Right now, as much as anything Moon is in serious need of conditioning. A lot of horses can stay pretty correct in how they move as long as they are in good body weight. Not too fat that it makes it difficult for them too move or be agile. And not too trim, where they might loose strength.
Moon is at a great body weight...
He looks fit, but full. Too bad pictures are so deceiving.
In reality, Moon is a horse who is naturally prone to want to drag himself along with his frontend rather than push off from the hindquarter. So it doesn't take very long for a lot of his hindquarter strength to dissipate if he is not rode regularly and specifically conditioned to use his hindquarters. Hence his propensity to drop his shoulders in his turns and flip out his hindquarters like he did in his last run.
One thing, besides regular riding that I think Moon is in need of is a chiropractic adjustment. So I am on the hunt again for one of those. Hopefully, going to some barrel racings and talking to some of the locals that this time I will be able to find one who comes with recommendations.
Since there is limited time to bring his condition level up, I am focusing more on walking exercise, a bit of trotting and limited loping. Too many times I have seen people overwork their horses with only a few days before competition and the result is usually a sore and pissy horse. I don't want Moon to ever start dreading running the barrels by doing that to him.
I can't imagine having to walk endless circles in the arena. Both of us would be bored stiff in less than 30 minutes.
Luckily for me, right across the road are several large fields-corn, grass and alfalfa. Everything is irrigated in this area, so they are all surrounded by irrigation access roads. That's where I'm spending my walking time...
I finally took the time to drive up north and just three miles away are the Adobe Mounds...
Tens of Thousands of acres of wide open land, rolling hills and deep ravines. I can ride all the way to those mountains if I want too.
Perfect! Now that's the kind of land that is ideal for conditioning a horse without overworking them. I can lope a few circles out there, go up and down hills and walk forever. I'll be able to exercise both Moon and Frosty at the same time by riding one and ponying the other. Frosty could certainly use the open miles too. Besides the fact that he is seriously tubby right now.
I've been doing a lot of reading and have been talking to my mom about the specific conditioning requirements of a barrel horse. It's a lot different working with a horse that has reached Moon's level than it is with a greenie. Those greenie's you work more on patterning. Competitive horses it's less about the pattern and more about condition. New realm for me! But I'll explain more in another post. I'm still formulating it all.;)