of jerked my head around because as much as I love my poneh, I've always felt like he might do better with a better rider.

Always getting into something

Amanda basically said that I don't get upset when he gets bouncy (I do sometimes, but I've trying very hard not to let him distract me), or looky or acting out. She said that a lot of riders would react to that energy and it would descend to a fight, whereas, I just let it roll off of me, most of the time. I think that is a talent I developed when I was managing restaurants, and then honed as a human resource manager. You have to develop professional distance so you aren't drawn into their emotional reaction to whatever flipped their switch. It was beneficial when raising smart ass teenager, now I guess I am applying that discipline to my riding as well.

We were done after about 40 minutes, which left us both sweaty, hot and tired. The cold water rinse I gave Ashke afterwards seemed very welcome.

He has put on a little weight and a lot of muscle just behind his withers. 
He is on grass hay and water. No supps. No alfalfa.

I was lucky enough to catch some of Amanda's ride on Laz, her FEI dressage horse. And a little bit of video.

Working on piaffe and passage.

Canter half-pass

One tempis

Sunday, June 24, 2018


My ride yesterday was solid. Ashke and I were sharing the arena with Laz and K, plus Kat and L. The outdoor arena is large enough that even with water still standing at the ends, there was plenty of space for us to ride and do what we needed to do. I did a lot of canter work, focusing on keeping Ashke straight. Even at 10 in the morning it was starting to get hot and we took several walk breaks. We did a lot of transitions, then did our trot circles and leg yields, finishing up with figure 8s and canter leg yields. By that time K had taken Laz in and L was done, so I finished up with Ashke. I knew he would be anxious if left in the arena alone after having company and I wasn’t going to fight with him.

I suggested to L that we do a ride around the property. I wasn’t expecting to go far, but hoped that the walk-about could help L’s confidence and communication with Kat. Kat is a Friesan-Arab cross and L has come off of her a couple of times. The last time that happened, L broke one of the arena fence boards with her helmet (always wear a helmet. Always). She has had a bit of PTSD about riding the mare again, after that, which we can all relate to. L agreed with some trepidation and we set off down the road. Ashke was on a loose rein, but Kat was a little tense and L was worried about a rabbit spook (they have big icky teeth). We were about half way to our goal when L shouted “horses out” and I turned around to see three teenaged QH fillies charging toward us at a breakneck gallop.


Kat spun around and thought about bolting, which L redirected into a one rein spin. Ashke, meanwhile, got puffy and a bit bouncy in response to three young girls throwing themselves at him. I checked that shit quick and told him to stand. He did, losing his puffed up chest and kind of deflated into place. Kat was standing still and watching the careening babies, having decided standing was preferable to spinning, and I quickly swung off Ashke. As soon as I was off, I took a hold of Kat’s rein and held her for L to get down. Once L was on the ground, I figured things had just gotten a whole lot better. 

We moved down the road toward the girls, using Ashke and Kat as a visual block to keep them from tearing off the property. They were mostly interested in interacting with the horses in the field along the road, so that helped make it easier. K went to find the BO while I handed Ashke off to L to hold. I snagged a halter off the nearest paddock and approached the fillies.

I had met the two black fillies in the indoor about a week ago and they had been very approachable then. I got the rope around the smallest filly’s neck, and was able to hold her despite the halter having the shortest lead rope in the world. I couldn’t have been longer than about 3’. I finally wrangled her head into the halter, amidst several half-hearted protests and attempts to break free, and headed to the barn. The second black filly followed (they do turn out together a lot and our buds). Once I got them back in the indoor arena, I got the door behind me closed but then had to follow the other filly as she made beeline for the far door which was also open. I followed her, hoping to get a chance to cut her off before she could exit, but it was not to be. She wandered into the show barn, into the bathroom which has a sitting room next to it, came back out just as I got a bit in front of her and I managed to get the front door closed before she could escape back out into the world. At that point she was willing to follow me back into the indoor arena, where I managed to get the doors closed and the two of them safely penned. I released the little filly and headed back outside to collect my horse.

He, Kat and L were fine. The BO had captured the roan filly and was leading her back inside. I let her know where I had left the other two, and then collected Ashke. He had been such a good boy and didn’t so much as fuss while all of the teenaged shenanigans were going on. Thank gods, he’s matured.

