Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day

A couple of weeks off of competition is at least bringing some things to light with Moon.
We have been working at variable speeds on the pattern and at the risk of being completely monotonous about the subject, I thought I would share the trouble spots that I found and am working on.
It's always interesting when you run into problems, because the most obvious problem is usually only the result of something that precursors it.
In Moon's case, his biggest problem is that he is rushing the barrels and diving into them.
Moon is a horse with a one-track mind. He knows his job is to turn those barrels and by god he is going to make that turn. When things are's a wonderful quality to have in a barrel horse. When things are not's nice to know that your horse is going to turn, but it makes it hard to help them because regardless of how out of whack their position is...they are going to turn and there is little you can do to control them.
So, I had to do a little back tracking to find where Moon was losing his body position. That is the spot that needs fixed.
It didn't really take much to find that spot. Moon is cheating on his rate. Instead of running to his rate spot, lifting his back and bringing his inside hind leg up to balance on and push off of, Moon is running to his rate spot and pushing his shoulder, ribcage and hip out. This allows him to fade out of his true pocket and just for fun, he sometimes flips his lead out as well.
All in all, it makes it exceedingly easy for him to drop that shoulder and dive into the barrel and nearly impossible for me to lift or correct him once he gets into that position. Attempts to get him to lift and set for the rate, are resulting in him simply flipping into the other lead.
Now, if Moon was any less of an athletic horse, a person might be able to still get him around the barrel without hitting it, even though it is an incorrect turn. But no, he is and always has been able to turn back through matter how out of position he is. It's kind of a freaky, weird ability and not one that is very useful-LOL. It makes keeping this horse correct a lot more technical and trying than most horses.
Take into Moon's one-track mind and since he thinks this is the way to do can imagine how much fun it has been to get him to actually think about doing it differently. He has gotten those spankings I warned might come. Just enough to snap him out of his...I'm going to do it MY way...line of thinking and get him to start thinking about paying attention to what I am asking. I think we are back on track because this morning Moon was at least making more of an attempt to feel for my cues.
In the interest of clarity, I want to make sure that anyone who reads this understands that repeatedly spanking a horse for making deliberate mistakes when turning a barrel is NOT a training tool. I'm pretty sure my regular readers understand this, but I know that there are a lot of people who do read and do not comment. Spanking is really only a option for a horse that has at some point been capable of running a nice pattern and for some reason has started making the same mistake over and over. Once the rider has eliminated themselves as the source of the mistake and taken the time to evaluate exactly where the problem is AND has taken the time to show the horse the correct way to do things....if the horse insists on continuing making the mistake, a good quick over and under very often gets their attention and makes them realize that they need to pay attention to the rider. If you do find yourself in a position where you think your horse needs spanked-make it quick, make it effective and DO NOT hold a grudge. Get the horse's attention and move directly on.
I do not use spurs for this as the only affect they seem to have is to make a horse pissy. I have no issues with riding with spurs, I just don't use them in that way. Yanking on the mouth also not a good option. When a horse is in the correct body position and using themselves properly, your bit is for balancing and assisting in the follow-through. I'm not even going to pretend that ALL horses are light-mouthed or responsive during a competitive run, so refuse to get involved in the 'great snaffle debate'. The only opinion I have on what someone runs their horse with is...if you have to keep moving to a bigger and bigger do not have a mouth problem, you have a body position/rate problem.
Okay, so that got longer than I anticipated...the next post will be about fixing the problems Moon is having.
And no, the picture has nothing to do with anything I was just talking about - LOL. Don't know why I put it in...sometimes these posts take on a life of their own when I start writing.


Leah Fry said...

I scared myself — I actually understood what you were talking about. I need a hug.

Anonymous said...

I agree, a good "wake up call" is needed sometimes to break a pattern of behavior! I'd much rather give a quick spanking and get the horse's attention than keep pushing pulling nagging with no result ecept giving the horse maore practice at doing things wrong. ~ spotz58

Rising Rainbow said...

Funny, I guess from what you were saying Moon was doing in the other posts, what you say now is exactly as I saw it in my mind. You gotta love that "extra" athletic horse that really makes you think. I think that's why my journey with Legs has been so rewarding. He can do things incorrectly another horse could never accomplish. Keeps me on my toes.

LOL you are so right about posts sometimes taking on a life of their own. I'm not sure if I like that or if it makes me crazy but either way, it happens to me a lot.

fernvalley01 said...

The super talented/athletic ones are a treat they can do what we think is impossible and make it look easy .Now you have a starting point to get that fella back on track.

Vaquerogirl said...

When a reining horse begins to drop a shoulder we have a few tools in our tool box to help fix that problem.
1. Counter canter. Hold them on the 'outside' lead, tip their noses to the outside and hold them with your leg through the turn, it won't be pretty,but if you go slow, it is effective. I'd suggest you do a lot of counter bending outside the canter in warm up. It solves a lot of problems, and makes them think about where that shoulder is and what they are going to do about not falling over ( they won't but it feels like it sometimes)
2.Backing circles. Going foreward on a circle at the trot or lope, as soon as you feel them drop that shoulder pull them to the ground(not jerking) and stop. Make the horse pivot on the outside leg(away from the curve of the circle, and then back the circle. At first go four or five steps, then step foreward, make the pivot again so you are going the original direction, and lope or trot off. This has been very effective for getting a sour horses attention and they soon figure out not to drop that shoulder.
3. Daisy chain. Lope or trot a big circle, as soon as the horse drops a shoulder, change direction and cut across the circle to the other side, at the other side, make a shrp turn back onto the circle.Continue loping until you feel them drop the shoulder and cut across the arena again. I usually end up making a pattern like a daisy.
Hope these help without spanking or spurring or jerking. Once you have consistently gotten Moons shoulder and ribs, the rest should be easy.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

VG-Good exercises.

A person does not ever want to counter-canter a barrel horse around the barrel. I realize you are not saying to do that, but I thought that should be clarified.

Moon has almost no issues in his normal 'training' time. Oh, he likes to get a little heavy hear and there, but that is usually quickly remedied.

There are specific exercises to work on within the barrel pattern that work on reminding a horse to keep his shoulder up. Regular training exercises do not usually translate once you start to have problems in the run.

GoLightly said...

"DO NOT hold a grudge".

Brilliant, and so true. Emotions have no place in training.

Well, except happiness:)

Vaquerogirl said...

BEC- I didn't mean around barrels, that would be almost impossible anyway.
Counter canters, or trotting counter circles, just makes them think about what you are doing up there! And I only use the counter cantering ( the higher rate of speed- but not a run obviously) very judiciously! It can injure a horse if not done properly or done too fast! I should have made that more clear in my post, but I know I am talking to one accomplished horsewoman so I just omit the obvious details sometimes!
Hope things are going better!
My little brat has been better since I spanked him a few weeks ago, but as you know that can all change in a second!
Have a happy forth of July!