I really debated whether to enter the weekly rodeo this time or not. I don't want to run the legs off of Moon, but it's hard to pass up running at an arena that is only a couple of miles down the road and that has good ground. Some of the girls would debate that, but I think the ground is fine. Sometimes they get it worked a little deep for the slack and the girls complain that their times don't hold up to the performance runs, when the ground is packed down a little more...but geez...that's how rodeos are. I've never seen a horse slip in the ground, no matter how packed it gets and that's what's really important to me.
Anyway, I decided to enter and drew up in the slack. When we got there and I went to pay my entry fee, they told me they had a couple of girls draw out of the performance and I had been moved up to run in the performance instead of the slack. That left me with a good long wait, as the barrel racing is first in the slack (at 4:30pm) and the barrel racing is the 2nd to last event in the rodeo (we end up running about 9pm). Oh well, Moon is going to have to get used to lots of standing around if he is going to be a rodeo horse.
He doesn't exactly suffer, he always has hay and water available and I usually spend a lot of time grooming, massaging and checking for sore or hot spots.
Usually I find nothing, but this time I did think he seemed a bit sensitive to pressure on his left hind fetlock and it felt a bit warmer on the inside than his other one felt. With no hydrant available to cold-hose, I took a bucket of water and soaked his fetlocks, then I rubbed them down, as well as his stifles, knees and hocks with Sore No More. That took the heat out. Right before my run, I brushed his legs with a wet brush really well and then applied plenty of a Sports Liniment that also has epsom salts in it. Moon's legs felt nice and cold to the touch by the time I put his boots on.
The really bad thing about this arena is that there is no place to warm up again before the barrel racing starts. There's mostly gravel and the few areas that aren't are covered in large rocks. Since Moon is barefoot...it makes it a little tough on us. All I can do is handwalk him and work on stretches before we run.
Since this is the arena that Moon got goofy with me for the first time ever, my game plan since has been to always have Spooks with. Megan jumps on Spooks (which is why you guys are not getting any videos of these runs) and we let the horses stand side by side. When it's my turn to enter, Megan and I just ride forward like we are both going into the arena. It works perfectly. Neither horse has any inclination to get silly or overly amped about entering the arena. Moon walks right in. I haven't had to use this tactic anywhere else, but this arena is difficult to enter. The gate is on the side and when you enter to run, you have to cross the entire width of the arena to get set up for your first barrel. I don't have any problems getting Moon to do that, but he sure didn't like entering this arena the first time. Now we don't take any chances and keep Spooks handy so there should never be another problem.
Well...that is if you don't have to run over idiots standing in the open gate when you are trying to enter. (Arrgghh) I literally had to run into one kid. What the heck do I care? If you are stupid enough to stand in the middle of an open gate during the barrel racing...you are probably going to get run over. LOL I was hollering for them to get out of the way, but they looked every direction except behind them. So I just plowed Moon right into them and on through the gate. Bet they don't make that mistake again (snicker).
I was a little worried about how Moon was going to react to running in a performance. He's only ever run in 2 of them before in his life and that was 2 years ago. One was the mud pit from hell and Moon decided he was NOT running in standing water. The second was shortly after the 1st, but after he had injured the bulb of his heel on that gate incident. Neither of those runs were stellar. However, one of Moon's best qualities is that when he locks onto the barrel...I don't think he sees anything else. Light, dark, banners, music, a grandstand full of people...those things don't really seem to affect him. But he's not been around a lot of it, so...Ya never know.
He was really good about traveling straight across the arena and let me get him way over in front of the roping chutes, so when I turned him around, he would be lined up for 1st barrel. He ran good to first barrel, but was a little 'erchy' when he started his turn, he kinda sucked in and almost shouldered the barrel. He just felt a little stiff, but he collected himself well and came right around the rest of the turn...that's when the crowd started cheering and I felt him stiffen and take off like a shot. We was a little wide going into 2nd, but he turned that well enough, but as he was leaving, the crowd started cheering again and he took off like a shot again and kind of bowed out in his run to 3rd. By the time he hit 3rd he was screaming, but that was his best turn. I didn't have to worry about him wanting to slow up before the eye this time. The cheering crowd kept him moving. I don't really think he liked it and I could tell by his breathing that he had run hard...not the smooth, effortless runs we've had the last few times.
That's one more thing I am learning about Moon, when he runs effortlessly and makes his better times, he isn't even breathing hard after a run. When he's breathing hard after a run, I know it was more of an effort for him and he doesn't clock as fast.
He did run a 17.8, good enough for 4th place overall again and this time a check.
The one thing I have realized at this arena is, you cannot count on the same times week after week. Each week they set the barrel pattern differently, so while last week, a 16.8 won it (and Moon ran a 17.2), this week a 17.3 won it, a 17.5 was 2nd, a 17.7 was 3rd and Moon was 4th with a 17.8. I will say, he is consistently running 3 tenths to just shy of a 1/2 second off of the top times. I think that is pretty amazing considering just a couple weeks ago, we were running an entire second to one and a half seconds slower than the top times. I'm not really pushing Moon either. The last thing I want to do is ask to hard for to much and start having problems again. We still have some finessing of the pattern to do and I know that I don't always let Moon run to 1st as hard as he can. I am really enjoying just being able to get these smoother runs and hey, if we are consistently in the top 5, for right now, that's enough.
Anyhow...I hope you guys don't get sick of the blow-by-blows...I DO hope you get sick to death of me saying, 'Moon won money'. LOL ;-) All in all, I was pretty happy with the run. I know the 'erch' going into 1st and the bow out of 2nd cost us time, but we still placed and it was valuable experience.
I don't know how many more of these weekly rodeos I will go to, but I figured it's close, the weather is still beautiful (come July and August...it will be miserably hot) and Moon seems to do well there. If we can get to run in the perf, it's valuable rodeo experience for both of us.