I have to tell you, teach your horse a command for holding still. I use stand, but you can use whatever floats your boat. It has saved me several times and in this case helped defuse the situation that could have occurred with Kat. Even though Ashke was up and bouncy and wanted to be stallionesque, he planted his feet and didn’t move until I was off his back. And once I was off his back, he was perfect from the ground - no nonsense, no antics, just a solid, calm presence in the midst of much teenaged angst.

This horse just gets better and better.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Transitions: A Lesson in Difficulty

I had no idea riding could be hard . . . I knew it could be sweaty, long, hot, cold (depending on time of year), exhausting, demanding. All of that is true. But it is also hard. Difficult. Exacting. A huge part of learning dressage, which in my case currently, is teaching both Ashke and myself how to move shoulders and hips based on leg and seat cues, at any given gait. And keeping all of his body parts within our ever shrinking box.

Amanda explained it this way:

When you first start riding dressage you are riding down the middle of a road and your horse has the area within that road to move. Then as you advance, you move to the sidewalk. Where Ashke and I are now, we are expected to ride on a single track mountain path. Amanda at almost Grand Prix, is riding a tight rope. 

What this means, practically, is that he is not allowed to bulge a shoulder or throw out a hip. I have to provide the parameters of that space with my legs, seat and rein. It means riding every single step. And being aware of how you ride those steps.

I finally figured out why every canter-walk transition we had in our last dressage test said "on the forehand". It's because I get to the transition and stop riding. I release my hands, have already taken off my leg, and I slump in the saddle like a sack of potatoes. Ashke dumps onto his front end, because why not? I'm not supporting him any more, so why should he continue. Last night I recognized what I was doing, and instead of letting us both "dump" out of the canter, I actually rode into the transition, keeping my seat and legs active and just slowing the canter until we were slow enough to walk.

Its so damn hard.

I finally realize that mentally I see the canter-walk transitions in my test as a moment to take a break from riding because exhausted, when what I should be doing is seeing them as an active moment in the test. Which is what it is. I'm an idiot. My horse is reaching saint like attributes.

We also worked on a lot of lateral movments: shoulder in to half pass to shoulder in at the trot. (No canter half-pass until Ashke recognizes the need to keep his body straight not bent around in haunches in at the canter.) This was a moment when I could feel Ashke trying to figure out what it was I wanted and getting really wiggly. He seemed to be saying, "What the fuck do you want, woman?!" I stopped for a moment after our first attempt, patting him on the neck, and told him he was overthinking this exercise. He didn't need to try and predict what I wanted, just wait until I told him what I wanted. He was better and less tense after that. He really just wants to be right and do what I want.

Then we worked on canter leg yields. This was really a first for me and Ashke. The last time we tried any canter leg yields it was over a year ago for the Novice B test and involved maybe three steps from the quarter line to the rail, which at that point was too much for his hind end. Last night we were doing them from one side of the dressage arena to the other. My biggest thing to work on going forward is keeping my outside leg cue that asks for the canter continuing to do so even when we are yielding in that direction. Yes. That is much harder. However, Amanda says that I don't want to create a grey area where he is taking the canter cue from the rein or what we are doing. He needs to listen to the leg cue in order to work on counter canter, which we haven't tackled yet.

We did some work on developing the medium canter and then going back to the collected canter. Again, another exercise that is damn difficult. But we focused on our single track, not giving away my hands, riding each step and driving with my seat.

I was shaking with exhaustion when I led him back to the barn. He was warm but not sweaty, and pretty damn proud of himself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Climate Change

Sometimes I wish scientists had used the terminology Climate Change rather than global warming, because although the planet is warming quicker than in years past, the real risk of climate change is the unpredictability and severity of the storms we are going to experience. In addition to changing the weather systems, which also impacts our ability to forecast what we might expect, it is also going to change the shape of land on the planet. One of the things that causes those types of change is water. In 2013, we had weather that was described as a thousand year flood. Although we haven’t yet reached that level, we are seeing catastrophic hail again this year and spot flooding in areas around the greater Denver region.

Too much rain for the drainage to handle

Amanda went home for lunch and when she returned she had to drive her truck to get on the farm

The area in front of Ashke’s stall.
It’s actually pretty dry compared to earlier.

Pile of hail several hours after the storm.
This slid off the corner of the barn.

Puddles in the indoor. Water came in through the door and under the walls.

Water from under the walls.
Indoor arena will take a couple of days to dry out.

