Sunday morning found me and the boys rolling in the general direction of home. First we had to stop and make a little run on Spooks...I didn't haul the poor, black horse 550 miles for nothing. ;-)
Spooks is pretty sure that the rodeo life is NOT for him. Not only was he stuck traveling with his least favorite horse, he did NOT like the thunderstorms we drove through, all the activity at the rodeos, booms, fireworks, and he especially did NOT like the sheep. LMAO
Typically Moon is nothing but mean to Spooks and Spooks stays far, far away...Hahaha...You would have thought they were 'besties' the way they acted when they were separated while on the road. I'd like to say that I think they may have become friends, but not really. As soon as I turned them out when I got home, Spooks got as far away from Moon as he could. He's no dummy. Moon is mean as heck to him and just because they were buddies on the road doesn't mean Spooks actually trusts Moon.
So anyway, back to the barrel race. I really cannot afford to miss any more association runs with Spooks. He was sitting 2nd in the 4D standings with more than a few points separating him and the leader. The lady leading at the moment has a very solid 4D horse as well. Since Spooks decided to run in the 3D a couple of times, she got a pretty good lead on us.
Don't get me wrong...I like the other lady. She's super nice. But that doesn't mean I don't want Spooks to win the title. Know what I mean?
When I got there, I got horses unloaded, taken care of and started brushing. I was specifically checking Moon out to see if he seemed sore or stiff anywhere. Outside of a bit of puffiness around his hind fetlocks...he was in excellent shape. Considering the puffiness could have been due to all of the miles in the trailer over the last couple of days, I wasn't too concerned about them. I washed Moon's legs with ice water and slathered on some Mineral Ice. I figured he was in good enough shape to run again. But I had a little bit different goal for him this run.
See...I can only get so many 'fast' runs out of Moon before he starts wanting to drop his shoulder in the turns and flip that hindquarter out. What he needed was a good practice run in a competition setting to get him squarely back under himself and rating properly for the turns.
I am nowhere in the point standings on Moon at the local runs. So I am treating them more like practice runs than competition runs.
Normally, I run Spooks first and then Moon. This time I decided that since I felt pretty in-synch with Moon, I was going to run him first. I got him thoroughly warmed up and then took him back to the trailer. It was about 20 minutes before the race started and he settled in for a little nap. Perfect! It had been a long weekend and I knew he must have been getting tired. I was hoping that he would be fairly docile for this run.
You know...he was pretty good. When it was time, we stood well back from the gate and as each girl before us went, we eased up a little more. Moon was walking right up there. When it was our turn, he tried to spin out, but I didn't let him get away with it. I spanked him on the butt and as soon as he faced up to the gate, I started talking that ridiculous baby-talk to him again. He crept up to the gate as nice as you please. Now...when I say crept, I don't mean, didn't want to go and drug his feet...He crept like a cat stalking his prey. I just kept talking to him and kept a hold of him as I eased him into his run.
I DID NOT want a full on rodeo run. I wanted a nice, relaxed, practice run. That's what I got up to the 1st barrel. Moon was stretched out, but not running hard. He turned that barrel about as pretty as a horse can. He came out with a nice straight body...but I didn't let him go.
Instead of starting to really push him...I kept him rated up. Oohhhh...he did not like that. He was straining to run. I was straining to hold him down. We struggled across between 1st and 2nd and I got my way. What I really wanted to do was to make sure that Moon was rating into that 2nd barrel nice and straight. I also wanted him to open the top of his pocket up by about 1 foot. I think that will make a difference on whether we get more consistent getting around that 2nd barrel or not.
I rolled him into that barrel exactly where I wanted him, in position and with controlled speed, he turned that barrel so smooth and quiet.
Problem was, he ticked the barrel with his hip on the way out. That's when I made a really big mistake...
I looked back. (NEVER look back!!)
I have no idea why...I never look back at barrels. Guess I should say...almost never, cause I sure enough did this time. Dohhh!!!
Moon was rolling along pretty good and even though I immediately realized my mistake and whipped my head back around...3rd barrel was r.i.g.h.t. there and *I* had not given Moon enough pocket to get around hit. I rated him as hard as I could, but he ticked the barrel with his shoulder and it just sort of plopped over.
UUggghhhh...I was SOOOO MAD at myself.
I slow-loped Moon home. Ahhhh...from hero to zero with one backward glance. LOL
Wanna hear the disgusting part?
His time was (would have been) an 18.08. Hahahaha...All that won it was a 17.89. If I had left that 3rd barrel up and just let Moon run home...he would have won the damned race. He lost at least 2 tenths on his time by slow-loping home. But once that barrel goes down...it's over...so there was no reason to run him home.
Now doesn't that just make you sick?
However...on the bright side...As much as Moon did not appreciate it...I did manage to keep him at a speed that *I* wanted him to be at. Kept his body straight going into his turns, opened his pocket up just a tish and outside of ME not placing him where he needed to be on 3rd...it was a really good training exercise and something I plan on working on more.
Not making excuses...because you should never look back, but after making a couple of rodeo runs...I sorta forgot that 3rd barrel wasn't very far away on an association pattern. Rodeos generally set their patterns to the size of the arena, which means that 3rd is usually way and the hell and gone up at the other end of the arena. Associations generally set their pattern to a standard size, with equal distances between 1st and 2nd and then the same distance from 1st to 3rd and 2nd to 3rd. In general speak...several strides less from 2nd to 3rd than what you get at rodeos. It was still a dumb mistake...but I won't be making that one again for a long while. ;-)
Now poor old Spooks got drug 550 miles just so he could go out there and do what he does. And he did. He was out of the money, but picked up those oh-so-valuable points...closing the gap between me and the leader to just one point. Go Spooks!! I really want to win that year-end saddle. :-)
I hung around just long enough to take care of the horses and while they were eating their afternoon snack, I watched a few more runs and visited with friends. That in-itself can become a dangerous thing to do. When a plan does not come together...it can often garner unsolicited advice and even subtle negativity. But that subject is worthy of it's own post. ;-)