Friday, September 28, 2018


Last Friday, Dr Scott injected Ashke’s left hock in both joints. He was on stall rest til Tuesday night, when he was lunged for fifteen minutes, during which time he acted the fool on the end of the rope. Wednesday night we did our lesson, cramming a lot of work into our forty-five minutes. Then on Thursday, I was lucky enough to have J at the barn loading the camper (she has a bike race this weekend) onto the truck and she came in and filmed the end of our ride. Before the videos below, Ashke and I did trot work in the serpentine and then leg yields and he felt fantastic. Smooth. Flowing.

When we moved to the canter, I was just doing big canter circles around the edges of the arena. It was obvious in our last show that we need more practice in cantering for a longer period of time. So big canter circles. In the past he has gotten ragged and rough after fifteen strides or so. The canter at that point has gotten so much more difficult to ride. This time, he was smooth and flowing and it was easy to ride.

This is the canter I have been working toward for seven years. This is what I have been expecting, not the short, hoppy, rough thing of our past. Not only that, but there were sheath sounds for the first time in any canter. Ever. J also said he wasn’t flipping his tail as much. So all signs point to having figured out where his pain is and fixing it. 

I can’t wait for my pixem to get here. And after our final show next weekend, we start working on our flying changes.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Photo Journey: Berlin Day One

Icelandair. Business Class. 

One of the churches in Berlin.
The building in front of the church with the grey squares is one of the Opera Houses in Berlin, with some of the smaller performances.

Church from the other side of the street it is on.

The date on the church was 1981-1985.

So many of the older buildings were under construction.
The city approved a facelift of most of the older buildings for Berlin’s 750 anniversary.

Gold plating.
No idea if it is real or not.

I also have no idea if the church was damaged in the war, but my assumption is that it was.

Above a random doorway.

It’s a very pretty church.

They certainly knew how to build structures hundreds of years ago.
Without modern conveyances. That are still standing.
Can’t really say the same of a lot of our modern buildings.
Course, we are an planned obsolescence society.

This was the wall of the performance house.
It said opera house on the outside, but it’s not THEE OPERA HOUSE.
That one is pretty unique.
But then, so is this one.
As far as I could tell, the grid is steel. 

In memory of the Emperor of Prussia and Germany Wilhelm Konig.
Donated by the whole German people the first Imperial Wilhelm memorial church.
During World War II, on the night of November 23, 1943, She was destroyed in an air raid.
The tower of the old church is meant to remind the Court of God, that in the years of the war, it broke over our people. 

Reminder to the Court of God

Probably one of the most unique buildings I’ve ever encountered.
Kinda artsy

One of the malls, or maybe a transportation hub, since they are kind of the same, had a wall of windows overlooking the Berlin Zoo. People could sit in what was basically a food court and watch the baboons play on the other side of the glass.

I got food at the Hard Rock Cafe, after taking the train to a stop close by, and then also picked up a hat for Hard Rock Berlin. Some day I will have something from every Hard Rock Cafe in the world. :) One of the things that was pretty interesting, is that the smell and taste in the food and drink that I had such a hard time with in Düsseldorf was not as overwhelming in Berlin. It was still underlying everything, but very subtle, and it didn’t make me sick like the last time. They have so many trees, with huge Linden forests, and some oak, chestnut and pecan (from the shape of the nut - I guessing) all throughout Berlin. It was a very pretty city and their transit system is much to be admired. I had no problem going any where I wanted in the city. Google maps did a great job of allowing me to sort by walking-train combination and got me everywhere I needed to go.

I was pretty wiped by the time I got back to the room. It was getting dark and I had been up for 30 hours by the time I crashed.

Monday, September 24, 2018

September B-Rated Show: Speed Round

All I can say about this is that he struggled to maintain form and cross cantered a couple of times. I let him do him, figuring it would minimize the stress and pain on his left hind leg.

First thing on Monday morning, I called the vet and scheduled injections for his left hock while I was in Germany. That happened on Friday morning. We will see if that makes a difference in his movement.

We finished up the show and ate lunch, then went to load the horse and discovered about a hundred yellow jackets had set up house in the horse trailer. We ended up having to drive it around to the house and then J sprayed the shit out of the inside of it with Raid hornet spray. She got stung, but Ashke was able to load without any issues and rode home safely. It was the last straw on that day.

On the Monday after, I flew to Berlin.

