I finally made it to a local barrel race, which is something I desperately needed to do since I entered Moon in a big barrel race in Salinas, Utah next weekend.
Things got interesting real fast at the barrel race. I unloaded horses, tied them to the trailer and went to enter. I had debated over and over in my head whether to just pay for a couple of exhibition runs on Moon and test the waters or to just enter him and run. Since I also cracked Frosty out at this race...I knew I HAD to get a couple of exhibition trips on him before the race. I decided to just enter Moon in the race and let the chips fall where they may.
There was already quite a few riders warming up and knowing Frosty like I do...I was hesitant to just jump on him and ride into the thick of things. So I saddled Moon and then saddled Frosty, with the intention of ponying him around for a bit and giving him a look-see. When I pulled the cinch of Frosty...he blew like a stick of dynamite and flailed around the trailer for a good bit. Luckily the lead rope did not snap. Frosty bucked at the end of the leadrope, flailed forward and smashed his head into the trailer, fell back, bucked forward, smashed his head again, fell back and came to a quivering halt. Eyes bugging, nostrils flared and with a massive hump in his back.
Ooohhh...He's a smart bastard isn't he?
My only concern was that he did not damage my trailer with that noggin of his.
Nope...trailer is fine...
Some pretty good scrapes on his head and he split his lip.
He'll live to do it again. Jackass!!
I couldn't get his leadrope untied because he had janked it so tight and he was acting like a fool still, so I grabbed another lead rope out of the trailer and eased up to Frosty, speaking softly and trying to soothe him, so he didn't blow up again and actually damage the side of my trailer. There is proof that horses really don't understand English, only the tone of your voice, because I called him every name in the book and cussed him up one side and down the other...but I did do it in a soft and gentle voice, so it was all good.
What I really wanted to do was beat the ever loving tar out of him. He's never done that before. Hopefully his head hurts tonight so he won't do it again. Jackass!!
By the time that fiasco was over, I barely managed to make one trip around the arena before they called for it to be cleared for the exhibitions. Oh LOVELY! I'm ponying the fire-breathing dragon and I have to get on this horse and run barrels on him?
To make a long story short...I took him back to the trailer, tied Moon up, yanked out the longe line and gave Jackass an education. Hearing Ed Wright's voice in my ear...telling me to stop babying this horse, I climbed on and rode over to the arena. I was prepared for the absolute worst. Know what I got?
Nothing! Not a damn thing! He tipped his ear at a couple of horses that passed him in the warm-up area and that was it. He was good as gold. (shakes head in disgust)
I made sure Old Bucky Buckskin was pretty well warmed up, LOTS of bending, little circles, big circles, reverses, stops and backs. He was an absolute sweetheart. (Thanks Ed for being the voice in my ear!)
I had paid for 2 exhibitions on Frosty, back to back. We started out long trotting the first one, but Frosty eased into a lope on his own...that's a good thing. The second one, I asked him to lope and stretch out a bit more, but not too much. He did really good. (Two Thumbs up)
I put Frosty back at the trailer and got on Moon while they were getting the arena ready for the race. Moon seemed less than thrilled to be back to doing 'this crap', but outside of a momentary panic (on my part) when he stopped and stretched like he had to pee and then did nothing...It was all good. Apparently I just didn't wait long enough because he did stop and pee after his first stop and stretch. Moon peeing and taking a healthy dump during warm-up is ALWAYS good. It's when he doesn't that I start to worry.
When it was our turn to run, I gathered Moon up and he eased through the gate just like he used to. Just inside the gate though, he thought maybe he aught to try to spin around, but again, Thanks to Ed's voice, I just let him overspin and he ended up facing the barrels. He took off in the wrong lead, but I was not going to let him get started with that crap again. I rated him down, circled him, making him pick up the correct lead and made him give me his face and round his body. Two circles and he gave up and just rounded and softened like he should. I let him go.
