Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mundane

There just isn't much to report right now. LOL. Outside of firing yet another farrier...Life is just pretty mundane around here.

Riding, riding, riding.

My last string of rodeos will start this weekend and I'm excited again. It may not last, but I'll take it when I can get it. LOL.

Beretta will finally go to the court of the magnificent Firewater Fooler the first week in May. I have already put in my order for a buckskin filly out of the cross. Beretta and I have discussed my desire for this at length. ;-)

I'm ready to go home though. I miss my husband. I miss...well, pretty much everything by now. It was so good to be home those few days and I hated to leave. I mean, really hated to leave. It's so weird, one moment I am quit content in Arizona and happy to have the luxury of a winter home...and then...I am just done. Each day stretches out for an eternity. I'm literally counting the days til I can go home. Did I mention I miss my husband? I think he is feeling it too. It's all well and good for a little while, we have lived apart the majority of our relationship...but at a certain point...

I was going to wait to start moving horses home until after my last rodeo down here, but I am rethinking that. I may load up my stuff and take 3 horses home before the last rodeo, so that when the last rodeo comes, I can just take the last 4 home in one trip. MH and I will have to come back down, load up his toys, get my little rig and be quit of AZ until next winter.

I hardly know what to do when I do get home though. I haven't decided if I want to pursue rodeoing as strenuously as I tried to last year, or if I just want to hang out and hit the local jackpots. After all of this time and effort to get Frosty going, and Shooter, and Jet...I hate to lose that momentum with them. I guess these last 3 rodeos will tell me if it's worth trying to pursue rodeoing hard or just hit a few here and there and focus on these others. Shooter should be ready to start exhibitioning sometime in June, if he keeps coming along as nicely as he has been. Jet is trying so valiantly to become a good horse, although I have no idea on a time-frame on him. I mean, we have barely gotten a couple lope strides at a time going right now. Which is almost a freaking miracle considering what I started with, but still quite a ways away from where he needs to get too. I am hoping that by July he will be well-broke enough and patterned to the extent that I can exhibition him. Or, maybe that hunter/jumper gal really did like him enough that if he is riding well, he might find a better calling in life. I don't know yet. I'm looking forward to hauling LJ and just riding him around at events....and letting everyone exclaim over what a beautiful horse he is....cause it makes no sense to have one as pretty as him and not show him off, right? :-D

I guess I'd be content either way. If Moon and I can hit a lick...we'll do the rodeo thing. If is still doesn't come together, I'll be plumb happy to stay closer to home and continue to enjoy bringing ALL of my horses along. All that really matters to me anymore is that I am actually enjoying what I do. It was so miserable for so long and I don't want to do that anymore. It really shouldn't be as difficult as it has been. There are always difficulties...tough times and cold patches are the norm in barrel racing...but it shouldn't be a non-stop struggle with one particular horse and I'm simply not going to let it be that way anymore.

Not that I discount the valuableness of the rodeoing I did do last year. There are some places I have no intention of going back to this year and a few places I really liked that I might hit just because they were  nice set-ups and there are a few places that I picked out that I always thought it would be cool to say I ran at. Historic type places, ya know. Prescott over the 4th of July for sure this year. :-). Maybe Cheyenne, maybe Pendleton. I mean, there are some really cool rodeos out there and it might be fun to just get in there and make a run, just to say I did...Or so I'll know the ins and the outs for next time.

I've been wanting to hit one of the big jackpots they have at the South Point in Las Vegas for a couple of years now and never have made it to any. But this year, I am going to. I entered the NBHA Las Vegas Super Show at is at the end of May. It's perfect timing. MH is on days off and his birthday is that week...And it's Las Vegas...And barrel racing. It just doesn't get any better than that. (2 thumbs up). After that...the rest of the year is just 'let's see how it goes'...And I am completely happy with that.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vetted

Hahaha-I go so excited about posting the positive conclusion to this clinic, that I skipped the post I wrote about how Moon worked on the barrel pattern on Day One of the clinic. If you are so inclined, scroll down to the post called The Pattern. It was a whole lot different than the 2nd day. LOL

This trip back to Colorado was multi-functioned. I have been trying to get back here for like a month now. First I lost a tire and rim and had hell getting the right replacement rim for my trailer, then the weather got crappy in Colorado and I had no intention of coming back until after the Dick Pieper clinic and right up until Thursday, the Ronny Clampitt clinic was booked full. At the last minute someone had to cancel, so I jumped on coming home a couple days early. 