September B-Rated Show EOH

The Ease of Handling course was tough. There are ways to make the course a little easier: group obstacles in areas and move from area to area; minimize the number of times the rider moves from one end of the arena to another; minimize the amount of open space a rider has to ride. This course was the opposite of that. There were seven times the rider had to ride from one end of the arena to the other. So, we started at one end, rode to the other end to start our first obstacle (single slalom), then the bridge, then the other end of the arena for switch a cup, and so on. I knew going in that the long lines would be challenging for us, primarily because squirrels, and also because it is much easier to keep a horse put together when there isn’t so much arena between activities. It became pretty apparent pretty quick that it was also going to take a ton of time. We averaged fifteen minutes per ride.

In warm up, Ashke was letting me know that he was not happy with how he was feeling. He would not hold the left lead canter in the back on a circle where I was asking for bend to the left, and struggled to give me bend to the right. The people watching who know what they are looking at said that he did not want to reach with his left hind leg. (Remember when the doc asked me if we were doing both hocks even though we hadn’t talked about it? Should have seen that as a warning from the universe.) Chris said that in his leg yields, which he is excellent at, you could see he did not want to reach out with his left hind and you can also see if you watch closely in the video, he was short striding just a touch. I could feel all of that in the warm up arena. I knew there were issues and that there would be pieces of the ride I would have to manage, but he wasn’t unsound. He was just telling me his knee was bothering him. It was also an issue to sit saddled and wait for the EOH ride. I should have pulled his saddle. 

We were the last rider in EOH. I have to say, no one DQ’d at EOH for the first time in any of our shows.

The spook at the garrocha was a first in three years. Even when I approached the second time, I had my spur planted in his ribs forcing him over, but you can see he wasn’t interested in playing. And then he spooked at the bull/ring/end of the arena and got a bit bouncy going through those obstacles. Those scores were totally earned. The bump in the side pass pole was him being lazy, plus, I really need to work him on crossing consistently in the back when we are doing the poles. It really is a combination of lack of I mpulsion and his reluctance to stretch under himself that is the core of the issue. (Winter riding goals # 5564).

After this was just the speed round.

September B-Rated Show: Dressage

Sunday, September 16, was our last “home” show of 2018. It was added late in the season, because we had left the month open expecting some of our riders would prefer riding at the Andalusian World Cup in Las Vegas. This year, the AWC was not a rated show, licensed with either of the national orgs. It’s a lot of time and travel for a non-rated show. Between that and our riders opting out of the travel, we added another B-Rated show.

Who would have guessed that the expected temps for the weekend were in the mid-90’s. It was hot. And it was hot early. Ashke had zero energy. We had only nine total competitors and I went last because I was the only one riding at L4. I got on about twenty five minutes prior to my expected ride and spent a lot of time walking him to loosen him up. Remember, he got his right hock injected two weeks ago. Our last ride had been very smooth and his canter was really awesome. That was not the case on Sunday. He was stiff and didn’t want to engage his left hind. For the first time in a long time, he cross cantered on the left lead, even after a long, slow warm up in the heat. I worked him through his stretches, trying to loosen him up and he began to move better, but then he would just stop and stand still whenever given the option.

That is so not Ashke.

He didn’t feel off, like not lame, but he also didn’t feel 100%. I thought about scratching, but he really didn’t give me enough of a reason to explain to all of the show workers why I wouldn’t be riding. He finally peed in a pile of sand about five minutes before we entered the dressage court and felt like he was moving better afterwards. So, when they called my number, we went in.

The judge was tough and scored on the lower side, in my opinion.  She was consistent in her scoring and I have no complaints in how she scored me. It was fair. In watching the video, you can see he is struggling to push from behind and our transitions could be better. Unless he is willing to get his hind legs up underneath himself, those transitions will be abrupt and he will fall on his forehand. I did think our halts were better than they were scored, but I wasn’t sitting at C. I was proud of him for standing square and not resting his left hind leg. Those are huge improvements in my eyes, even if I am the only one that noticed. 

I also liked my new shirt with the vest and pants. I about died in the heat, but it would have been so much worse if I had tried riding in the jacket. 

Without further ado, here is the ride with scores and comments:

We scored half a percentage point lower than we did in our ride with Jill Barron, so although it wasn’t a better score, it was in the same ball park and for a tough judge, I was pleased. There was not enough time to really unsaddle (I thought) so I loosened the girth and waited for our turn to ride the Ease of Handling course.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


So this week has gone by pretty darn quick. As some of you might know, the NFL season kicked off last Sunday. I worked HCWE's schooling show in the morning and then raced off to the stadium for our season home opener (we won). Otherwise, it's been more of the same stuff.

