Wednesday, October 3, 2012

They Call Me...

The Spider Monkey....



Hahahahaha....This is pretty much what Moon does to me on his 2nd barrel. He turns soooo hard, that he just about ejects me. I have no doubt that one of these days, Moon is going to make that turn...and *I* am not. ;-)

I don't know what to do about it, except just keep going and hope that at some point we get it smoothed out. Until then...if this is what it takes to win...I just have to go with it.

'Cause Moon did win this race. By a full 2 tenths of a second.

This was the CWBRA Finals race. Moon ran a 17.840 and the next fastest time was an 18.059. It was a particularly exciting win for me because the horse that ran the 18.059 was a horse that has been to the NFR recently. Now, I'm pretty sure that the Pro rider wasn't asking this horse for a 'rodeo run'...but up until I ran Moon, her time was spanking the local girls, as the next fastest time was an 18.228. The 18.228 time was run by a girl that has been consistently winning our local barrel racings all summer. Moon has run behind her all this time...so it felt darned good to finally come out on top.

To be perfectly honest...I about fell off Moon when they announced my time. I did NOT think he was making time at all during his run. The ground was weird and everyone was running much slower times than normal. In fact, the ground was so weird that poor Spooks slipped horribly on his 2nd barrel and Spooks never slips in his turns. Moon lost his grip on the ground at both his 1st and 2nd barrel as well. So when they announced my time, I thought they said 18.8. That's about what I thought it should have been, so when everyone started cheering, I was a little confused. I asked someone standing beside me what time they just said and when they told me a 17.8...I was shocked.

I have figured out two very, VERY!!! important things about Moon...

He makes his fastest runs when he is so quiet before the race that you think he is practically in a coma. I mean closed eyes, dropped head, hind leg cocked...that kind of a dead quiet. It has taken up most of the year to really figure out what is the best warm-up/get ready to run approach and I had to deal with some gate issues along the way. We are over the gate issues, but I still spend a lot of time working on that. Camping by the gate as much as possible well before Moon's run and then again after, walking him back into the arena whenever possible, waiting until he is relaxed, getting off and loosening his cinch and then just hanging out is all working to help teach Moon how to handle his adrenaline pumps and also that I just want him to approach the gate in a relaxed, confident and focused manner...every.single.time! He is learning that *I* will tell him when it's time to make a run and until that time, there is no sense in getting excited. When he starts his runs dead quiet...he's deadly fast. :D

The other thing is...Do NOT use the bat on Moon's butt during a run. Moon doesn't need any encouragement to run, but I have popped him on the butt a couple of times as he is running into his pocket because I can feel him wanting to turn too hard and too early. MOST horses respond to a little pop on the butt by shooting forward just that little extra bit. Popping Moon on the butt just makes him want to work that much harder and in Moon's mind...working harder ='s turning harder. What is most effective on Moon, is if I just keep my bat in my left hand and lay it along his shoulder. When he starts to turn too hard/too soon, I just have to roll my hand and tap him...when he feels the bat touch his shoulder, he doesn't drop into the turn as quick.

That is the ONLY way I kept him off of the barrel in those photos above. ^^^^ It makes for some ugly-looking riding...but we ARE getting around the barrels and I think that it will eventually all smooth out. Moon is an over-achiever....always has been and probably always will be...but I do think we are getting to the point where I know exactly what and where the problems arise and if I can just circumvent him from making the same mistakes over and over...eventually he will start to relax a little bit and just let it flow.

My goal is to get him to just flow forward through the turn like he does on the first barrel.

But as always, part of the problem is me. I cannot seem to find the right 'feel' before Moon gets to that second barrel. There is an oh-so subtle shape and softness that I am not getting from Moon, even though I am working hard to get it...
I had people tell me I 'rated' Moon all the way across from 1st to 2nd barrel...and while that may very well be what it looks like...it's not at all what I am asking him for...I am asking for SHAPE. Moon has it in this picture ^^ and as you can see from the bit shanks...they are not pulled back, so all I am doing is lifting and shaping...not pulling. But right before we set into the 2nd turn, we are losing shape and Moon just dives into the turn. My guess is that I am dropping my hand and shoulder...which is encouraging Moon to drop and turn out from under me as he did in the pictures above.

THIS is what Moon looks like when I rate him too soon...
I have no idea why I did this. Moon was running to 3rd and was in the perfect position and had great shape, but one full stride too soon, I set him for the turn and dropped the outside rein. Moon started to turn and I went, 'Oh shit' and just pushed my body forward to keep him going. It was nip and tuck, cause right here...
I thought that barrel was toast. It was will power, sucking my knee into him and sheer luck that got us by it.