Pile of hail on the back side of the barn wing, right next to a door.
This actually caused flooding inside the barn. One of the horses had to be moved to a box stall for the evening.

Do you know there are actually new cloud formations that have been identified and named?
I wonder what it takes to create a new cloud formation after 1000 years of watching and tracking clouds?

Wall Cloud taken from the back porch of a friend’s house.
With rotation.

Dropping a tail. 
We had two that touched down today.

A fox that crossed the road in front of me on my way home.
Out racing the storm.

Some people say that climate change is natural, and they are right, However, human forced climate change is happening at a much more rapid pace than evolution can keep up with (I will not discuss evolution with anyone. It is the closest thing to scientific fact that exists. It is real.) Humans have pretty long life spans in comparison to other animals, and although we have seen insects like moths and butterflies and even trees adapt to their changing environments, humans will change much more slowly. (Although, I do personally believe that the reduction of our population growth is an indicator of evolutionary change.) That slow change will put us at risk, just as the dinosaurs were at risk when their climate changed rapidly and drastically. The saddest part, is that we are doing it to ourselves. The real risk is the unpredictability and the chaos change in the weather systems. I expect it to get worse before it gets better.

Tonight, the ponehs and peeps are all safe under cover, dry and fed. The clean up on the barn will continue tomorrow and the leaks in the roof that contributed to the water inside the walls will be addressed. We will talk about drainage and what we can do to help mitigate the mud. And some few of us might look out at the sky and wonder what we will do when the storms intensify, when the hail gets bigger, the rain comes down heavier, or there is no rain at all.

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Pause

After the show on Sunday, I gave Ashke Monday off to recover and rehydrate. He was so good at the show that rushing back into work on Monday wouldn't have accomplished anything. We both needed a break. Tuesday night, I groomed him, handwalked a little bit and then waited for the chiro to come back out. We wanted to make sure he was still in alignment after the show.

The good news is there was very little to adjust. He was still in at the L6 (chronic issue) and moving through his hips, so a slight adjustment to the SI area and a couple of ribs. That was it. He didn't even kick.

Wednesday, I got this from Amanda:

Sometimes I wonder if he has a death wish.

Somehow, he managed to roll himself into the fence and hang that leg up on the lowest wire. Its skin and hair, mostly, and he has remained sound on it, but seriously, I had just had the chiro out. I texted her the picture and we made arrangements for her to check him again on Thursday night. Because he was sound, we tacked up and took a lesson.

Amanda had watched the video and wasted no time putting us to work on addressing the transitions on the forehand. We did transitions from trot-walk-trot in shoulder in, then again at the canter-walk-canter until he was really sitting back on his downward transition. Then we did shoulder in for three strides, to leg yield for three strides and back to shoulder in for three strides at the trot and again at the canter. We trotted in a 20 m circle and worked on collection and expansion, then did the same thing at the canter. We did square corners in both directions at the canter, really focusing on moving the shoulders over while keeping the back feet in the box. Then we worked on shoulder in to half pass at the trot and again at the canter. Amanda said that is an exercise we should ride every time we are riding from now until we are no longer riding. She uses it as prep for I-A. We finished by sidepassing over a pole in the half-pass position, then continuing the turn into a turn on the haunches.

We hit every thing we needed to work on from our test, without actually riding any of the elements of the test. I was a wet, shaking noodle by the time we were done, but it felt good. I think we've upped the game a bit. None of that was easy. 

 Some pretty good scrapes

Thursday, Ashke's leg was swollen around the fetlock, although he walked out on it sound. I cold hosed for a bit, then we did the chiro adjustment. She used accupuncture needles this time and he was really locked up on the right side - neck and hip and SI. I was happy I had her out, mostly because we are trying to keep him from snowballing and getting really bad.Friday morning Ashke got teeth and sheath done. He had a pretty good point on the outside of his left molars which had created an ulcer in his cheek. I thought there must be something going on since he was eating cautiously and we've been struggling with bend. Doc said that at shots we will visually inspect, instead of just running his finger in, since he didn't realize how bad it was. Ashke was chewing with much more vigor afterwards. Additionally, Doc got the bean out and cleaned his penis fairly well (Ashke actually dropped. Shhhh, don't tell anyone.) so our yearly maintenance is complete.