Frenchy is getting along in her pregnancy and I don't like hauling a mare that is too close to foaling. I mean, she isn't due until the first week of June, but there is a lot invested into Mz. Thang already...Financially and emotionally. I am not taking any chances with her or that CS Flashlight baby she is baking for me. :-). So getting her home and settled into the pasture well before her due date was imperative.

I also needed to get horses into the vet. Moon and Jet got their injections updated. Moon's right hock is still not fused. Darn!! Basically, the vet said that all he absolutely needed was the right hock and the left stifle done, but you know...It doesn't really make sense to not keep things evened out on him, so we did both sides, in both areas. I hope that hock fuses this time. :-/. That may eliminate the need for ANY injections in him because the vet thinks the reason Moon is over-using his left stifle is due to compensation. (sigh)...It's always a diagonal thing with horses.

Doc said that Jet's hocks are fusing. Yay!! The horse is only 9, but as 'off' as his hocks are, the quicker they fuse, the better. This may be the last round of stifle injections the horse will need for awhile. He's traveling so much better now and may actually be getting strong enough over the topline and developing an even enough musculature that he won't need re-injected until much farther into his training...if that. I need to focus on bringing Jet's training on. I have someone who is interested in him as a hunter/jumper/english prospect and she seems like she would be a good fit for the horse. She saw him over the weekend and thought he was 'just lovely'.

Frosty checked out as I expected...Dry hock joints. Doc didn't even have to flex test him. He took one look at his hocks and pointed out the beginnings of lumps and bumps, particularly on the inside of his right hind. I can see them clearly when he points them out, but obviously I don't have his experienced eye. I just knew the horse didn't feel right and was getting sore. Doc said they aren't starting to fuse yet, but are dry enough to cause him some discomfort. We didn't go any farther with him than that this time around, although the vet was inclined to think that Frosty's tendency to want to buck coming out of the barrel is a stifle thing. He felt and moved Frosty's stifles though and didn't feel any fluid on the stifle or hesitancy in their range of motion, so it could be that IF he is experiencing some stifle soreness it might be due to compensation for sore hocks. Doc said to try putting him on a joint supplement, since he handled the loading dose of the I.M. glucosamine well and see how he does over the next month. It will take 2 weeks for the injections to fully set in and then I can ask him to run again. If after a month and he is still not wanting to power out of the turns without bucking...we may have to delve a little deeper. I sure hope that it isn't his hips that are the problem, but Doc reassured me that too can be remedied through alternative means. He was telling me of an I.V. concoction of glucosamine and HA that is available now and if the hock injections aren't the ticket, we may go that route. I sure want this big yellow horse to be able to run. I just love, love, love the way he feels on the pattern. He's definitely my kind of horse and his turns are just so fluid and easy to ride.

I trotted out my list of questions to the vet...all of the stuff I had been saving up to ask him. ;-). One of those things was about Moon's breathing. With it getting hot in AZ, I can tell that it is already affecting Moon a little bit and was wondering if there was anything I could give him that was NOT steroidal in nature. Moon's immune system is not strong...which is common in respiratory-challenged horses, and steroids weaken the immune system more. So that kind of stuff is completely out for Moon. The vet suggested Ventipulmin Syrup. It's made from clenbuterol HCl, which is what is in inhalers used by asthmatics. We was talking about any potential side affects...such as making a horse H.O.T., which some bronchial dialators can do and he was telling me that when his wife gives it to her horse, he actually gets calmer.

Blink!! Blink, blink!!!

Ooohhhhh....

It's possible that some of Moon's gate anxieties are coming from his breathing...or inability to breath sufficiently. That very well might be why the gate issue thing is intermittent. When the weather is right and Moon can air up properly, those might be the days when he is totally fine at the gate and the days when he wants to lose his mind might be due to the fact that he cannot air up and gets to feeling a little panicky beforehand. Generally I can judge how well he is getting his air by how he coughs during warm-up. When his coughs are dry and tight...He's not getting enough air. When they sound wet and mucusy...As odd as it sounds...That's a good thing. There is no curing Moon's cough, so if he's not coughing at all...That is not good. The Oxy-Boost has helped him a lot over these last couple of years, but after a few days, he also gets higher than a kite...so I'm always trying gauge his coughs to determine how many days in advance I should start giving Moon the Oxy-Boost, without amping him up. I've gotten pretty good at it, but sometimes it's still hit or miss. This way, I can give Moon the Oxy-Boost just two days in advance, which helps open him up and then 4-5 hours before I run him I can give him 5cc's of the Ventipulmin Syrup, which will completely open his airways...and he won't get hot(ter) on me. This could make a huge difference for my Main Man. I sure hope so.

