On Day 1, one of the things that Ronny talked about was warm-up. As per normal, the majority of us were using the full riding area to warm up, walk a little, long trot a little....and lots of loping. That is the standard barrel horse warm-up. Ronny gathered us up and talked a little about working on a more precise warm-up routine. He believes that long trotting smaller circles (20-30-40 foot depending on the horse), stopping, backing, and rolling back is a more effective method of warming a horse up than lots of loping in a large area. In fact, he doesn't believe that loping is even particularly necessary to warm a horse up prior to making a run. The reason being...long trotting is the gait that most closely resembles running, so therefore is better at activating the muscles the horse will use during the run, and working in a smaller area more closely resembles the type of work the horse will be doing as well. Stopping, making a horse take a step or two back (this depends on the lightness of the horse), bringing them back through themselves and walking out in the other direction before picking up the long trot again is all about making sure the horse is light and soft in the bridle, as well as effective to make sure their shoulders are light and mobile.
I'm as guilty as the next person of taking up a lot of space to warm my horses up. Especially with Moon. He just likes to dog along so much that I just want to get him moving f.o.r.w.a.r.d., preferably with some energy. LOL.
The morning of Day 2, I did a fair bit of walking before asking Moon to pick up the pace . But Moon was acting like he was 110 years old and could barely put one foot in front of the other. Moving like an old, old man is probably Moon's most annoying habit. I've had had to work on him before to get him to pick up the pace and get him to put a little energy into his movement. Moon's tendency to not really want to move out is actually a form of passive aggressive resistance. It also creates this huge gap between his 'normal' energy level and what he exhibits at competition time, which is a big reason *I* have a hard time transitioning into competition mode myself. I didn't have my over-and-under with me, so I just gave up working Moon in the riding area and we hit the desert at a long trot. I will most definitely be revisiting the 'get a move on' problem with Moon.
When it was our turn to work the pattern, I told Ronny, my goal was to make one run. It worked. Moon was a lot freer this run compared to how he was the day before and it just worked. I thought it was good enough to quit on and Ronny thought it was pretty good too. Moon was relaxed before, during and immediately following the run, so obviously he didn't need anything else. So I loosened his cinch and that was it for him.
I got Frosty saddled up and knew he was going to be a putz. He was actively looking for something...anything to spook at. He is so obvious. LOL. I finally had to get after him a little and of course he thought about blowing up. Such a dork. I hit the desert on him as well. Trotting up and down a couple of hills is the perfect thing to take the starch out of his shorts. ;-).
He had been good on the pattern the day before and I was hoping that he would be a one run and done as well. I mean, to me, that is always the goal. Alas, Frosty decided he wanted to be lazy, lazy, lazy. I knew he wasn't going to make his lead change between the 1st and 2nd barrel before we ever got there. Frosty was just in la la land. So I stopped him, backed him up and made him lope off in the correct lead. He stumbled and dinked around the 2nd turn, flipped out of his lead and didn't change back at the 3rd barrel, so he stumbled and flopped around that turn. Out of the pattern we went, circled around and came right back at it. This time I asked him for more speed and he snapped around his 1st turn better, but he didn't even attempt to change leads and this time I just let him do it wrong. Instead of letting him leave for the 3rd barrel, I made him keep turning the 2nd barrel, with speed and getting after him until he got uncomfortable enough to do something about being in the wrong lead. There isn't much a horse can do except break gait and pick up the correct lead, at which time you stop getting after them and let them lope around the barrel until they are quiet. We headed to 3rd and he made his turn. Out of the pattern we went, circled around and came right back for the 3rd trip. This time Frosty decided it was a lot easier to just change that lead at the 2nd barrel and we had a good pattern. So that was it for him.
I did have to laugh though, the one problem I was having with Frosty last Fall didn't surface one single time. No matter how much room I gave him to run to the 1st barrel, he never once leaned or faded into the pocket. A little time off and Frosty forgot all about it. LOL.