 Drugged and getting the teeth floated

So, one of the things we noticed during this float, which I hadn't ever noticed before, is that the end of Ashke's tongue is split. There are two pretty significant gashes, one in the exact middle that is about an inch long, and another on the right that's probably half that. They are old, from before I got him (they would have bled prodigiously) and Doc thinks it might be from him biting it. However, the split runs from the tip up his tongue, not on the sides in. Next time we are playing in his mouth, I will get a picture.

 He and his mare sleeping in the sun together.

Friday night we tried to go camping with the dogs. We ended up in an area we were unfamiliar with, next to a dirt bike and ATV track, which is not conducive to dogs who want to eat motorcycles. Not to mention, noisy. We stayed Friday night and then headed home. The dogs got one brief run in the morning, but that was it for the weekend. It was just as well we went home, since I haven't been feeling very well. Sunday, we went down to the Pride parade and wandered the booths for a bit, then went home and napped in the chair. I have been struggling with muscle aches, a sore throat and all over feeling crappy. Sunday was cool with rain starting in the afternoon and lasting through the night, so it was a good day to mostly take it easy.

I'll bet he is a mudball by the time I see him again.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sunday Show B-Rated June 10

We tried a new format for our shows this year, in order to maximize the opportunity to ride in front of a judge, as well as, provide the opportunity for our members to maximize their points earned on a national level, while trying to keep the cost of the show down. It also increases the number of times we can show in front of a new judge (we have two new-to-us judges this year), which helps both the sport and those of us chasing points for awards or medals on the national level. The only downside is that it makes for two long days.

I woke up Sunday tired. Wary, wary tired, but with no anxiety. At least not yet. It would come but not until I was already at the show and even then it was a small fluffy kitten compared to the roaring tiger of Saturday. I got up, started stew for J's bike trip on Monday, finished making potato salad for the competitors lunches and headed for the barn. We stopped at Safeway to grab something and I ended up getting a box of cornpops for breakfast. We drove to the barn with me eating dry cornpops by the handful. Real breakfast of champions. At least it didn't upset my stomach.

Ashke, amazingly enough, had stayed clean overnight despite no sheet (too hot) and so it was a matter of pulling him out of the stall and loading him in the trailer. He was willing and interested, so loading went quick and within fifteen minutes we were pulling into Circle Star. J went to print the tests for the show, while I got Ashke completely set up at the trailer. We were the second to last ride in a group of sixteen, so I had a couple of hours to wait.

Can I tell you, Ashke was a rock star. He didn't pace or paw. He whinnied every time he saw me and was interested in what was going on around him, but didn't fret or worry. I kept his hay bag full during the day, and provided a few carrot treats through out the day to keep him eating and drinking. I took a half dose of anxiety medicine and drank a gatorade, since it was already pushing 90. During the day, I drank three big gatorade, three waters, and four or five sodas and was still dehydrated. There was one point during the day when I sat down on my tack box, in the shade, and Ashke dropped his muzzle onto my shoulder, while we both dozed in the heat.

Our dressage ride was just before eleven. I did about fifteen minutes of warm up, a lot of that at the walk, ran through the key parts of our test (trot leg yields, canter circles) and then went into the arena. Jill was incredibly consistent in her scoring and we scored the exact same number of points on test movements as the day before. I felt like I had more horse, we rode some of the stuff better, but some of the other stuff not as good. We ended up with half a point difference between day 1 and day 2.

L4 Intermediate Dressage Test

One of the things I think Ashke is doing much better with is not throwing his head up and bracing against the bit. The one thing I still need to work on is maintaining the same level of connection in my tests as I do during our practice and lesson rides. Amanda did say that it was better, but I still feel like I could step up and meet him half way. I also am struggling with the concept of collected vs medium gaits in both the trot and canter and what that is supposed to feel like. Jill's comments were consistent between the two days, and I talked to Amanda about what she said. I feel like this is one of the things that will develop as we continue to work. Ashke tried really hard for me, but I could feel that he was a bit more tired. That showed in our down transitions. Another thing to work on for future shows.

The pacing of the ride and my newly acquired mental acuity while in the test, means that I no longer feel panicked about the timing of the movements. I no longer feel off balance or rushed. I have time to mentally prepare both of us for the next movement. That is a really nice feeling. Just like with the EOH, my confidence in executing the dressage test has increased, which helps Ashke feel more positive about our ride.

