I wanted to take it easy on Moon this weekend...He's been running a lot since February and been hauled thousands of miles. It's only going to get busier for us from here on out...But I still feel like we...read that as *I*...needed to keep the flow going and make one run. I picked one of his favorite arenas to run in...the Rimrock Rodeo arena. We have always done good there and since the barrel racing was coupled with a bull riding event, I knew it would be a good place to practice our new method.
This is the arena that has the funky side gate, where if you have a right hand barrel horse, you have to come in, cross the entire width of the arena and then get turned around to start your run. That feat can be a bit tricky, but it actually seems to work for Moon. It seems to give him a chance to get that adrenaline pump he gets out of the way and he gathers himself for his run. I like the fact that I can ride all the way to the opposite fence and then bring Moon back around and start his run from a little to the right of center. Moon's deadly on that first barrel when I can start our runs from there because he doesn't have time to straighten his body...He runs to and around that first barrel in beautiful shape. It shaves a couple of strides off of the run as well, which never hurts. ;-)
And oh man, did he fire. I came so close to picking up on those reins, but I have learned my lesson...If I just leave him alone, he WILL make the turn and in better form than if I'm 'helping'. He came out clean and headed straight across the arena. I actually moved my hands up his neck and asked him to run a little harder. LOL.
We was about 2 strides out from the 2nd barrel when I realized my error. I had piloted Moon too close to the barrel. I moved my eyes over and if I had kept my outside hand on the rein, I probably could have gave him a little 'check' to encourage him to move over, but I had already dropped my right hand to the horn...CRAP!!! Moon was running so hard, that I thought, well, if I just keep my inside hand down and don't pull up on him, I can probably get him by the barrel, even if the rest of the turn is awkward.
Nope! Moon started to turn and I had no option but to bring my left hand over his shoulder to try to keep him off of the barrel. That didn't work either. Moon tagged the barrel on the backside with his breast collar. Since I know that...that means I didn't keep my eyes up enough to get that one extra inch.
I let Moon finish the run, but didn't encourage him to run. Just let him coast along. Third was good...no urge to sit up and pull on him this time, so apparently we have our groove on there again.
I'm going to try something a little different the next time I run...Since I have such a sticky spot in myself that isn't letting me use both hands effectively at the 2nd barrel, I'm going to try to keep my right hand only on the rein as Moon makes his run between 1st and 2nd.
It's kind of an interesting phenomena....but my left arm seems to be almost immobile when I am running in competition. I've noticed this about myself before. I can get my left hand up to the rein easily enough, but once I get it there, I just seem to sort of set it in place. Without meaning to, I am setting Moon up for his turn a couple of strides too early and that is pulling him too far into the pocket. I am far more mobile with my right arm, so I think if I just keep that hand on the rein until we are almost to the point where Moon needs to start turning, it will keep his body straighter, longer and when it's time, I can sweep my left arm up and ask him for the inside bend. I have seen other girls ride across the pen like that and I always wondered if it would work better for Moon and I to try that. Now that I am not stuck in the rut of 'I have to make this ONE thing work.'...I think it's time to see if it will. Since Moon is actually running across the pen with a straight body and isn't shouldering/dropping into the turn...I think it is just my immobilized left arm that is causing us to tag that barrel now.