First barrel was good. Actually the whole run was good.
I told myself that the goal this year is not to F**k with Moon in his runs. If *I* do what *I* am supposed to...he will do what he is supposed to.
I A.L.M.O.S.T. started to sit down and pull before we got to the second barrel, but I saw my hands coming back and made myself push them forward, as well as keep my outside hand on the rein until Moon was into his turn. He wrapped that barrel!
Unfortunately...just a tish too tight. He bumped his hip on the barrel coming out of the turn and it went down. I knew it was going to, as we were coming out, I looked down and my leg was brushing the barrel and Moon was already flattening out. I knew his hip wasn't going to clear it.
He wrapped 3rd and I let him coast home. Once a barrel is down, it's an automatic no-time at the 4D barrel races so unless I have a horse that is scotching before the timer, I don't push them for the gate. Moon didn't really do anything wrong to tip that barrel, We went into it well, it felt good, just didn't get it cleared. I wasn't really asking Moon to run, so I think we just didn't have as much momentum as usual. So, I am actually really pleased. I think Ed gave me all the tools I was needing and I had a winter to mull it all over. My days of trying to train on Moon at competitions are over. He knows his job. I trust that. Now I just need to focus on doing mine.
Now...for the fun part...an actual 'greenie' for me to play trainer with...
Frosty was up in the next drag after Moon and I was again just a bit unsure how he was going to act. Sometimes after he sits at the trailer, he's great. Sometimes he is not so great. I didn't have much time to sweet-talk him into being nice.
This time he grew a brain while resting at the trailer (Whew!!) and we rode right over to the arena, so I could re-warm him up. He was soft and relaxed and I was happy.
If I can get a green horse to pick up the correct lead when they go through the gate, I just head toward the barrel. If they don't, I circle. I had to circle Frosty, but he lined right out for the first barrel when we came around. Here's the tricky thing about Frosty...he's soft and fluid...but he doesn't have a whole lot of stretch out and goooo....So, I have to really get up over him, move my hands forward and mooch. That's all well and good, except I can't seem to forget that if Frosty decided to bog his head and suck back...I'm toast. Arena Dart! So I'm always a bit cautious of really getting into it. LOL
Frosty headed to first barrel and was doing sooo nice...and then the announcer starts talking. Frosty was pretty committed to that first turn and even though he started to kind of look around to see where 'the voice' was coming from...he rounded the barrel nicely. When that voice kept talking and it was behind him...Oh yea...he completely forgot what we were out there to do. He lifts his head and starts looking around to find that 'voice'...and the ducking and dodging was on.
His head's going left and right...and his feet are following. He still tried to rate up at second barrel, but as green horses are prone to doing...he flipped out of his lead and found the turn difficult to complete. He kind of faded off to the center of the arena and was having a hard time getting his momentum going forward again.
I finally got him focused on that 3rd barrel and got his body moving forward again, but we were almost there and he decided that he might need to 'cut' that barrel. He was ducking and dodging back and forth in front of it, rather undecided which way he should go around it.
OMG...I love green horses! They are such a freaking hoot. (And no, I'm not being fasicuous.I really do love greenies.)
We made it around the 3rd barrel, the announcer FINALLY shut up and Frosty stretched out for a nice lope home.
We had the slowest time of the day (29 seconds) and I thought it was very successful. I am so excited to finally be 'attempting' to run Frosty. I just think he is going to be awesome and I love the way he feels on the pattern. He is so soft and gathers up for the rate so easy. He is the total opposite of Torpedo Man Moon.
As for the yakity, yak announcer...It's just something Frosty will have to get used to. Noise and commotion is part and parcel of competition. I have no idea whether Frosty will get over it quickly or whether it will take some time. But if he's ever going to be any good...he's gonna have to learn to deal with it.
Now that I have the first runs of the year out of the way, the butterflies are gone and it's time to get down to business. I am soooo excited.