First rodeo of the year, entered and coming up this weekend.
I dunno if I feel ready for it.
In fact, I actually had to call my husband and get a little pep talk before I convinced myself to make the entry call in. He reminded me that IS why I am down here. It's not just a big ole vacation to avoid the cold. (sigh)
Moon's in good enough shape to make a rodeo run...
(Sorry, cannot get picture to load!!! Urrrggg!)
We'll see what his attitude is like during his warm-up run tomorrow.
I put him back on his honor using the refreshed skills from the clinic and had a bit of a tif the first day. I had gotten lazy about correcting Moon's continual tendency to fade off to the right and when I got after him to stay between my legs, he got radical about it. Typical Moon response...ignore, ignore...totally overreact. Charge around like an idiot and act like I was beating on him and then do everything twice as hard and fast as necessary. It's so irritating. (ggrrrr)
But instead of letting him thrash his way through it like I have been doing, I made him sit his butt down and spin to the right, then spin to the left, then pick up and track out, sit down, back and sweep right, track out, sit down, back up, sweep right....
He was huffing and puffing before long and started hunting for actual cues vs. just overreacting.
Working on inside bends and counter-arcs, I realized that I have let Moon get into the habit of poking his ribs to the outside of a left hand circle. It's minute, but it's persistent...and that would explain a lot of his tendency to want to fade out of his pocket going to the 2nd barrel when he runs. He starts poking that ribcage out long before he gets to the pocket and by the time he gets to the pocket he's started to cant his hip away from the turn as well. Once that ribcage and hip start heading out like that, it's too easy for a horse to drop onto their front-end and set for the turn...often just a little too early to clear the barrel.
I'd say I got my money's worth out of that working cowhorse clinic!!
I've played with the circling thing a lot with him a lot these last couple of days and one of the things I have really realized is that going to the left, Moon doesn't need ANY lead hand to help him. A lead hand is usually the inside hand and basically it points the way you want the horse to go. It's typically a little ahead of the outside hand and can just be forward or forward and up or forward and out. It just depends on how and what kind of help your horse needs to get set into his pockets.
In Moon's case, using a lead hand when going to the left just causes him to anticipate the turn....hence the pushed out ribcage and hip. I already had a pretty good fix on the fact that for Moon, the outside rein was more important when setting him up for his left hand turns and I have been mentally and physically working on that. For whatever reason, I am not as physically comfortable using my right hand (arm) to 'check' him when I'm running. I know I should be using it, but it's not particularly natural for me the way it is on my left hand (arm), so when I get to thinking about it, I was locking up and then forgetting to let go of it. That resulted in some crazy turns at that 2nd barrel last year.
Now I finally realize I was just thinking about too much and confusing the shit out of Moon. I was trying to drive forward with my lead hand (the inside) and checking with the rudder (the outside) and my brain was just locking up. I've figured out that if I don't worry about the lead hand, just let it drop to his neck and keep it almost even with my rudder hand, all I have to do is think about checking him on the outside when I feel him start to push his ribcage and hip out, drive him into his pocket and then let him turn. My inside hand naturally comes up like it should when he starts to come out of his turn. It makes a lot more sense to me than all of that rate, shape stuff I was trying to do.
Not that the rate, shape thing was wrong. It all depends on the horse. Some horses always need a lot of help, just not Moon. Less is more with him. Actually, with Moon, most of the time, if I just think about it, he is doing it. I just need to continue to practice my thinking powers when I'm competing on him. Not thinking powers for what *I* should be doing, but thinking powers about where I want him to go.
In spite of my hesitancy to enter the first rodeo, I am feeling pretty confident about this year. I sorta feel like I hit rock bottom last year...so #1-It can't really get any worse, but also, #2-I feel like ME again. I'm not trying to ride in a manner that is uncomfortable and unnatural for me anymore. I've finally figured out how to meld new information into what I do, without letting it completely overwhelm me.
I guess my confidence level needed a boost and although I have slowly been piecing my psychy back together after EW so effectively tore me apart at the last clinic of his I went to, it was nice to go to a clinic and get a few compliments. It's not like I have a fragile ego, but I sure had a hard time wrapping my brain around EW's nasty comment that, 'Your horse has a college education and you ride like you are in grade school.' I just couldn't figure out how, if I was such a bad rider, how I managed to put that 'college education' on my horse. I mean, Moon is a smart and talented horse, but he didn't learn it all on his own. After much thought on the matter and then listening to Troy talk about making movements and cues lighter and less obvious every chance you get, I realize that delivery is everything. If EW would have said, 'Look, you have put a college education on that horse and are still trying to ride him like he's in grade school.' it probably would have sunk in more effectively. That's probably what he meant when he said it (I'll give him the benefit), but obviously the 2nd time around EW and I just weren't communicating and I got the distinct feeling that he just did not like me. That's fine. I can deal with that (even though it hurt my feelings a little, cause I generally get along well with people with his brusque kind of personality). I like straight shooters and don't want to be coddled into a false sense of 'you're doing great', when actually I'm not getting it at all. But he was more than a little mean about it and I'm not paying anyone to be mean. I think it's a standard option on equine forums on the internet!! ;-)
I guess the moral of the story is, just because someone makes you feel bad or incompetent or you don't understand what they are trying to explain to you...If you really want to do something, keep trying...keep learning...keep working...and keep looking for that someone who CAN help you put it all together in your head (sometimes they show up in the oddest places). Failure is only failure if you let it make you quit trying.
LOL...So that's my little pep talk for the year. ;-). Sometimes you have to dig deep for that determination, but if you want it bad enough, eventually it will come together. Now get out there and ride!! :-)