I am unbelievably pissed off after this last weekend. My act of kindness toward Moon last week did not pay off. It bit me in the ass!! Giving Moon time off freshened him up all right.
He was so fresh that he plumb run off with me on Saturday and PLOWED over the 2nd and 3rd barrels. I had absolutely NO control. NONE!!!
I was so goll-darned mad I was shaking. Moon is VERY lucky that I did not have access to anything that I could have used as a weapon or I might very well have beat him plumb to death.
Instead, we headed directly to a different arena and I put him right back on the pattern. He was STILL trying to run off with me and run over barrels. His brain was just gone and he was trying to charge around that pattern like an idiot. Finally I had enough of it and started sitting his ass down before a barrel and making him back all the way up to the previous barrel, stand for a minute and then asked him to go forward again. It took about 30 minutes of just drilling him like that to finally get him settled enough to just t.r.o.t. to the next barrel. It took almost a full hour to finally get him to just lope the pattern without charging and diving at the barrels or thrashing and digging in the turns. I threw in a lot of other drills and exercises during this process as well....anything I could think of to get his brain coming back and try to get him to settle down.
He was dripping sweat. So was I. It was just unbelievable how ridiculous he was being. The whole time I was chanting to myself...'He's never getting another day off, he's never getting another day off.' I mean...Good freaking lord....That was just insane.
Under normal circumstances, I would have just cooled him out and put him away after I finally got him settled down to business, but having a big Pro Rodeo the next day?...
*I* really needed to know I had my horse back.
So I cooled him down, let him drink a little, gave him a bite of hay and went to enter him in the 2nd race.
This time when I ran I put his tiedown back on and shortened it up significantly. No way in hell was he going to get the chance to run off with me again.
He made a nice, smooth, easy run. I was like, 'Okay, he's thinking and listening again. We should be good for tomorrow.'
The next morning we headed for Eagle Mountain, UT.
The whole way I was trying to formulate a game plan. With Moon, it's hard to decide what to do based off of his demeanor. He is such a deceptive horse. He may act like he is tired and docile right up until the moment you line him up at the gate, but I never really know where his brain is until I release the reins to let him run...and of course by then it's too late.
You know, like the day before, he had acted so good. Relaxed and at ease. I did not realize until I let him go to make his run that I had just released the Kraken. So I spent my warm-up time waffling over whether to leave the tiedown on? leave it tight or loosen it up?...or just take it off? For a normal horse...I would immediately know that after working that hard the day before and then getting hauled 200 miles...they would be tired and more inclined to be thinking. Moon is not a normal horse. He is tougher than nails. Getting his butt worked off the day before and getting hauled 200 miles was barely going to make a dent in him.
The dilemma was mostly due to the size of the pen. Whereas the run yesterday had been in a little indoor pen, this was a big outdoor pen. The pattern was set to standard size and had a full score with a run in, run out gate. To clock with these pro girls, Moon was going to need to be able to stretch out and run in between the barrels. Basically, I just needed to be able to keep him off the barrels.
At the last minute, I decided to just loosen the tiedown and leave it on. It was loose enough that I didn't think it would impede him, but I was hoping if he still felt it on, it would help him keep his brain.
When I released Moon to make his run...I knew...He had his thinking cap on. He made a beautiful 1st barrel. Snapped out of the turn and was just flying toward 2nd. I remembered to really finish my turn and knew I had a good enough pocket. We came into the 2nd turn. I rolled my hand forward and flipped up my thumb...and felt Moon push into my rein a little bit. I wasn't too concerned because we had enough room. Then I felt him start to die out under me and lean into the rein a little more. Oh crap!! We needed to be farther into the turn before he did that. His head was just at the barrel and his shoulder needs to be there before he starts his turn. I caught him with the outside rein just when he started to dive at the barrel and just barely managed to get his shoulder by the barrel. Of course, whenever I start to feel Moon pushing into the inside rein, that is my panic button and that is when I resort to grabbing him with the outside rein. It gets his shoulder by the barrel...but always results in him having to take an extra stride behind the barrel, then he dumps on his front-end and has to regather. It's a very ugly V-shaped turn when that happens.
When I felt Moon dump on his front-end, I switched hands, let him finish his turn and told myself...'Okay, don't panic...Relax! You have lots of time to get regathered before the 3rd barrel.' And I did. I relaxed my hands on the reins, let them slide through and got reset. We were a few strides out, when I realized Moon was coming in way too close to the 3rd barrel. He was completely in the inside of where my eyes were set for his pocket. I asked him to move over. He did not move! I asked him again and he leaned into the inside rein. I was like, 'Oh no you don't you asshole'. and I turned my foot to poke him in the side with my spur...Ooohhhh...CRAP! I forgot to put my spur on. All that waffling around over the tiedown issue and I forgot my spur? Dumb, dumb, dumb!!! It was right in the bag I carried Moon's boots in and it didn't even register when I was booting him up.
Well, Moon was flying into that turn, wouldn't move and was already leaning on my inside rein. All I could do was stand up in my stirrups and heave. All I needed to do was get that damned shoulder of his by the barrel and let him figure out how to get turned around on the backside. I got his shoulder by, but he was leaned over so far and trying to curl the barrel...I felt my leg brush the barrel and saw the barrel tip...ever so slightly. But I knew we had just brushed it. And it was just barely moving so I thought we just rocked it. Moon rolled out of that turn and we were gone. That's when I heard the crowd go, 'Awwww!' and I KNEW...
FREAK!! I was pissed. When the announcer said what my time 'would have been'...I about choked. Moon had just ran a 17.23. The time winning it at the moment was a 17.22...And that was Mary Walker on Latte. Moon just ran 1/100th of a second off of Latte???
I mean running a 17.23 on a full set (a standard pattern with a full score) pretty darned fast!! That was 4/10ths of a second faster than Moon has ever ran on a full set before. Last year, I about cried for happiness when he ran a 17.66 on a full set.
But I was so stinking mad over that 3rd barrel. That was completely unnecessary. We had plenty of time for Moon to come over and hit his pocket. Spur or no spur. I was looking where I wanted him to go. I was riding him to that spot. He just completely ignored me and did his own thing.
In the end, Moon's belligerence cost us $1,469!! Our time would have held on for 2nd place at that rodeo. That would have more than filled my permit, which filling my permit before June 1st was a big goal of mine. I rather feel like I was robbed...by my own horse. I rode my ass off and did the very best I could do to put Moon into the best positions I could and it still wasn't good enough to eek out a clean run. It's like every time I find a way to make his job easier, he finds a way to circumvent me.
Yes!! I am at the point where I feel that this is personal. I feel like I am working my butt off to find ways to make this work... and Moon isn't helping me at all. There is only so many ways to ride a barrel horse and when I see people go out and make all kinds of mistakes and still manage to make clean runs and win money and I am busting my ass to not make ANY mistakes and still can't get my damn horse to run around the barrels consistently...I does piss me off. Part of me just wants to curl up in a ball and cry. Part of me is determined to figure out a way to turn Moon into the horse I KNOW he is capable of being.
All I can say is...I must have a guardian angel that doesn't want me to quit...because every time I am to the point of complete defeat...Someone pops into my life and feeds me information that inspires me to keep going.
To be continued...