First barrel race of the season for us yesterday.
Red has had very limited time on the pattern this year due to it still being greasy and slick outside (hopefully it dries up this week) and due to getting his health issues under control. In March, he got chiro'ed, teeth done, shoes put on, and right stifle injected. Now it is my responsibility to make sure that I get him to use his body correctly, which after our runs yesterday, I got a lot of work to do in that department.
I'm not sure what's going on with his head shaking. I normally run him in a Carol Goosetree simplicity bit. During our exhibition practice yesterday, he was shaking his head like CRAZY. It was awful. So for our runs, I switched him to his regular riding bit. I tried really, really hard to stay off his face except for some light guidance in the turns. He still shook some in his first run, but then he was much better in his second (although he still did it on the 3rd). I'll just continue to use that bit for now and hopefully it was the bit that was the problem. And the head shaking will eventually go away now that it's fixed.
Things I need to work on:
I was using my outside leg to kick him over, but when I watch the video I'm not doing it enough (if at all). Use outside leg
in the turn!
--FINISH barrel 1 and 2 turns. His hind end is drifting big time.
--Absolutely no hand pumping in-between the barrels. I need to keep my hands still and quiet.
--After the second run, he knew we exit the arena in the corner. I need to make him run straight through the timer, all the way to the fence, and not him drift to where we exit the arena.
--For the first run, on barrel 3, I knew I took him really wide into the pocket (although he finished it pretty nicely) so I need to get consistent about sending him to the same spot each time for the pocket.
--I need to use two hands for longer into the pocket. I'm dropping the outside too soon.
--Watching his footwork on run #1 barrel 1 in slow motion, I think his right stifle caught twice coming into the turn.
(I'm keeping in VERY close connection with my vet on what I should or should not be doing with him.) I think that "catching" made him cross-fire in back, drift, and then he eventually switched to his left lead. We're taking it one run at a time to see how he improves and how he does. I am so hoping my arena dries up this week so that I can work on barrel flatwork and controlling his hind end better. If I can keep his body in position, he may not have a problem.
--He stumbled coming into the 2nd barrel on run#1. I wonder if that's why he cross-fired in back again during the turn?
--He switched to the wrong lead as we came into the 3rd barrel on run#1. Honestly, that was my fault. I shouldn't have come into the pocket so wide. I think I confused him.
--For run #2 on the 1st barrel, I think his stifle caught for one stride coming into the pocket. But he kept his lead fine until we got to the backside and he swung his butt. This is where I think I am failing him. I need to keep his hind end engaged and he probably wouldn't cross-fire. Same idea on the 2nd barrel.
--Left the 2nd barrel wide and I'm sure that's what threw his leads off, as he was on the right lead coming into the 3rd barrel. For me setting him up so poorly for the 3rd barrel, I'm actually very happy with how he turned it. Beard Barrel Race 4-6-2014 - YouTube
Critique if you want. Helps me to process what I need to do if I write it all down.