I waited until the walk through for the not-Intro classes was complete before saddling Ashke and wandering to the indoor. By that time the temps were in the upper 90s and I was really hot. I had used my inhaler just before the walk-through and I was feeling jittery and nauseous at the same time. All of the riders were hosing off the horses and soaking their heads with cold spray from the hose. I joined the party and sure enough, that was what I needed. I continued to drink everything I could get inside of me and the cold water combined with fluids made me feel a lot better. Ashke and I did a minimal warm up, just mostly a check in to make sure he was listening to leg and seat, then we waited until it was our turn.

A couple of the lines were a little awkward but I thought we made good choices in our ride. He was a rock star and listened very well.

We had another bit of a wait, then the rides started. There were only five of us and Jill let each of us ride whenever we were ready. Ashke and I waited in the shade until it was our turn (we went last) and then gave it our best shot. We had the fastest time, despite feeling like we were both running on empty. 

I hope you all can see this video.

At the end of the day, he done good.

One of my goals last year was to earn a score high enough to qualify for the National Championship show. This year, I accomplished that goal. Ironically, I cannot ride in the National Championship show this year, although it is good to know I qualified. 

Ashke came home sound and mostly in alignment. I'm so proud of him.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

HCWE June 9 WE Show #1

This is a rewrite of this post, since I have no idea where the first write of this post went. Having already said all of the things that needed to be said, I am left without words. I'm sure the first post was better . . . .

Overall thoughts on the show:

First off, one of the things HCWE set out to do this year was bring in some new-to-us judges for our shows. The June shows were judged by Jill Barron, a wonderful woman from Calgary, Canada, who is an accomplished horsewoman, sweet, funny, open and smart. She was very consistent in her scoring, very positive in her comments, gave great feedback to the riders and just a genuinely nice person. It was great to have her in Colorado and we are planning on bringing her back at some point.

Second, Ashke was sound, willing and patient over the two day show. He stood at the trailer without making a fuss for close on 12 hours both days, in heat that reached almost 100 degrees. I kept plenty of hay, grain and fresh water in front of him and he ate, drank, peed and pooped like a trooper. He whinnied EVERY time he saw me, but also had no issues with be observed from a distance as I went about the other things I needed to do to make the show run smoothly.

Third, the overall show went well. There are a few things we could have tightened up and made more efficient, so going forward we will include those items. The show day was fairly long on both days and we will look at providing more shade for people in our July show. Everyone seemed to like Jill, appreciate her feedback, and they all paid attention during their course walks. The course on Saturday was the same course we used in our Championship show in 2016, which had ridden well then and did so again this past weekend. It is a course I was unable to ride in 2016, due to Ashke being injured, and looked forward to riding it in this show.

My experience over the weekend:

Friday night was busy. I had to shop for items for lunch at the show, unload food at home, stop at my barn to pick up the awards, take all of the show items (secretary boxes, computer, etc) to the show trailer at Circle Star and drop them off, then back to my barn to ride Ashke, before packing the trailer and bathing him. Our ride sucked rocks. He was stiff and sore and had no desire to do anything he was asked to do. After our second bolt in the indoor, we moved to the outdoor and practiced our test one time in the outdoor arena. It was a fight, ugly and disharmonious. He is always a pill the first ride back and I was running short of time. I ended up giving him a dose of Bute to help with the muscle pain from his adjustment on Tuesday, then spent an hour washing him. Gods, a grey horse is the bane of a righteous woman. It was warm enough that by the time I had scraped him off and walked him around the outside of the building, he was dry. I bundled him into a sheet despite it being 90 outside and prayed he would stay clean. (For the most part, he did.) By the time I got home, I was wiped out and stressed. Running on exhaustion and anxiety.

I fell asleep sometime between 11:30 and 11:45 and woke up at 3:49 am. It was not very restful. I didn't fall back asleep, but spent the time until the alarm went off dozing and riding through my test in my head. J made breakfast (french toast and bacon) while I got everything packed into the truck or car. I went upstairs to brush my teeth, gagged on the toothpaste (this has been an issue since I got pregnant) and threw up. The vomiting triggered a panic attack, which in turn triggered an asthma attack. I used my inhaler, which left me breathing but fairly vibrating with anxiety. I sent J to pick up the sandwiches for lunch, while I headed to get Ashke loaded.

