Thursday, January 16, 2014

Kickin Off The New Year

Put my first run of the year on Moon today. I'm using the term 'run' lightly here. Moon seemed a bit confused...He started off like a rocket, but then I felt him hesitate, sort of look around and I swear I could hear him wondering if he was supposed to r.u.n. or if this was just practice. Must have looked like practice to him because after that he didn't put much effort into it.

I gave him a little mooch as he was coming out of 1st barrel, but he was in float mode and I thought, 'What the heck, let's just let him run where he's comfortable and I'll concentrate on what I need to fix on myself.'. It worked. I have a very good mental picture in my head of where I need to be pushing Moon to for that 2nd barrel and I just picked my spot and let my body be on autopilot.

Last fall I was working Frosty on the pattern and he has progressed to the point where he knows he is going to take a turn and is anticipating it a little bit. I had to work on driving him on into the turn and all of the sudden I had a bit of an epiphany. Several things came together in my mind and after all of this time I finally have a crystal clear picture of exactly WHERE I need to drive Moon to in that pocket.

I know it sounds ludicrous, but one of the reasons I have struggled with that 2nd (and sometimes 3rd) barrel with Moon is that I never could get a clear idea of exactly WHERE I needed to get him too. I'd get the idea and then lose it, sort of figure it out again and then not remember. For whatever reason, I happened to glance down Frosty's shoulder that day to make sure he was far enough into the turn and something clicked in my brain. It was like someone flipped a switch in my head and I have never lost sight of that vision.

So when I say I let my body be on autopilot...That means, if my brain KNOWS it has to get Moon to a certain, very definitive spot, my body just automatically rides to that position and will automatically make any corrections my horse needs to get him to that spot. No more wondering what to do with my hands, or worrying about his shape or any of the other multitude of things I used to think and worry about.

I did sort of sit up a couple of times a few strides out from the 2nd barrel, old habits trying to rear their head, but I was focused enough on the position I needed to get to that I didn't get all panicky and start doing anything stupid. Moon was leaning into the turn pretty hard long before we got there...We've both got some bad habits to break...but for once, I just used my body and hands like I know how to and made him hold his position until he got to the spot I wanted him to be at and then I just let him turn.

The next stride is still a tish dicey. The instant Moon started to turn, I felt my toes tip down and I though, 'Crap!'. But you know what?...I have NEVER actually felt that before, so I was like 'Whoo-hooo, I can actually feel what's happening.'. Dropping my toes is how Moon gets me tipped over his shoulder when he turns and that is exactly what happened this time too. I'm pretty used to it by now and just go with it. I know as soon as Moon takes the next stride and I can look up again, I'll be back in position.

Moon took a few pretty fast strides coming out of 2nd, but then slowed back down again. Okay...I'll admit...I am not used to Moon slowing down during a run. It felt a little weird...I don't know if he was checking himself out during the run or what. This is his first run back since his injections and maybe he is testing for or waiting for pain and it's not there. I dunno. Strange, but in a way, I kinda liked it.

Anyway, Moon is galloping for 3rd and I'm kinda thinking about why he isn't running real hard instead of thinking about my 3rd turn and I let my eyes drop to a spot just in front of the 3rd barrel. Instantly, I felt Moon setting for the turn...only about 3 strides too soon. I yanked my eyes up to the correct spot and thought, 'Sorry bud, my bad.'. And then sort of had to kick him on around the 3rd barrel. Interestingly enough...once again, my hands just did what they were supposed to. I didn't even have to think about it. Now that was cool!

This time, Moon really set me on my ear coming around the barrel. LOL. He is such a turd! I was really trying to get my toes back up, but my foot slipped in the stirrup and my rubber band broke. My whole left leg went back and my spur hooked under his pad. I thought, 'Oh great. I hate it when he does this to me.'. For the first time that I can ever remember, instead of taking off the instant he felt me drastically out of position, Moon slowed down. I got myself pushed up and let him gallop home. It was a blazing, 19.2 second run (snort). He was just out of the money in the 3D. ROFLMAO!!!

I'm fairly confused by Moon. I don't know if he finally just decided there is no sense running fast, this idiot can't ride me or if the injections removed pain he was having and he is more relaxed during his run and not panicking when things get a little wonky or what. He's not in rodeo shape, but he's clocked better times when he has been more out of shape than he is now. I guess we'll see next week what he feels like. This time it just felt like he was out there having fun.

I'm not going to worry about getting tipped forward right now. I know WHY it's happening, but I can't really fix it until Moon and I are in synch getting TO the barrels. I trust that after a few runs of me solidly riding him to the correct spot, Moon will stop anticipating so much. I have never been able to help him with any consistency, so it's no wonder the poor horse thinks he should just go ahead and do what he thinks is best. Once he figures out that I am going consistently keep him in position, he'll start relaxing and his turns will flow better. We won't have that hard break,  'I'm turning now' action that throws me forward.

A little bit of me wonders WHY it has taken so long for me to get a fix on the correct spot for those turns and I'm a little astounded at how clear the picture was when it popped into my head, on a different horse no less...But most of me says, 'Who cares! I got it now.'. Oddly enough, that is how my mind works, if I can get a 'snapshot' of how I want something to happen in my head, I can easily make my hands and body work toward accomplishing that. But trying to get my hands and body to do this and that, so that this and that happens, when I don't have a clear picture in my head...It doesn't work.

The fun is just beginning though. I'm headed to the other side of the valley for a couple of days. Thanks to some conversations with Cindy D., she got us into a versatility/ranch horse clinic and I am headed out to hang with her and CutNJump. I don't care how old mature you get, a girls weekend?...with horses?...It just doesn't get any better than that. :-)


Cindy D. said...

These posts that you do on barrel racing and the mechanics that go into it, they have always fascinated me. I wish I could "feel" things on my horse that other people say I should be able to feel. But I don't, and I always wonder why I don't. Is it me? Is it my horse? Who knows.

I guess we just keep at it and figure it out as we go. :-)

Cindy D. said...

ps. We will have none of that maturity crap this weekend!

fernvalley01 said...

sounds so different! bet it did feel weird. And lucky you ! Sounds like a great visit headed your way! I am jealous!

C-ingspots said...

Who cares is right! You got that picture now, so just go with it. Sounds like a fun and very informative ride on Moon. Do you think that part of his slowing down when you're out of whack coincides with him feeling more comfortable? Or is he just maturing and not being such a poop? Whatever the reasons are - it is what it is! Have fun with the girls this w/e! I am jealous too. :)

Cut-N-Jump said...

It is so awesome when things finally just 'click'. I'm still trying to get there some days and other days it happens and I have no idea why? Or how we did it...

I'm looking forward to this weekend too. Maturity? Who needs it? Hahahaha

kestrel said...

You get to hang with CNJ and Cindy?! Awww man I am so jealous. Next year I plan on being down there, this cold stuff stinks!

You and moon are finally becoming a team, and because he is such a hound you really will be able to ride for the spot for the rest of your life. The Moons of this world are a gift, even though it doesn't seem like it at times, hahaha!
Have fun and say hi, and take lots of pics please!