A couple of years ago, I watched a girl working her horses prior to a barrel race and was rather mystified by her patterning technique. I had never seen anyone do anything like that with a barrel horse before and thought it was quite interesting.
I might have thought that it was something she had come up with to combat a problem with a specific horse, except she had 3 horses that she worked, all the same way.
Moon had a pretty good run at that competition and we were setting in 1st place for quite a while. That is until that girl came in and spanked my time. Not once, but on 2 of those horses she had been working.
I thought her runs were beautiful. Both horses worked exactly the same and had the most beautiful fluid turns. The girl rode like a banshee, but those horses worked absolutely perfect.
That patterning technique has stuck in my head since then and my dear mother, whose basement is filled with stacks of books and magazines dating back to the early 60's dug around and found an old article on a very similar patterning technique.
After many discussions with mom about my problems with Moon, she got to thinking...
#1-We know that he was dropping his shoulder and diving around 2nd and 3rd barrel.
#2-Part of the problem was that he had started flipping out his hip in anticipation of the turn and the other part was that he was not really rating deep enough.
Where a horse begins to rate his turn really depends on that particular horse's ability to rate. Some horses need to begin to rate farther back and some don't even look like they are rating at all. Moon is a horse that can and needs to rate deep into the turn to have enough momentum to carry himself on around the barrel.
But for any horse to turn the barrel, fluidly and without losing momentum...
They need to be pushing off of and rotating around the barrel from their hip. It is important for their hip to clear the barrel. Regardless of where a horse has to begin his rate, their hip needs to be coming past the barrel with each stride in their turn.
Now, if you think about that, you probably are thinking the same thing I thought when mom told me I needed to be pushing Moon's hip past the barrel...
That that would put your horse way far away from the barrel and would lose you time...A lot of time.
But then I started thinking about that patterning technique I had seen that girl doing and started doing the same technique with Moon...And it all came together.
To be continued...