Now, it's back to AZ for a few more weeks and a few more rodeos. I'm really excited to work on Moon and see how Frosty comes around. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Full Effect

At the indoor I decided to treat the situation exactly like as if I was at a barrel race. I wanted Ronny to get the full effect of Moon in competitive mode....and me too. The problems we experience aren't necessarily from all of the other stuff I have talked about...A lot of it is mental. I try so hard to be calm and to visualize the perfect run over and over before I run. But there is no consistency with my follow through once I am past the 1st barrel. After Ronny mentioned the breathing thing, I thought about that and I'm sure he is correct. I'm almost always completely comfortable running Moon to the 1st barrel, after that...

It's a coin toss. LOL.

I honestly think Moon holds his breath too. I've long noticed that when Moon and I have a good run, he is never breathing hard afterward. He comes out, takes a breath and that's it. You would never know he just ran a race. Here lately though, he has been breathing heavy and even shaking in the stifles after a run. At first I thought it was from a condition thing and I have been focusing on conditioning his stifles a little more. Now?... I'm not so sure it had anything to do with the condition aspect of it. I think Moon is holding his breath and he's shaky afterward because his muscles are depleted of oxygen.

I was telling Ronny this that morning and he was like, 'Man, you really think about this stuff don't you?'. But he didn't have that tone that implied that I was OVER-thinking it all. He said, 'I will have to remember to look for that in the horse's as well as the riders'.

Another thing we talked about was the use of different pieces of tack...I should probably mention here that I have been working Moon on the pattern with a snaffle bit and a much shortened tie-down. Way shorter of a tie-down than I have ever used on him before. One of the things I have always noticed about Moon (and told to ignore) was the way he 'turtles' his neck when he gets excited. Turtling is when a horse sucks their neck back at the base and even if/when they break over at the poll, they are NOT getting soft in the face. It's an evasive measure and from what I have noticed is also related to conformation. A long-necked horse, when they want to evade pressure...They 'giraffe' their neck...Stretching their neck out and pointing their nose to the sky. Horses with shorter, more base-heavy necks...Well, they 'turtle'. They simply suck that neck in, brace on the bottom of their neck and  the jaw gets stiff. To me, a stiff jaw reflects a resistant mind. I was explaining this to Ronny, not that he had mentioned anything about me using a tie-down on Moon, but I wanted to see if he thought my reasoning was sound. He did and we talked quite a bit about how many horses we have watched run that would have truly benefited from the addition of a tie-down.

The use of the curb bit on Moon was mostly for my benefit. I needed to feel like I had some sort of control over this horse during a run and it served that purpose well. I can actually feel Moon slowing down when I get to pulling on him and that fact alone has helped restore my confidence during competition runs and I am much more willing to let go of him. Lack of feeling like I had any control is what was causing those awful panic attacks I was getting. The one thing I have long felt in Moon was the way he would root his nose out and get stiff in the jaw right when he was setting into a turn. He gets in front of my hand and once I felt him do that...I'd panic and fight to get some control back. I tried explaining this feeling to Ed Wright and he brushed it off and told me to simply get my butt up there and ride. Well, that hasn't worked for me. I was telling Ronny about the getting in front of my hand thing and stiffened jaw and he said, 'Well, of course that would cause feelings of uncomfortableness/panic and although most people don't recognize THAT is why they start pulling on the horse...It's almost always the reason they do'.

The nicest thing about Ronny was, he didn't scoff at what people said they thought was happening. He acknowledged it and then showed us how to work through it. His whole premise is...This is a partnership deal and you and your horse need to learn to work together.

While warming up, he watched Moon closely. I tried to keep things as close to what I usually do, but did spend some time trying to shut Moon off here and there as we warmed up. Moon was definitely closer to his usual competition mode, but a little uncertain if he should be or not. He wasn't really getting excited, but he refused to shut off the way he had the day before. Ronny noticed that. I had told him to watch how observant Moon was to everything, even though he may not necessarily react. Moon simply sizes up the situation and wants to decide if he should or shouldn't be getting nervous. And Ronny laughed and laughed when I told him how Moon could be sound asleep, but the instant he heard my name announced...He immediately went into competition mode. Ronny said he didn't believe that happened to horses for for the longest time. Like so many others he believed that the rider must be doing something to cause the horse to suddenly get anxious. Then he had a horse that did the very same thing, now he fully recognizes that a horse is fully capable of recognizing their owners names being called in the line-up.

