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 working...it's a wonderful quality to have in a barrel horse. When things are not working...well...it'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 himself...no 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 things...you 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 bit...you 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.