And finally...this is a picture that clearly shows why I have to work so hard to control Moon's shoulder...
Do you see the neck on this horse? More specifically how deep he ties into the shoulder? He's like a darned bull. When Moon stiffens his neck and shoulder...trying to get him to unstiffen is like trying to get a 2x4 to bend. I can only do so much to correct him because Moon's first instinct is ALWAYS to stiffen into pressure even more. It's just his personality, always has been and most likely always will be. What I am searching for is a happy medium. In a way, Moon very much reminds me of Carlee Pierce's horse, Rare Dillon...
Rare Dillon has a rather unorthodox style of turning...especially his 2nd barrel. Carlee says she has to just ride him deep into the turn and then let him turn. This is not how EW likes a horse to turn, but it is becoming such a struggle between Moon and I to get the EW kind of shape on him going into that 2nd barrel, that I may have to give up on getting that perfect shape and just figure out what works the best for Moon. Another barrel racer whose videos and pictures I have been studying is Christie Peterson on Bozo. LOL...I used to kind of laugh at Christie Peterson...I mean, here is a woman who made it to the NFR multiple times and if you watch her runs...she is slopping around in the saddle like a wet rag, when Bozo turns the 2nd barrel. NOW I KNOW WHY!! and will never make fun of her again. Some horses just turn so stinking hard that it's impossible to actually look GOOD when you are running them.

I have just come to the conclusion that I am no longer interested in staying home and running locally until my runs become 'pretty'. Right now Moon can win/place against some very tough horses...it's time to just go for it and make it work for us however we can.


13 comments:

Laura Crum said...

Congratulations! Its so cool how far you and Moon have come together and all the obstacles you have overcome. I look forward to reading about your future in the big time.

Shirley said...

Yay for you and Moon! He's a rocket! (and about as easy to ride as one...)
I sooooo hope you can make it to the Calgary Stampede one of these years. Pretty big payday- $100,000- so it's well worth the effort!

Mikey said...

I think you're doing awesome! Love seeing all these pics, and can't wait for more. So cool!!

Cut-N-Jump said...

Dang girl! Those first few pics kinda look like a WTF? in progress. Probably what you were thinking when you first looked at them too I imagine. LOL!

Doing what works for the horse is almost always your best bet. I say almost because sometimes they need correction here and there to fix or improve. It may not be pretty, but then pretty isn't always fast either, so you have to choose what you want most and go after it.

The pic with your hands raised- you may not be or even have to pull on the reins to get what you need. The horses can feel us moving around up there and respond accordingly without all of the yanking and pulling we often see going on at some of the different events.

Congrats on throwing down such a blazing time and whoopin some ass again. Keep it coming!

spotz58 said...

A clinician usually has an ideal in mind based on an average of all the horses they have seen, but ask yourself if YOUR horse is the average? Conformation, temperament, agility, speed, power curve, suppleness, etc. may make a good horse way off the mark from the average, so the ideal isn't the best for that horse. Maybe it actually isn't perfect for any actual horse? Anyhow, every horse has his own "perfect".


LOL at the Christie Peterson remark. Yeah, I've seen some ugly runs from her and others too, but they were winning, eh? Bet they din't look like that training at home, but in competition they did what worked.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

You know...I really LIKE EW's 'ideal'....because it does put a horse into a position where the turns require a lot less effort for the horse and therefore minimize strain on body and legs. And by god...that IS how we practice it at home...it just isn't coming out that way in competition. LOL

I owe a LOT to EW, btw. If it wasn't for going to his clinic the first time, I wouldn't even still be running Moon. I knew Moon had a lot of potential, but for the life of me, I could NOT figure him out and I was D.O.N.E!!

Paint Girl said...

Love the pictures!! And congrats on your win!!
I agree that you need to do what works for you and your horse and it might not always be pretty, but you can still win without pretty and you have definitely proved that! Can't wait to hear all of your continued successful and winning runs!! Way to go!!

Crystal said...

Those pics still amaze me, I can only imagine what it looks like to watch the whole run never mind how you ever stay on. But if its working stick with it!!

WishIHadAHorsey said...

Wonderful! Congrats on the run.

Joyce Reynolds-Ward said...

Yay you!

Mocha and I almost won a reining this weekend. We were at the top of the judges cards...until I miscounted the spins. Yikes. Man, she's a lot of horse to ride when she lines out in a reining pattern. But the same judge who told me why we DQed the runs also said we had the best control at speed....

But we did win a couple of Trail classes....

fernvalley01 said...

Congrats on the win, the way you describe MOON I am quite sure I would fly right out the back door when he took off, you are getting it done ,and damn well so pretty ? well I am sure it will come

Laura said...

Woohooo!!!! Congrats on the great run. :-) Sounds like you guys are moving on up with the big kids! Looking forward to hearing about your adventures...

C-ingspots said...

*happy dance* !!! Congratulations!!! It may not be pretty, but you two sure are doing something right...keep it up!!!