Thursday, January 30, 2014

Inching Up

Another nice run on Frosty today. Oh man, his turns are so nice. He didn't bobble between 1st and 2nd this time and he caught his lead change before the turn. The run on the other hand...

Well...I can't quit put my finger on it.

I can feel Frosty gather to run and he starts to stretch out and then he snaps back. It's like he is a rubber band that you spread with your fingers and then it pulls them together again. I'm getting that feeling every stride.

I don't know if it is because he really doesn't know how to just stretch out and run or...

If there is something physical that is preventing him from stretching into a run.

That is kind of how it feels. Like he wants to really lengthen out that stride and then something causes him to shorten it up.

His time only came up a 10th of a second. From a 21.9 last week to a 21.8 this week. I was hoping for a little better than that, but his pattern was smoother and his turns are just plain f.u.n., so I'm going to just stay on this track. The fun thing is he was 2 holes out of the money last week and only 1 hole out of the money this week. If we can just keep inching up on his times, while keeping his pattern so pretty, he'll be in the money here pretty quick. :-D. LOL...That's actually pretty easy to do at this arena. The 1D is pretty strong, the 2D is really strong and the 3D is just tough, tough, tough. There isn't exactly a consistent 4D set here like there is at home, at this arena at least. If the truth be told, Frosty is going to have to come up at least a full second to be a competitive 4D horse in my Colorado area. But hey, if he can start picking up checks in the 4D here and stay this consistent on his pattern until he's ready to up it a few more notches...I'm good with that.

I actually think the horse has a lot more potential than just a 4D horse. I can just feel the power that he is very careful about containing. It's just that weird stride thing that is holding him back. I've contemplated contacting a chiro here, but I don't really think it's a chiropractic issue. I think it's a musculature issue. I just haven't had much luck getting the horse to really stretch forward and use his topline, which is what he needs to start doing to free his back up and start building muscle over his back, loin and hip. THAT has to happen before he can really start to stretch through and extend his running stride.

After employing every training tactic I could think of and/or get from other people, I got to thinking...

I need to start working this horse with some side reins and ground poles. The other day when I was thinking about it, I longed him over a couple of cavalletti and he just isn't interested in lifting his back at all. I mean, if a horse isn't willing to stretch forward and lift his back even a little to help him get over a low set cavalletti, there's some real tightness problems going on. I'm going to start working him in side reins 3 times a week and build into a set of ground poles and see if I can get him to start stretching through and lifting his back. It's probably going to take awhile to tear those tight muscles apart and get him limbered up, but it's got to happen.

In the meantime, I am going to continue to run him once a week and just go on with him. One thing about it, at these slow times, I really get a chance to practice the things *I* need to be working on reading my pocket, shaping and looking up once I'm into my turn.

I also took Heather Carroll with me this week...and hope that she can continue to go with me. She's working on a mare right now that needs a lot of 'soak' time and some exhibitions on her before she's ready to go back to competition. Poor Heather. Her mare was acting up just standing at the gate while she was waiting for her exhibition and I went all Drill Sargent on her. I scared a friend of her's that was hanging around and she promptly disappeared. LOL. But it worked. We got her mare calmed down, Heather learned what she needs to do to make that happen and all in all, I think it was a very successful day for her too. Heather has some 'gate issues' of her own and we are really focusing on her learning how to get mentally prepared to make a run. Learning mental preparation is a huge, huge thing for any competitor, but especially so for a barrel racer. Nervous and unfocused thoughts transfer to your horse and then they get nervous and unfocused. My own daughter used to get so mad at me when I'd go Drill Sargent on her, but Heather was a good sport and once she grasped what I was having her do and why, she settled in to just make it happen...and both her and her horse's nerves disappeared. She went in to make her exhibition and when her mare messed up, she just got her under control again, made her turn around, do the pattern correctly and that was that. I love working with people like Heather. They want to learn, so they can do well and this girl is a worker. Whatever you show her, she works on. She's like a sponge and I'm only too happy to empower her with whatever little bit of knowledge I have picked up.


cdncowgirl said...

haha it's always easier to have someone OTHER than your mom be the drill sergeant ;)

I'm sure you've had these ideas already on your own for Frosty, but just on the teeny chance you haven't...
have you tried putting your BOT sheet on him for awhile before you saddle and work him? Is there anywhere you can do hill work? And, this may seem weird, but is it possible he's a bit afraid to let himself out to run?

(I really hate suggesting stuff to you because you are SO much more knowledgeable than I am! lol)

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

No worries...those are all really good suggestions.

Yes, he gets his BOT sheet for several hours before and the night after a 'run' and any time I think he feels a bit tight and/or tender over the hips. Those sheets are wonderful!!!

I also so belly lifts with him before and do some tail stretching exercises to help him release tension. I do have to be careful to time his warm-ups just so before he runs because he warms up good, but if he stands around for very long, he doesn't re-warm up as good.

I don't have any place handy to do hill work here. But I do hill work with him in Colorado on a regular basis and didn't notice any significant changes in him because of it.

And Yes, I do believe that he is a little bit afraid to run. Not only does he not really know how, I can tell he is a little bit intimidated by his own ability. Being somewhat athletic is all so new to Frosty. LOL

Carroll Farm said...

Thanks for all the great things you said about my girl. She is fun to work with and SO excited to be working and learning with you. You are full of a knowledge that I don't have (since the horse thing is all new to me) and Josh and I really appreciate the time you take with her. She is excited to go again. And the Drill Sargent - you didn't scare Heather - sometimes they need it!

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I enjoyed having her with me. She is such a good girl (nice young lady!!). I knew I didn't scare Heather. She is used to my 'let's get serious here' face and barking orders by now. Her friend...Not so much. LOL.

RuckusButt said...

Reading your last 2 posts back to back as I have makes me wonder if Frosty wouldn't also benefit from some flat work a-la-Bolen.

Or just some plain gallop sets? Might help his intimidation to know it's ok to run hard (you can rate him later). SOOO not trying to give advice, just offering ideas...which probably aren't worth much.

I have also found an equine massage therapist to be very good at addressing some of these issues. My Armani can be stiff, especially after one crash we had, but I didn't think he needed chiro. The massage therapist (a good one!) made a big difference in his willingness to use himself better. Mani is similar in that he won't work harder than he has to, even though he is more than capable of being super fancy.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I'm thinking maybe try long lines over the ground poles. Take all of the excess weight, saddle, rider, etc., off of him and encourage him to stretch. You will also be able to see him moving and may be able to pinpoint the problem that way.

Gallop sets as well, letting him know its ok to flat out Go!

Truth be told, by the time we all comment, you've probably already found your answer and set a course of action to fix it.