He walked on the trailer easily, with only a short break weighing his options before walking on. The drive was only a little more than ten minutes away. We got there without issue, got Ashke set up with hay, grain and water, then went to help finalize the organization for the show. Once we were parked, I took some medicine for anxiety before going to help with the show management. Ashke spent his time watching the activities around him and whinnying at me whenever he saw me. I got most (but not all) of the early morning snafus straightened out and the show started.

My first and biggest mistake of the day was getting Ashke ready way to early. I had way too much time to warm up and spent about 30 minutes just walking around the outside dressage ring waiting for our ride slot. It was already in the upper eighties by 10:30 am. When we entered the dressage arena, Ashke was tired and subdued, although he did give me a solid ride. The stall guard over the opening into the dressage court was a spook option for every horse that rode that day. Ashke did pretty good at staying obedient and paying attention to me, although you can see him tilt an ear and sort of flinch away.

L4 Intermediate A Dressage Test

The comments from the judge were spot on. I need to figure out how to maintain my same level of contact within the show arena as I do during my practice rides. *I* need to stop being so afraid of contact with him, of requesting he stay on the bit, of asking for bend and collection. Plus, I need to really figure out how to do a canter-walk transition without falling on the forehand.

The biggest positive however, was the fact that we were both relaxed without anxiety. Better riding through medication.

We had several hours between the dressage and EOH course. Intro did their course walk, then we had time for lunch, and then 8 Introductory EOH rides. After the rides, we had to reset the course by changing a couple of obstacles and moving the numbers. Afterwards, there was a brief course walk and then the last four rides did EOH, followed by Speed.

I saddled Ashke prior to the course walk, since I was trying to leave enough time to warm up. Once again I misjudged the amount of time we had and we ended up waiting for a little longer than I wanted. I would have had a bit more horse, if I had timed it better.

L4 Intermediate EOH Course

I feel like I've taken a huge jump in being able to ride the course. Sometimes, a course will walk differently than it rides and I am getting pretty good at making the necessary adjustments while riding the course. Just like the dressage tests are slowing down for me so I can set up and plan before the next movement, the same thing is happening with the EOH courses. He is also less spooky on course, overall, although he recognized the spiky plants by the gate from the Expo show two years ago and wanted nothing to do with them. Overall, I thought it was a good ride.

There wasn't much of a wait until the speed trial. One of the riders DQ'd in the EOH trial and opted to scratch, so there were only three Speed rounds. You can hear me roaring in the video as we finished. I managed to give myself an asthma attack and couldn't find my inhaler in the trailer (we had the judge and four or five others trying to locate it) but was rescued by one of our other members. 


At the end of the day, Ashke did a great job of being a Working Equitation horse and wonderful partner to me. He seemed to really understand his job, was patient with all of the standing, and didn't even get fussy when we were the last trailer to leave. I was very impressed with his maturity and how well he held up his end of the deal. There was another rider in my division, so we did have competition. We won all three phases and the overall championship. This was the bridle holder we gave as Champion prize:

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Body Work

On Sunday, I participated in a dress rehearsal for the upcoming show. We get to ride in front of a L judge and one of the WE trainers, with feedback and direction to help improve our tests. I went because Ashke needs all of the exposure he can get and it's great feedback on both the dressage test and the EOH course. Other than the bend issue, he did great during our rides. I feel very confident about the show next weekend.

It was pretty obvious that Ashke was struggling to bend. My friend, CS, said she could feel where his neck was out and he seemed a little sore. We had the chiro scheduled to come in on Tuesday evening, so I knew he would be adjusted before our show. Dr K came out to the new barn at 8:30 pm last night and Ashke was the last to be looked at.

Before I had her work on him, I showed her the video from the schooling show at PVF. She watched the incident several times and determined that his SI had shifted at that moment. The why is much harder to determine: it could have been the intermittent work (warm up and then wait for the ride) or not enough warm up or a slip of his foot in the arena. (It felt like a slip, but it is impossible to really determine from the video.) Whatever happened was then complicated by the 9 hours of trailering, the small stall, the up and down nature of our trail ride at Fort Robinson, and the move. He has been through a lot in a short time.

He was way out. This was not a surprise.

She adjusted his SI, his thoracic region, lumbar and caudal vertebrae. He was also tight in the right hip. He was not happy about the adjustment to his right hip, his SI or the ribs along his right side. He kicked out a couple of times. Dr K was much happier with how easily he went back into place.