Ashke has felt pretty darn good under saddle. I haven't been riding as consistently as I would like, mostly because life is pretty cray-cray right now, but the rides I have had have been very good. His canter is becoming stronger and stronger, with great rhythm and decent balance. On Monday, for the first time I can remember, it felt flowing and easy for both of us.

Gratuitous Dog Pic

Last night when I drove up the driveway to the barn, Ashke saw my car coming and bugled in welcome. It was the best thing ever. When I got out of the car, he bugled again, then followed me down the fence to his stall, whinnying at me. He walked into the stall as I came around the doorframe and whinnied again when he saw me. 

I think he might have missed me. I had been way to tired to ride on Tuesday night after my not so great day at work and food shopping. It was good for my soul. 

I got him groomed (blowing out his summer coat so the aisle was knee deep in fine white hair) and saddled. He followed me into the indoor and I stepped into the saddle to start our walk around the arena. We always ride in the same area, since it is marked off and is just a hair smaller than a 20x40 court. As we walked past the jump standards (same ones as always), he spooked at the mounting block. It was kind of right at the end of our riding area, so I got off and moved it out of the way. I was too tired to fight with him. He did cock an ear the next time we went by and tried to sidle away, so the following times, I put him on the bit with bend to the inside and told him to knock it off. He stopped.

That may be because things got so hard.

I did shoulder in and haunches in for warm up, then practiced our ten meter circle with the leg yield to the rail from our test. He was very solid for those. We did some trot circles and serpentines, then a medium trot across the diagonal in both directions. By that time he was moving fairly freely.

 They are like Lays, you can't have just one.

Amanda had us start with something along the rail (I forget what) and at my first request for a halt, he blew through my leg and hand. She had us start at the walk with me only asking from my seat. Then we moved to trot. Then we incorporated varied trot circles - going in different directions with various turns, trying to randomize it as much as possible, since he knows where he's supposed to stop in the serpentine work. Then we moved to the canter. He was much better, and Amanda reminded me to continue to work on the transitions from my seat in my practice rides. It was a good exercise to employ to get him listening to what I am asking.

We then worked on half-pass at the trot on the diagonal. We have a tendency to be too steep in our diagonal line to the rail, so I was really focused on a spot on the rail and trying to make the track we rode follow my line across the arena. It was much more effective then staring at the back of his head. Who knew? We then added in the very difficult task of starting in half-pass then moving to shoulder in without changing our bend.

Ashke was like "oh, hell no!" 

See, he likes to know what is expected of him. He gets predictive and tries to hard to do whatever he imagines he should be doing. It is always fun to break him out of that anticipation by changing the activity. He threw his hip, he tried to argue that we should continue on our path since he is the best at half-pass. He tried everything from throwing his hip, to barging against my leg, to pinning his ears at me. It was pretty hilarious. I finally figured out if I changed my focus from the rail to the end of the arena, he was able to continue forward without losing his bend. It's amazing when something so simple like changing where you are looking or weighing your seat differently or shifting focus can make such an impact on your performance.

 Butt, Mooooom.

We then did it at the canter, which was difficult until I corrected how much shoulder in we should be doing. Once it was a little less, he wasn't fighting his body to move forward and then it was easy. 

After our walk break, we worked on the medium trot across the diagonal and me properly setting him up for it (square corners at every turn). He nailed that. We did a couple of turns on the haunches where he actually kept his impulsion better than he has in the past. We finished off the ride with the medium canter circle to collected canter circle. He did great but I was really wiped out by the end.

He got rinsed, since we are in the middle of an Indian summer, and then tucked away with grain and carrots.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Full Week

 Evening Sky at the Barn

 Climate Change gives us some spectacular clouds

 New kicks

 He was so drugged he almost fell on his face

 Prepping the Right Hock

 Doc said he's only had two horses fall forward, but I should move to the side to be safe.


 Skittle and her stuffy

 Vedauwoo hammock camping
Did not work as advertised.
I need a different hammock and trees not over rocks
Slept three adults and two dogs in the truck camper

Tristan's new tent sans Tristan

 Their feets were sore and they didn't want to dog any more


 Pups butts

 A soft place to rest

 Skittle was tired of running on granite

 Nice little hollow with a stone pillow

 A boy and his dog


 Them too. They have no real concept of height.

 Back side drop into a pile of stone

 He got to the top

 More tops

It took almost fifteen minutes for him to overcome his fear, at total and complete destruction of his genital area if he missed, to make the leap.

Carrying the Skittle dog back to camp

Tonight will be my first ride since the injections. He was moving very well on Monday and Amanda said he felt awesome for her last night.