Well, thanks to my buddy, 'A'....I'm a little richer after this weekend of rodeoing. Her smokin' fast time dropped Moon's respectable run of 18.11 on Sunday, from waffling around the bottom end of the Open times to picking up a the Incentive check. The GCPRA has what is basically a 2D payout, but is a 7/10th of a second off of the fastest time, instead of the standard 1/2 second. It's actually very encouraging to people that have a horse that is running well, but not exactly smokin' the fast times and/or is just being seasoned. Landing a healthy check is NEVER a bad thing!!
Moon's Saturday run was not bad, he just didn't fire real hard to 1st and then coming out of the 2nd barrel, he had more slide going on than he could handle and Moon did what I do appreciate about him the most...He handled it. There were a lot of horses going down on that 2nd barrel on Saturday, so the fact that Moon handled the ground and just blew off the turn a little bit?...Yea, I'm good with that. It cost us a lot of time because anytime a horse gets to running sideways you aren't going to clock real great. I was pretty proud of myself for saving the 3rd barrel though. Moon was way out of position and is normal...when he got up to the 3rd barrel, he tried to slice back into the pocket and I was mentally functioning well enough to keep him off the barrel.
I was pretty darned happy with my Sunday run, even knowing I wasn't going to draw a check in the Open. That 18.11 was the best time we have clocked in quite some time.
And then I went and looked at the pictures the photographer had taken...And I gagged. Not one good picture in the bunch. I knew I had been heavier handed than I wanted to be on the backside of 2nd and I knew I looked down at Moon's shoulders at both 2nd and 3rd...But...
I have worked so hard to make myself sit up there and ride him into his pockets...and now I'm pulling on his head on the backsides of the turns?...And looking straight down at his neck in every picture? Lovely! Just lovely!!
Well, we shall endeavor to persevere. I'm forcing myself to not pull on his head going into the turns, but I'm not riding in, what you would call, a relaxed manner. I'm simply sitting down and forcing myself NOT TO PULL. I'll just have to try harder to get more relaxed and let Moon flow through the turns. I think it's really about Moon and I re-learning to trust each other. He's slowly getting the idea that I'm not going to get in his face before the turns and is wanting to free flow into them better and I am slowly getting the idea that as long as I don't pull back...he won't duck in. I am still pretty locked into looking between his ears past the barrel, as a way to make myself not start pulling again and then we get into the turns and we're both like...Now what?
I have one saving grace in that respect...I only ever use a plain ring-snaffle on him or that little chain-mouthpiece bit I got for him a while back. Neither of them are capable of making him do much more than gap at the mouth, so at least I am not shutting him down anymore. It just looks ugly in pictures and tells me I need to continue working on giving him more rein.
I did a lot of mulling some things over this last week and because of it, I changed up Moon's pre-race day routine...Normally I either give him the day off or we just go for a light ride. In warm-up I have been just letting Moon put around at his own pace...If he's hot, we lope it out, if he's not, we don't. More often than not, Moon has been getting overly docile during warm-up. Just barely wanting to move. Thanks to a friend's advice, I rode him pretty hard the day before we left for the rodeo and Saturday morning, I didn't let him put around like an old man. Moon being a very introverted horse...that acting overly docile and not wanting to move out?...That is a form of resistance. He knows a run is coming up and he is sinking into himself and holding his anxiety in. Then when it's time to go in the gate...It's too much and he loses it.
By changing my pre-race day routine and forcing him to warm-up in more of a free-moving manner, he burns off that excess energy and sucked in anxiety and he was just as good as could be about going in the gate and lining up for his runs this weekend. I hadn't noticed that corresponding feature about him before...but I sure noticed the difference this weekend. I've been treating Moon a little too much like a prima-donna barrel horse and not like the working type horse he is. He is in good shape and has a lot more stamina than I give him credit for. He focuses better and runs better if he is a little on the tired side than when he is as fresh as a daisy.
