We had some really nice days, so Megan and I rode...and then the weather changed. It was mostly rain, a dusting of snow. More moisture in 24 hours than we have had all winter. So much for riding for the last few days.
I had pretty much just left Moon alone while he was healing up and have been focusing on Frosty, but there is a cutting clinic coming up at the end of the month and Megan asked if she could go. I thought Moon would be the horse for her to ride, as he is pretty good on cattle and she will be able to focus on listening to the instructor. I am taking Frosty. That could be real interesting for me as one of Frosty's big fears is c.a.t.t.l.e., Lord knows why, he grew up on a cattle ranch, but there is no more babying the big buckskin. He IS going to have to try to turn into the horse I think he is.
We started riding Moon again. So far, so good.
Sometimes I feel like I am repeating myself on here...same story...new year...
I have been working very hard at perfecting the Ed Wright method of riding a barrel horse. Which is very much like striking a 2-point position if you ride english.
Going to the gym is paying off, cause all I can say is hamstrings...hamstrings...hamstrings!
Oh sure, if your quads are out if shape, you'll feel the burn, but since I started working out and have strengthened up my hamstrings, I can tell you, my leg is a lot easier to keep steady.
The other thing Ed is adamant about is keeping your hands about mid-neck and jockeying from there (Hello lower back!). Sometimes I get to giggling because it reminds me a lot of that scene from The Black Stallion where Henry (Mickey Rourke) is on a bale of straw and demonstrating to Alex how to ride a race horse. (Unfortunately YouTube does not contain that particular clip...but I'm sure most of you are like me and know that movie by heart.)
Riding in a straight line like that is pretty easy. It's implementing the thought process of the turn that I really need to practice...practice...practice. Ed showed me how to gather, rate and turn without having to sit down and bring my hand back toward the saddle horn, as is such a common thing for us barrel racers to do. I didn't have much success accomplishing that AT his clinic (which was frustrating), but I did understand what he was saying and how he thinks the turn should be accomplished.
Now obviously, riding the clunky, poky Frosty makes practicing all that in slow motion pretty easy.
Oh yea...I'm practicing it on all of my horses. My goal is not to just make these changes to my riding on Moon, but on all of the horses. Ed's style really speeds up the turn times. I might get outrun in a horse race (the straight-aways), but I see no reason to lose a race due to a slow or bad turn.
Moon on the other hand is quick and likes to anticipate. I find myself dealing with the same shoulder and bending issues as what I noticed on Moon last spring. Going to the left he wants to over-bend his neck and push his shoulder to the outside. Going to the right, he gives me his nose, but pushes his shoulder into the turn.
The left is easily fixed by a small lift of the left hand and a slight tightening of the outside rein. If he insists on continuing to push that shoulder to the outside, I just bump his ribs with the outside foot and make him bring everything back in line.
The right is giving me a bit of difficulty. I realized that I when I was lifting and pushing the rein across Moon's neck to ask his shoulder to move over, that I was also lifting and squeezing my right shoulder in. When I do that, Moon just drops his shoulder out from under my hand and he leans into the turn. So I have been working on keeping my shoulder out and level and lifting from the ribcage. It's a smidgeon frustrating because really...it just feels awkward as hell to me. I actually practice it in the evenings when I am sitting in the house. Hopefully it won't take too long for the correct movement to become rote.
The hip thing balanced out quickly enough...I can actually walk and run on the treadmill without falling off. LOL. I have to think less about how my right foot lands and no big surprise...most of my hip pain is gone.
I am working my upper body to attain muscle balance...there is about a 10 lb difference between my left side and my right. Of course the left is the one that is over-built, which is what was causing me so many shoulder and neck problems. Yoga is helping with my balance and Zumba is kicking my ass, but if I ever get it, I guess that means I will have attained coordination between my upper and lower body...Right?