Moon won a barrel race! At a rodeo even! :-O
I think we were all wondering if this was ever going to happen...
It's a little weird...not having to think about the should, woulda, coulda's after a run. What the heck??
A person spends all this time, working at, thinking about and stressing over every little thing to get to this one point...
And when it happens...it's like..Huh, Now what?
Well...Lots more of the same that finally got us to this point, I guess. Ed Wright said the easiest thing to do is get to the top...the hardest thing is to stay there. Well...It's been hard as hell to get to the top...now I just have to make sure I don't stop doing anything and everything that finally culminated in a win.
Have I ever mentioned that a lot of times I get physically sick to my stomach before running Moon? The horse makes me absolutely nauseous. Like OMG...I could just throw up now. Not a single one of my other horses makes me even a little bit nervous. All this time, I have been working to get rid of that feeling when I run Moon...come to find out...it's when we make our best runs. If I am relaxed and not feeling sick to my stomach, I never seem to ride him well enough to make a good run. Interesting tidbit to figure out huh? Before this run, I literally had to ride away from the arena cause I thought I was going to throw up.
I had forgotten my bat at the trailer...Moon was so good at the last barrel race that I didn't even think about grabbing it, but he got to swirling around on me at the gate. Thankfully someone handed me a bat and just a pop on the shoulder and he stopped. I could literally feel him vibrating under me. He didn't want to walk straight forward into the gate (this arena has that funky side gate), so I let him slide up next to the fence and creep around the corner into the arena. The second he stepped into that arena, he was in full race horse mode. He danced his way to the opposite side of the arena so we could get lined up with the 1st barrel. What Moon likes to do is stick his chin out and get rigid in the jaw and neck. Because that lets him get flippy in the hindquarters and gives him the opportunity to pick up the wrong lead...I am absolutely adamant that he break over in the poll and relax that jaw into my hand. I just kept working one side and the other of the rein until he broke over and rounded up. I don't think Moon likes that I make him do this...but I do think it makes him feel more confident and in control when he takes off because it has completely changed his run to 1st barrel.
Moon's first barrel is getting wickedly good. He is firing to and around it faster than he ever has. My competition buddy, L finally beat it into my head that continuing to ease Moon up to and around the 1st barrel was killing our times. Not to mention that I wasn't really gathering him up and making him start from a collected state. The first time I let him run hard to first, we went flying by it. Neither of us was prepared to take the turn at that speed. But L was right...Moon has been running long enough that it was time to just let go and figure it out. And figure it out...he has.
Second barrel was a little iffy. Moon is wanting to lead with his shoulder and lean into that barrel again and the only reason we made it by it was because I picked up a look spot that was beyond the barrel, lifted my hand like crazy and just drove him on like I wanted to run past the barrel. That eeked his shoulder by the barrel, but Moon wasn't about to overrun that turn. He whipped around so hard, he set me completely up out of the saddle and my hand on his neck was about all that saved me from tea-kettling over his shoulder. Dropping down on his front so hard to make the turn caused him to take an extra jump to get out of the turn and get going again, so we were wide coming off of 2nd and wide heading to 3rd.
It's pretty much the same exact run he had going at Montrose on Saturday, where I made the mistake of not keeping my hand up. And that was flashing through my head. I knew if we were going to keep that 3rd barrel up, I was going to have to lift like crazy on the inside rein all the way around. Moon felt me getting my hand ready and eased himself back into a better position, which helped. When he started to dive into the turn, I just lifted my hand and held him up. I felt my leg brush the barrel and thought, 'Oh, no you don't, you SOB. You are not tipping.' And lifted harder. I don't know how Moon's hip cleared that barrel cause I never even looked (which is a bad thing to do anyway) and he hauled ass for home.
I thought, 'Well...we made a clean run. It felt pretty awkward but by god, I R.O.D.E. him every inch of the way and we kept it clean.' There was kind of a pause before they announced my time...and that is never a good feeling. The wind was blowing so hard that they had already missed the time on a run ahead of me. There is supposed to be a hand-timer as a back-up to the electric eye, but somehow that got missed as well. So I was a little nervous. I knew I wouldn't be re-running Moon if they had missed my time. Come to find out...they were just a bit startled by his time...
He ran a 17.61 and to that point, the fast time was a 17.9?. I was a little startled to hear the time myself. I know Moon can make time as long as he keeps forward momentum, but it sure felt like we had lost a lot of time coming out of that 2nd barrel, so I figured at best we would be a 17.9 or 18.0. The only other barrel racer I was worried about beating my time in the slack was L. She ran right after me and her little mare is THE horse to beat. L had a little gate trouble, which was exacerbated by the anxious ropers waiting at the gate (don't even want to go into my rant on that B.S.) and had to get off to lead her mare in. Unfortunately, she did not get a chance to put her rubber bands back on and blew a stirrup at first and blew her 2nd stirrup at 2nd. Her mare made a very uncharacteristic loop on her 3rd turn, but I still thought she had a much smoother run that I had. She was a 17.74.
Since we ran in slack...we had to wait until after the 10 barrel racers went in the performance to see the final results. I checked the names and didn't see anyone that was worrisome...but you never know. The ground always gets faster for the performance runs and sometimes the unknowns can eek out a really good run. Last time I was winning the slack, I went back to watch the performance runs and the first 3-4 barrel racers out kicked my butt, so this time I decided not to agonize over it and told L to pick up my $$ if I placed. She called me to let me know that there had been some really nice runs...but nothing as fast as ours. Whew! Finally...Not just a placing...But a WIN!!!
Now Moon gets a little time off. He was a bit reactive in his loin after that run...but but he will have plenty of time for the soreness to work itself out. The hubby and I are going to Vegas this weekend and when I get back, Moon will start getting a lot of desert riding. We need to have a practice session before I run him again to clean up his approach to 2nd barrel and then we should be good to go.