Now, of course, by Sunday...the edge was completely off of him and there was no need to really force the warm-up. He was truly docile and relaxed. The difference is easy to tell, I just hadn't really put that much thought into what he was thinking before this last week. I just walked and long-trotted him out a little bit beforehand, kept him from getting stiff on me for the couple of runners before us and he went right in. He had a tiny bit of a lock-up right when he had to turn to face the barrels...It was a left-hand gate and we had to walk in, center up and either turn to face the barrels to take off or we could do a spin around and take off. You are not allowed to circle at rodeos. I could tell Moon was trying to decide what he wanted to do...turn and face or spin and run. So I give him a second to think about it and let him decide what he was more comfortable doing. I could see him cutting his eyes to the left and the right and I guess he decided that the fence was too close for a good spin around, so he just turned, faced and hauled butt.
Of course, one of the reasons Moon was pretty dang docile on Sunday morning was because he ended up getting his butt worked off on Saturday evening. We ran Sat. morning and because I had a good parking spot, where I could set up his pen and he wasn't standing on hard ground, I opted to stay the night. I only took Moon with me this weekend because I have been getting the feeling that he needs a little alone time. He is getting far too buddy/trailer sour and I find that exceptionally irritating and won't tolerate much of it. So after I decided to stay, I set up his pen, turned him loose, fed and watered him and settled down with a good book. Moon seemed restless and irritated. He was not real happy about being alone and he kept pushing on the fence. When it was time for the afternoon performance barrel racing, I wanted to watch because I had some friends running, so I haltered him and tied him to the trailer. I have long tied Moon with a hard and fast knot because he is a regular wizard at getting himself untied.
I walked over to watch the barrel racing and right after my last friend ran, the announcer says, 'There's a horse loose on the north side of the arena and he is headed across the desert.'. I looked over my shoulder, but didn't see a loose horse and then we got to joking that was probably my horse. I really was only joking...I mean, Moon was tied with a hard knot AND in his pen. But I figured I better go check and sure as shit...
Moon was long gone. Leadrope untied and pen torn down. I thought, 'Oh, he'll just be on the other side of those bushes grazing.'. So I take off walking...and walking...and I'm not seeing my horse. I see a Parks and Rec. guy out there in a pickup and he is way out in the desert. I watched him get out of his pickup, run into some bushes and a little while later he comes out and goes to get in his pickup. I was hollering and waving at him as I was walking along the irrigation canal bank, looking down into the desert for signs of Moon...and he gets in his pickup, gets up on the bank and backs up to me. I asked him if he was looking for a loose horse and he says, 'Yea..and it saw me and took off.'. By now we are well over a mile from the arena, so I get in with him and we are driving down the canal bank and I'm searching the desert for signs of Moon. After another couple of miles, the P&R guy says, 'There he is.'...and there was Moon...on the canal bank...at a long trot...headed north. It took us a couple more miles to catch up to him. Moon seemed to know where he was going. I swear that horse was headed home. Finally the P&R guy gets ahead of him and I jumped out and Moon stopped dead. Looked at me...Looked to both sides to see if he had an escape route...let out a big, old sigh and let me catch him. WHAT A DICK!!!
I had to ride him all the way back to the arena and by the time I got back...I was Pissed Off!!!! So Moon got to be a reining horse that night. LOL. I saddled him up and we went to work in the arena. We worked on every reining horse maneuver there is...and some cutting horse maneuvers...and the barrel pattern...and some dressagey stuff. Moon was trying his level best to be as good as he possibly could. He knew I was pissed and he wasn't sure how long it was going to take for me to become unpissed. Hahahahaha.
I will say...The old horse still has it in him. He was impressing the heck out of a bunch of cowboys sitting down at the end of the arena. Moon can do a beautiful galloping piroutte...not exactly what you would call Grand Prix Dressage horse style...but better than most reining horses and those guys thought that was cool as heck. And they liked the way he could canter sideways, do a leadchange and canter sideways the other way...I forget what the dressage term for it is....and again...It's most definitely NOT true dressage style stuff...Just ranch-horse renditions. But it's still pretty cool. :-D.
I have learned one thing though...Compared to Little John...My horse's stops SUCK!! I can ride them right up into the stop and then there is that one split second before they collapse into the stop?...Yea...LJ just melts and my horses get a little stiff right at the base of the neck. I seriously need to get get lessons from the reining horse trainer to find out how to fix that.
So poor Moon, he had a pretty tough weekend. Had to be all alone, got his butt worked into the dirt and then tried his best to make good runs and I fell down on my end a little bit. But we are getting there again. Getting this gate issue thing figured out is a big deal.