If you've read comments in the last post, you know that we had a decent run in Cortez. It was clean and by the end of the rodeo, it held up for 8th place. I felt like I could have rode Moon stronger on the way to and around the 2nd barrel. I checked him several times across the pen and had him rated down pretty good by the time we got there.
The next night in Price I was determined to not do that and was much happier with myself. Unfortunately, I either asked Moon to wrap the barrel a little too much and/or he got hung in the dirt and we pulled the 2nd barrel down. It was deep dirt with a lot of grip. Sadly, we had the best time by 4/10ths of a second, but I couldn't really be mad about anything. Sometimes a barrel going down just happens and since we didn't whack it going in, I had to just be happy that we has such a strong run.
The deep, grippy ground did take it's toll on Moon's back though. He was reactive over his loin after his run that night and I spent a lot of time rubbing him down and cold-hosing. The next morning he was still a little tight, so I hand-walked him to loosen him up, did lots of stretches and then put a gentle ride on him.
We headed up to Herriman for our last run and I made sure to get there in plenty of time to give Moon a long, slow warm-up. He warmed up good, although he was a little hot and wanting to be flippy in his hindquarter. I didn't want to overdo the warmup, but I did have to put him on the fence and work on getting him to use his backend and lighten up those front feet. I was trying very hard not to get into a fight with him, but sometimes Moon makes that hard to do. He can be so damn pig-headed. Finally, I just had to get after him and make him settle in to working properly and he finally lightened up those front feet and started moving them.
I wasn't trying to be a fatalist, but I pretty much figured this was going to be the toughest run for us. My only game plan was to get him to run as deep into that 2nd pocket as I could and just hope that I could get him around the barrel. I knew without a doubt he was going to want to set his front feet and flip his hindquarter out.
He ran across the pen toward 2nd barrel in good form, I got my hands set and was ready to just drive him into the turn. About 4 strides out, I felt him start to drop on his front-end and that is where we both reverted back to our bad habits. He was dropping into the turn way too early and I lost my concentration. He dived into the turn and I reverted to trying to pull him off of the barrel with the outside rein. Oh boy, was I pissed!!
After our run, I went straight back to the warm-up pen, where there were barrels set up and I put a powerful tune-up on him. It's a tough call when you know that a horse is somewhat sore and that most likely played some part in his setting up so early at the 2nd barrel...but at the same time, it's also partly just a bad habit and we have to break it. Moon was being a pig about rating straight and it took about 20 minutes to get it through his head...You ARE going to do this properly!! I think he was more upset about having his normal routine disrupted than he was actually feeling discomfort from a sore loin. Establishing routines is important, but they can backfire.
It didn't help that I had taken Shooter with me on this trip and he spent the entire weekend being a complete ass; whinnying, pawing and carrying on like a fool the whole time...whether Moon was at the trailer with him or not. I didn't really care about how Shooter was acting...he's got to learn sometime...but he sure kept Moon worried about what was going on at 'his' trailer. The trailer becomes home to a competition horse...that is their place to eat, drink and rest. I knew Shooter's behavior was disturbing Moon's quiet time and he did take pains to try to educate Shooter...Numerous times when Shooter would start pawing, Moon would pin his ears and reach over and bite him on the shoulder. Shooter would get to swinging his butt around and Moon would sigh and push him back over to his own spot and when Shooter would start banging his water bucket around and splashing water, Moon would snark at Shooter and then stick his nose in the bucket to quiet the racket. In a way, it was interesting, because I have never seen Moon take an ounce of interest in what another horse was doing when tied to the trailer, but then, I guess I have never had one as outwardly rambunctious as Shooter was. I tried tying Shooter on the opposite side of the trailer, but that seemed to make Moon even more worried. Probably because he had no control over monitoring Shooter's behavior. 'Educator' is not a word I would have ever bestowed on Moon before, but he certainly seemed to take an abnormal interest in his little brother on this trip and for the first time ever seemed to be trying to actually teach another horse proper etiquette.
Anyway, after getting Moon taken care of, I loaded up and headed for home. I wanted to drive in the cool of the night anyway and I was still so mad, I knew it would be hours before I got tired. Besides, driving gives me time to think and sort things out. By the time I got home, I had come to the conclusion that I had just expected too much. Dinging that 2nd barrel has been a long standing problem for Moon and I. It is without a doubt, MY weakest point in the pattern and the point where all of Moon and I's problems started. I realized I had made a fatal error in judgement when I decided to let Moon run across and just try to drive him as deep into the pocket as I could. I knew he was going to want to dive on that barrel and instead of driving him on and hoping for the best, I should have checked and shaped him across the arena like I did in Cortez. That way I would have had control of him and been able to prevent him from dropping into the turn. I allowed myself to get too excited about the times Moon is capable of clocking and went for the win instead of the clean run. Moon has proven over and over that even if I keep him a little shut down between 1st and 2nd that he can still clock well enough to put us in the money. We (as a team) aren't solid enough yet to run balls to the wall toward the 2nd barrel, get shaped and make the turn properly. We just aren't there...YET!