I let one girl make a run before me, so Moon could see that there was indeed going to be a run involved here. The whole time he was watching her make her run, I kept stroking his mane and just seeing if I could get him to shut off. He didn't until he watched Ronny talking to the girl who had just finished making her run for several minutes. Then he must have decided that this really wasn't a competition and he dropped his head, moved his jaw and licked his lips a little bit. When Ronny called for us to make our run...Moon popped right back into mode.

It was not a good run...

Ater the first run, Ronny acknowledged, 'Yea, that's not the same horse that I saw yesterday. But you aren't the same either. But...(he continued) that is relatively easy to fix' (Whewwww...That's nice to know). Ronny asked me how much I exhibition Moon and I said, 'Almost never. I have been doing a little exhibitioning to work on his gate anxieties, but otherwise it's been a couple years since I have actually exhibitioned him before a run. At that point, Ronny simply reminded me to keep my chin pointed at Moon's poll, keep my hands down, relax my death grip on the reins and b.r.e.a.t.h.!!! He said, Go Again. 

So we did...

It was a lot better and we didn't tip the 2nd or 3rd barrel. Actually Moon didn't want to get anywhere near the 3rd barrel. LOL.  

After that run, Ronny said, 'Come here'...So I rode back over to let him tell me what he thought. I was thinking, 'Man, his first barrel was all wonky and he was so wide going into 3rd...', but Ronny said, 'Now...That's the way you need to ride that horse every time. All of that other stuff will smooth out, the more relaxed you get and the more relaxed he gets'. I said, 'Well, that's great, but since I cannot seem to get it right the first time and I can't get Moon to feel this way unless he thinks it's a competition, how do I get used to riding him in competition mode?'. Ronny said, 'I want you to use your exhibition time. Don't go there with the intent to work on gate issues, go there with the intent to train yourself to get used to how this horse feels when he is ready to work'. 

The next girl ran and while Ronny was talking to her, I mulled over what he had said. I took the time to trot Moon through the pattern, setting him down and waiting for him to relax, then moving on, just like I had the day before. By the time I finished, Ronny was ready for the next girl and I just went over and sat by him. I figured it was good for Moon to just hang out in the arena until he completely shut off (which he had not done yet) and I wanted to make sure I understood Ronny. I took him to mean, That instead of going in and doing all slow work with Moon, what I should do is just go in and make a run. If it went good, then just do a cool-off slow pattern and call it a thing. At least that was what I was hoping he meant, 'cause I could see the value in that. I cannot always count on Moon being totally relaxed in a run, so instead of just focusing on getting him that way, I needed to learn how to ride him better when he wasn't the way I want him to be. 

When Ronny had a minute I asked him if that is what he was thinking and he smiled, 'You're a pretty smart cookie.' he said, 'That's exactly what I meant. You need to learn to ride this horse's competition mode the first run, every time. That doesn't mean go out and do 3 slow 'warm-up' patterns, that means trying to make that first run count. If you don't get it the first time, then give him a minute to air up and then come right back around and make the 2nd run count. THEN go to your slow work, so your horse leaves with a clear conscious and a quiet mind'. 

THAT actually made perfect sense to me. I had thought about doing something similar to that previously, but I wasn't sure if that was an appropriate tactic to take with a horse that was having gate anxiety. I really think that most of Moon's gate anxiety comes from the fact he KNOWS things are not going well in the competition pen and even though I don't get after him for it, the tension we create trying to put a run together has not abated. You would think that as much as I have run Moon, I would have been able to create some muscle memory for how he feels...but I think knowing there is an entry fee on the line...and knowing we can't come back and fix it is just too much pressure for me. I need to work on my own mental aspects, as well as getting Moon over his. We need to work on developing our partnership.

It's funny how my little affirmation cards I make and carry have changed. Now I have 2 new ones; Focus my chin on his poll and Breath. 

Ronny said one of the coolest things about Moon...And yet one of the most difficult things to make happen is the fact that he is so well-patterned and cognitive of what he is supposed to do that I really don't have to cue him to do anything. He said with a horse like this, just stay centered (which is what focusing on lining your chin up with your horse's poll helps you do) and then just let him work. No more of thinking about trying to shape him, lift him, rate him...None of that. Just drive him straight forward and hold on for the turns. LOL. I think I can learn to do that. ;-)