This morning Megan was entered in the 4-H rodeo here in town. She was only entered in the barrels. She was going to use Moon. But things changed pretty quickly yesterday morning.
My little cowgirl got up yesterday morning and got me up too. She was anxious to get to the arena and give Moon a whirl around the barrels. And boy did he give her a whirl.
The last time Megan ran barrels on Moon was 2 years ago when we were just starting him. We would go to playdays to get some experience on the horses and because they were fun. Moon was still in his "lope around the barrels" phase. Megan likes that phase. She is awesome at that phase.
But since that time-Moon has progressed. He no longer lopes around the barrels. He is turning the barrels-even at slow speeds. He knows what his job is and he loves it.
Megan is still in a slower gear and Moon is just too much. After trying a couple of times, I could tell she was frustrated and Moon was starting to do his flippy thing with his hind quarters again. So I got on and made a little run on him to make sure he got back to business.
Now to me-Moon is just the easiest thing ever to ride around the barrels. He is pretty much on auto pilot and I can just sit and lift around the barrels. I know he is going to turn the barrel and all I have to do is ride to the pocket and leave him alone. I trust him.
Megan-not so much. She is still trying to "train" on him and he doesn't need it. It causes problems. I was very, VERY proud of my daughter when she straight up told me that Moon's speed scared her. It takes a lot of guts to say "this is too much".
So we went to plan B - this morning Megan used Rip at the rodeo. Now we have only loped Rip around the barrels a couple of times but he does know the pattern and he is showing good form. Much to my mother's dismay, Megan and Rip made a nice, slow lope around the barrel pattern.
Personally, I have no problem with this. Megan was entered and it cost nothing for her to ride to the arena and get to do this. My mother does not believe in going unless you are there to win. But she came to watch anyway and left a little more impressed that Megan and Rip made a nice pattern. She also gave the thumbs up to start bringing horses to town so Megan can get a lot more experience loping horses and see if we can get her to start building some speed into her runs.
I know Megan would like to be competitive at the rodeos-but you know what? I'm not one bit worried about it. She is very, very good at patterning horses and that is a skill that is harder to learn than getting on and running full speed. That being said-I noticed a couple of things in the pictures that we need to work on. She doesn't do this when we are practicing so it must be a competition thing. So many people(myself included-until I finally figured it out) think that competing is different than practice. It's not. If you are making good practice runs, whatever you are doing then you must do during a competition.
See how she is sort of hunched forward? and her hands are down by Rip's neck? Ideally, she should be sitting straighter. Her inside hand needs to come up to lift and balance the horse around the barrel. In the first picture you can sort of see what happens when your hand drops too much. Rip's shoulder is wanting to "leave" the turn. Sitting back, lifting the hand and using the outside leg to keep the shoulder in the turn, especially at this point in the turn on 2nd. You really have to hold the turn on 2nd for an extra stride so your horse won't blow away from the barrel too soon. In the 2nd picture you can see what happens when that shoulder drifts. Rip went into the pocket at the right spot but he drifted out on the back side, causing him to come out wide.
You can really see the difference in his body position when you compare the two sets of pictures.
Seeing things like this in pictures or on a video is so helpful and considering Rip is basically pleasure loping the pattern, Megan will learn something from it and there is no damage to the horse. All in all-a win, win situation. Especially for me-I got my barrel horse all to myself this year.
Now I just gotta find some barrel races to go to...