Well...It was a good weekend. I didn't win any money, but did end up 2nd in the 4D Average. No money awarded for the average, just prizes. So will have to wait to see what arrives in the mail. I left looonnnngggg before the barrel race was over on Sunday. I knew there was no way the time splits were going to work in my favor and land me a check.
Strangely, I'm almost at a loss for words. There's not much to talk about when things pretty much go as planned. My only goal for the weekend was to get two smooth runs on Moon. And that is pretty much what I got. We did end up slower times than I anticipated...but I also know that Moon is not legged up near well enough to ask a lot of him.
I did have some trouble with Moon at the gate and had to be led from the holding pen into the alley, but I kind of expected that. I could feel Moon's heart thudding against my legs and although he acted calm, he was tightly wound. Forward motion is hard for him when he gets nervous. He prefers to spin in circles to the right. There is lots and lots going on at these big races and Moon is no dummy. He knew what the gig was. Horses can get the butterflies as bad as their riders and I'm sure Moon has some residual bad memories of how things ended up last year. I'm not going to fret over a bit of hesitation and resistance at this point.
The only bobble was on Saturday's run. Moon left in the wrong lead and was down the alley before I realized it. He didn't get his lead switched and bowed out leaving the 1st barrel. That cost us a lot of time and we ended up with a 17.166. I was hoping to run about a 16.5-16.6 the first day and that bobble cost us that 1/2 second. He got lined out though and drove right into his pocket on 2nd. I was kissing like crazy to keep him moving and he made a beautiful turn.
Hah...It's a lot more fun when I don't have the 'Oh shit' feeling and just go with him. If I learned absolutely nothing else from EW...that was worth it.
Sunday, I made a choice that could have been costly. I was so excited after Saturday's run, I went up to look at pictures and was a bit startled to see that Moon's mouth was open and his bottom jaw flexed to the side on the picture of him rounding 2nd. *I* looked great (LOL)...I was up over him, my hand was forward and where it is supposed to be...I even had that lovely little kissy-face going on. ;-) I didn't really see any reason for Moon's jaw to be out of whack. The rest of him looked really good.
So, I thought about it a bit and decided to switch him from his normal competition bit, which is just a Jr. Cowhorse, to a O-ring snaffle. He's more than used to that bit, as it's primarily what I ride him with at home. I thought maybe I was still being too heavy handed, not sure how that could have been, since my hand was way up his neck and the reins were loose, but what the heck...there is zero chance Moon is ever going to run off and according to Ed, if you just get up there and ride them forward around the barrel, there is very little chance of them going over the top of it.
Yeaaaa....ummm...Moon wasn't responding to the snaffle the same way he responds to his Jr. Cowhorse bit. When he left the alley, his head was way up and his nose was straight out, he was gapping in the mouth and would not break over at the poll so he could gather up and push off. He did pick up the correct lead, but that was because I took my bat with me and gave him a little pop on his left hip, which pushed it over. Once he picked up his lead, I dropped the bat in the alley. We were almost to the 1st barrel before he finally broke in the poll and squared up under me. When I let him go though...he put the peddle to the metal and gassed around the 1st barrel. I knew there was no way I was going to get him gathered back up again, so I just had to drive him through the 2 barrels. We made it around them by the skin of our teeth and I know one thing...I had had slacked up even a bit...he would have hammered them.
That's not to say they weren't beautiful turns. They were. But Moon was in the driver's seat and if he would have bobbled or flattened at any point, there wasn't a darned thing I could have done about it. And I don't like that feeling. The funny thing was, I looked at those pictures before I left and there was that open mouth and flexed jaw again. Actually worse than before, because Moon was leaning on the rein. Phooey! For once *I* am doing everything right and looked awesome and I didn't buy any pictures because Moon's mouth looked so ugly.
Why Yes...I am vain that way!
**Moon gets his teeth done regularly because of his scissor mouth. He's not due for a few more months yet, but I do plan on getting them checked in the immediate future. I think I will schedule him in with the really expensive equine dentist. I like the guy I use normally and think he does a good job, but the really expensive guy has a reputation for being really good with horses with irregular mouths and I want to make sure we still have everything aligned like it should be. I kinda doubt his teeth are the problem, because there is nothing else going on in everyday life that indicates he's having problems...but it's worth a look since Moon has had problems with his grinding action in the past. Eliminate the most obvious and go from there.
Moon did take a 1/2 a second off of his previous run time. Sunday was a 16.610. And that was even with him slow-loping almost all the way to the 1st barrel, so I cannot complain or be disappointed. His form was spot on and that's really what I was hoping for.
Soooo...at least now I have a jumping off point. Time to really get to work on getting Moon legged up. It will be a few weeks before he has to run again and when it is time, I want him completely ready.
I was disappointed because last year you could purchase your videos and have the link emailed to you. They did not offer that option this year. But maybe at this point it's better to not have videos to sit there and over-analyse between now and the next run. According to EW, I'm over-analytical anyway. It's probably just best to focus on running each run as they happen and not trying to analyze every little thing after the fact. That hasn't worked well for me in the past. Occasionally, I see something I didn't know was happening...like the mouth thing in the pictures...but for the most part...I spend too much time picking things apart and that ends up being all I think about.
There is no doubt Moon is a struggle for me. I don't think many other people would have kept on with him as long as I have...no matter how talented he is. And maybe he isn't as capable as I think he is. I am starting to wonder if there really is any more in there or not. Moon may very well be a 'tweener'. Around here, he is capable enough to run in the 1D times, but always seems to be just out of the money. At the big races, he's doing good if he can get into the 2D times and has certainly not been anywhere near the top of that bracket. It's just one of those weird things where he always seems to be just 2 or 3 tenths off...too slow to win or place in one division, but too fast to win or place in a slower division...he's a 'tweener'. I have no idea what the heck you do about that? Don't let them run as fast? That kind of defeats the purpose don't ya think?
Well, for lack of anything better to do with my time...I'm going to just keep running him and see where it takes us. With Frosty and Spooks to play with, that takes a lot of pressure off and maybe that is just what Moon needs. I know it is what I have needed. I feel a lot less frustrated and incapable. Spooks may not be a bolt of lightening, but he is a fun ride...and always seems to draw a check...so weird how that works huh? Frosty is promising to be a run ride as well and I know that horse has way more speed than he even realizes. It will be fun to pull it out of him.
In the meantime, the little sorrel horse is coming along...no idea what he may be capable of, but I know he is fast and has a lot of turning power. By next year the big bay will be ready to start running. He very well may be my secret weapon. The horse I didn't think was ever going to grow into himself. LOL
So short of barrel horse potential, I am not. It's just time to start putting some focus on some of the other ones and let the chips fall where they may with Moon.