This morning Meg and I went to a local playday/gymkhana. I forgot how much fun those things are. Normally we hit several of them in the spring, as a low-key prep to the barrel racing season. Because Meg had quit riding, I guess I just got focused on the barrel races and didn't bother to go to any.
Well, Frosty hasn't exactly cracked out at the barrel racings like I thought (hoped) he would...so I decided what he needs is some playdays. They are a whole lot cheaper than entering a barrel race and I like the fact that so many of the events are things that we have never practiced. I use all of those fun games/patterns to teach a horse how to follow my hands and stay between my legs...with some speed added.
Normally I start all of my barrel horses out at playdays. It's just something that has worked for me over the years. That step got skipped with Frosty because he was so spastic about everything at busy events that I was worried about taking him to such things. There are a lot of kids at these events...and people who don't really know etiquette...and I didn't want to end up in a wreck with him, nor get someone's kid hurt if he spazzed out.
But the big, buckskin dummy has come a long way in that regard and I decided it was time to see how he would handle it. He was wayyyyy better than I expected and we only had one big shy. A girl came loping up on his butt and even though I was trying to stay as close to the fence as possible to prevent people from trying to pass on that side, she tried to squeeze through. Frosty lost it a bit and blew sideways into L's horse (which didn't make L very happy, but oh well, I HAD warned her!!). The girl didn't even apologize. So the next time she came loping around, I just sidepassed Frosty over to the fence so she had to slam on the brakes and I told her to keep to the inside. She gave me a snarly face...but didn't try to run up Frosty's butt again. ;-)
One thing I thought was going to set Frosty over the edge was the presence of a roan mule. I kept waiting for him to see it and was prepared for him to want to vacate the premise immediately. When he did finally see the mule, he surprised me to no end. He didn't want to run a.w.a.y. from it...he wanted to CHASE it. OMG...Megan and I laughed and laughed. Frosty had his head up and was locked onto that mule and he was trying to charge through the bit and go after it.
Unfortunately, barrels is almost always the first event at playdays...and Frosty was certainly not focused yet. I don't think he even saw a barrel. He just kind of went out there and ran every which way. LOL
And this is what makes these kinds of things awesome...there were 4 more events that I was riding him in, so he got a lot of opportunity to have to ride right back in that arena and do yet another event. By the 3rd event, he was getting tired and was a whole lot more focused on just staying between my legs and following my hands. He didn't win or even place in any of the events, but he was much, much better at the primary objective...listening to me and focusing on what I was asking him to do...for events 3, 4 and 5...and he started figuring out the 'run home' thing.
I'm going to try to hit as many of these playdays as I can the rest of the summer. I will also continue to exhibition Frosty at the association barrel races and will probably haul him with me to the rodeos. He can keep Moon company and I can continue to get him used to lots of activity going on around him.
Megan has been riding again and I figured she had just better go ahead and get a run on her blue roan horse to see where he was at. Meg has a lot of work a head of her to get him lined back out...he has a terrible habit of running to the barrel and then acting like it's a cow he needs to work. LOL!! She lost a lot of valuable time by quitting riding this spring, but she'll get it worked out. She says she wants to go to some NBHA runs with me and I think her and the blue horse can still place in the youth division. This would be her last year to run in that division, so she had better take advantage of it.
Tonight Moon gets a P3 treatment and tomorrow we are off to a CPRA rodeo. It's a 4 1/2 hour drive and I might not have bothered to enter one that far away, but I heard this was a big, sandy pen. That's the kind of pen Moon usually runs well in, so hopefully the drive will be worth it. ;-)