I didn't mention in the previous post that LJ also went with. I went down to the race the night before so I could get a little practice time in with LJ and hopefully a little help. I just cannot seem to get LJ to release the barrel enough to make a proper turn. He sucks into the pockets so tight that he is struggling to keep forward momentum through the turn.
Part of the 'problem' lies with LJ's breeding AND his previous training. It takes work to turn a horse like LJ into a barrel horse. Barrel horses have to use their hind legs like a rudder. Reining bred/trained horses use their hind legs as brakes. LJ is never going to need much of a pocket. He's little and he is so athletic it's almost sick. When we get it right, one of LJ's 'gifts' will be the fact that he will be able to run and turn in 1/2 the space that bigger horses require. But, it is something that is going to take me a little while to get used to.
Come to find out, the ticket to getting LJ to ease up on sucking into the turn might be to just haul and practice on him in unfamiliar places. LOL. He was so enthralled with everything going on around him and so happy to be in the middle of all that activity, that he worked the pattern exceptionally nice.
Huh! Well, that was an easy fix. LOL. I am so excited to get LJ running. He is going to be so much fun. My little red hotrod!! Next on our list of 'must-do's' is going with a friend to training track and working on teaching the little red man how to really stretch out and run. I am so curious to find out just how fast that little guy can go. I've had him stretched out a bit by himself and the length of his stride is impressive for such a little guy. But matching him up against another horse and getting a chance to gauge his real speed should be a blast.
So day 2 of the races and I was smirking to myself when it came time to run Frosty. I knew falling down the day before would make him a little more eager to actually change that rear lead. He had kind of run by the 1st barrel the first day and I know that at this arena I do have a tendency to do that. This run though, I set Frosty into that 1st barrel perfectly. He came around well, if not snappy and started running across to 2nd. He was in good shape. Frosty was in the right position, so I just dropped my outside hand to the horn and let him run into his pocket. It was 2 more strides before he actually got into the turn. When I felt him hit the spot where he is supposed to make his turn, I felt him trying to change his rear lead. He really dropped on his front end and his butt kind of popped up. It wasn't a quick turn, but Frosty got the job done and finished the turn in the correct lead, front AND rear. LOL. His 3rd was awesome.
I do realize that I need to be helping him more at the 2nd barrel a little more. I dropped my outside hand to the horn way too soon and I'm not really riding Frosty into the pocket. When talking to a friend later, she said it didn't really look like he 'set' for the barrel, just dropped into the pocket on his front end. So I need to work a little harder so I'm helping Frosty a little and not just letting him drop into that turn on his front-end. I need to remember that just because Frosty is slow and easy to ride doesn't mean I can get sloppy in my riding.
Then it was Moon's turn. I had the same goals for his 2nd run + one more...provided the going in the gate and finding the left-barrel went well. Moon got a little riled up right when we rode to the same area we had parked in the day before, but I just kept circling him, left, then right, then left and making him focus on making perfect little circles until he calmed down and got soft. After that he stood and waited patiently. This time when it was time to go in the building, he walked up there. Ears up and on tippy-toes...ready to leap to action...but it was still a walk and he never once thought about leaving. I let him tippy-toe in the building slowly so his eyes had time to adjust and I could tell that this time, he was looking at the left-hand barrel and ready to head that way. I took a big breath, released it and let the reins out and Moon just glided forward and then took off running. Our departure was perfect, so I focused on my 3rd goal...leaving that left hand barrel UP. Like Frosty, Moon had went by his 1st barrel on the first day. The difference is...If Moon goes by a barrel, he simply sets a hind leg and sucks back. It's mentally impossible for Moon to go by a barrel and be okay with it. LOL. He IS going to get back in that turn, whatever it takes. The few runs he's done, going to the left, he hasn't been comfortable going to the left barrel first. That is understandable and acceptable. He just needed time to figure it out. Me too. I needed a few runs to get the feel for how to handle Moon going to the left barrel first.
This time our timing was correct. Moon didn't go by the barrel. He set into the pocket perfectly, but he still freaking set that hind leg and came back around just as hard as he usually does and the barrel was right there. I stuck my leg on him and pushed my hand forward. Moon bowed his body and we skimmed by the barrel. And...
I had flipped my reins over his head, when I pushed my hand forward.
Well....so much for just relaxing for the rest of the run. LOL.
When Moon stretched out for the 2nd barrel and all of my reins are on the left side of his neck?...All I could do was get up there and ride. Moon certainly was not as out of control as he had been the day before. He was running nicely and hunting his turns, so I just went with it. At least the reins were on the side of his neck that I needed them to be on to keep him off the barrels. LOL. It ended up being a pretty decent run and we left all of the barrels standing. It wasn't until we got to the end and I was stopping Moon that anyone realized I had flipped my reins. As I was walking back to the trailer one of my friends hollered, 'Now that was some street ridin.'. LOL. It was a blast to be back on him and actually enjoying it. Moon enjoyed it too. We stuck around for a few runs after ours and every time they opened the gate, he was wanting to go back in and do it again. Hahahaha.
That wrapped up our weekend. Neither of the boys got any money, but I accomplished all of my goals with them and that was good enough for me. I have lots of work to do with Frosty and I am contemplating switching him back to being a left-hand horse for a little while. I finally get that I am mostly incapable of using my right arm effectively when a horse starts needing extra help making a left hand turn and I am not going to fight it. We all have our limitations and if a useless right arm is mine...Then me and the ponies will just have to work around it. :-)