He was also out in his neck. She adjusted him there and then went over the rest of his body. 

She then placed a bunch of needles in his lumbar and SI region, which he really protested, until I reminded her that she needed to start in the front and place them moving toward his tail.

He gets the next two days off. A bath on Friday and the show over the weekend. We have another appointment scheduled for the 12th since I have the show. Dr K wants to make sure that he stays in place. I will also call her next time he has that type of slip during a ride.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

New Digs

So, when I moved into Morelli’s I really didn’t think I would ever leave. It was exactly what I wanted in a barn: small, quiet, horse care came first, open trainer policy and open discipline. But over the past year, things had changed. The focus at the barn shifted from open discipline to more focus on the Hunter/Jumper crowd, and it had expanded from a small barn (25 horses) to a larger barn (45 horses) without an expansion of the facilities. And the quality of care began to suffer. The final straw came when they got into an argument with my trainer. It was time to move on.

I took Friday off work and moved into the new barn.

Ashke on Thursday when I was there to move obstacles

He really did a number on himself

I met one of the other peeps moving to the new barn and we helped each other load all of the things. We made a run to the new barn to unload, then went back and hitched up the trailers. My peep loaded her two horses, one of which is Ashke’s sweetheart, and we said our goodbyes. I shed a few tears, not because I was leaving, but because my previous dream of staying there until Ashke died was broken. It was good while it lasted, but he needs to live where I have a say in the amount of food he is being fed. I have been struggling with his energy level for the past four months (he would be bottomed out 35 minutes into our lesson) and they haven’t been willing to feed him any more (which was not the agreement when I moved in). He hasn’t lost weight, but his body shape has changed, his poop has gotten much smaller and although I had added some steamed oats to his lunch bag the extra food wasn’t making any changes in his energy level.

The first thing I did when we arrived was the heated wash stall with warm water.
It took the better part of an hour, but he ended up clean.
The run is 48’ long and 12’ wide

The stall is 16’ x 12’ with an open front.
There is eight inches of shavings in there. Super well bedded.

He got to graze on the grass, but by today it was brown and trampled down.
He gets 3 flakes of alfalfa and 3 flakes of grass twice a day, plus 3 lbs of grain in the morning.
I’ve put him back on the Smartpak supplement (joint, salt, tri-amino) to help support his SI area.

This is the East end of the arena. If you enlarge the pic you can see the 80’ round pen in the corner.
The 80’ round pen does not even use a quarter of the indoor arena.

Middle half of the indoor.
The horse on the far side is a 16.3 Friesan. 

West end of the indoor.
It is literally 4 times the size of the indoor I have been riding in.
There is a large outdoor as well.

Stall aisle. Today, we put up chalkboards for information, and bridle hooks for the halters.

Ashke in on the end, Ardee in the run next to him, then Maggie, Kat, Earnest, Finn, Noosh and  Laz.
They all seemed happy to be in real runs.
Ashke moved from an 18’ run on a slant, to 48’ on the flat.

I’m getting pretty good about being able to park the trailer.

Amanda’s dad built the tack station that is now in the middle of the tack room.
I created blanket hangers out of pvc pipe and metal brackets, plus I added a bridle hook for my leather halter. 
I might need to do some additional organizing, but I do have my blanket box in the spare stall. 

The barn has heated water for bathing, and comes with all the perks for one flat price. The man who tends to the horses really like them and they respond to him in the same way. He refills the water buckets two or three times a day, they don’t skimp on hay and he has a ton of shavings in his stall. 

We had our first ride today and he was spooky and uncooperative to saddle, I think because Ardee was outside and he kept glimpsing her in the outdoor arena. Once I had the saddle on, he settled, probably because we joined Ardee in the outdoor arena. I think they should settle in the next week and not be so clingy to each other. It has to be hard to move from one place to another. I think as they all get comfortable with the new place, his anxiety will drop. 

In the arena, he was stiff and tight. We worked on our lateral work to loosen him up: shoulder in and haunches in at the walk and trot. Then serpentines trot to walk to trot first and then to the canter-walk-canter serpentines. We then did the 20 m circle at the medium canter then the collected canter on the 15 m circle. We finished up with some canter half-pass, which are really coming along. Tomorrow, we are going to Circle Star to do a dress rehearsal practice for the show next weekend.