I have started this post like 10 times now and keep finding myself going off on long, rambling tangents. So many times I wished I had the writing skills so many other bloggers are gifted with.
I have started a lot of horses on barrels over the years, but to be honest, find myself a little lost as to what exactly to do now that Moon is progressing into a more finished barrel horse. He's not solid by any means...but he does understand his job and really seems to be getting into it. Usually when a horse gets to this stage, I sell them. Well, Moon's not for sale. I'm finally in a place in my life where I get to go to the next level with my horse.
When things get a little wonky and I have to work on it...I'm completely comfortable with that. Fixing things! That's a comfortable area for me.
When things are working...that's where I get a little like, "Now what?"
The progession of a barrel horse means constantly evaluating what your horse needs to get focused and go in and make a smooth pattern. Training and care at home, warming up before an event, warming up before a run, what to do for them after the run, care while on the road or staying overnight....uhhhgggg the list seems to affect every single little thing you do. All of that so you can come together with your horse for a few seconds and make it all work juusssttt right.
There are a lot of talented barrel horses that never make it on the road simply because they cannot physically or mentally handle an everchanging routine. No matter how regular you try to keep things it's inevitable that you may have to haul an extra hundred miles, there are late feedings or no accomadations that suit your horse. I'm very fortunate with Moon. He could care less how far you haul him or where you stick him or how long he has to stand tied to the trailer. If that horse ever goes off of feed or water...it will be cause he is about to die...and I suspect he would still try to get that last mouthful. The downside is he is almost too stoic. I really, really have to be aware of everything so I don't overdo things. I am the one who has to up my attentiveness in this case. The little things you do suddenly take on more meaning-checking legs, really observing his demeanor, his eye, how much water he actually drinks, making sure he is full, but not overfull, etc.
There are things I pay attention too now that sort of make me giggle. Moon is getting into all of this attention. He is a horse who usually stands with his tail slightly off to the side. I have checked and checked for any sort of soreness in his back or hips that would indicate he is trying to alleve pain. Nope! I'm still going to have a chiropractor check him out. But I have found that part of the reason he does this peculiar little thing is because he constantly has a nasty sheath. So every single day part of his grooming routine is cleaning all the little nasties of his sheath. He enjoys it so much that as soon as I really get into grooming and massaging his rump...he drops down for me and will stay completely extended until I am done digging around. He is such a perv! But I wished I could get all of my geldings to do this-LOL. Frosty is like...Agghhhh, Don't touch me there!
Yep-that is definitely one of those stories only a horse person would appreciate-LOL.
But the reality is, now more than ever it's all of those little things that make such a huge difference in whether you win or not...and whether you can keep winning once you get there. It's not just things that change for the horse either. There are huge mental changes I have to make within myself. Obviously we all saw how quickly things can fall apart if the wrong decision is made in a split second(My first run at Moab). I have to work on my mental accuity as well. I have to learn to ride faster...mentally that is. My timing and cue reflexs will improve as I make more runs on Moon, as long as we can keep those runs smooth and effortless like the second day. But to get them there and keep them there, I have to make the runs. And they have to be good runs. My mom has preached to me, all my life...just because you win doesn't mean there aren't things you can work on to improve.
The move to Colorado has been good for me. I doubt I could have drug myself out of the "oh well, I'll just plink along like usual" state of mind that had become the norm for me here in SD. There was always a good and valid reason why I didn't think I needed to put more effort into shooting for the next level. I've always believed that if you were going to do something, you should try to do it well. But interestingly enough...My Honey has really been the one to help push me out of my funk. He is so supportive of my endevors and truely enjoys going with me. I find myself not only wanting to do well, because I like to do well, but because he is so proud of me. It's just such a positive feed into my own desires that it has really fueled the flames to see just how far we can go.