... I think I may be on track to earning it from Raincloud! :)
Last week I rode almost every day and really worked on, well on myself. I have to be a more authoritative rider with him. Ask once (with firmness) and if he doesn't respond correctly TELL him.
So all week we rode in the arena (with cones marking the nest so we didn't trample it). The first few days we did no barrel work. Just walk/trot/lope patterns in the arena. Went for precise, had a few minor disagreements:
me - bend deep into the corners
RC - are you sure you want me in the corner? Let's cut the corner!
me - I said bend!
RC - okay okay, you really mean it.
me - trot!
RC - how about a speedy walk?
me - TROT!
RC - okay fine
Little "conversations" like that... the more I was firm about it the fewer discussions we had to have. Until he didn't really "test" me anymore.
The third day Kimfer rode with me and we set up funnel barrels.
*(barrels are placed in pairs and the pairs get closer to each other. For example we had 8 barrels - or 4 pairs - the 1st 2 were about 65 feet apart, the next 2 were about 40 feet, next 2 about 30 feet, last 2 about 15 feet. You zigzag around the pattern. Good exercise for barrel horses! They really need to listen to the rider to do it right)*
Anyway, back to the story. Kimfer & I warmed up our horses really good (she was on Baron this time) and went through the funnel barrels. Baron did awesome! He usually gets really excited and worked up. He starts to get really stiff and anticipates too much. This time he stayed nice and loose and was fast. Good to see he's recovered so well! I took Applejack through slow (trotted) and he was very good. Then I took him through at a lope and it was really good. Our horses had worked well so we cooled them out and were done for the day.
The next day we did funnels again. Kimfer on Isis this time. Isis & Kimfer were not having a good day. Partly because Kimfer has been sick with a nasty sinus infection. So although not perfect Kimfer didn't push it and left it on as good a note as was possible. Applejack was again a very good boy! We did the funnels once at a fast lope and then a "modified" barrel pattern. Meaning we just used the first 2 barrels of the funnel as barrels 1 & 2 and then picked one of the last pair as the 3rd barrel. He was very good but you could tell he was wondering why we were ignoring all the other barrels he'd been going around before!
Sunday was the final practice day. We took the extra 5 barrels off the pattern and set the remaining 3 up correctly. Warmed up really good and went through the pattern. He was awesome! No bucking, no resisting. It felt so good :)
Yesterday was the true test, a jackpot! I warmed him up really good and then it was "sit & wait" time. At least at Kress's (where the jackpot was) there is lots of room to keep your horse moving and warmed up. Oh! And another bonus, Joe harrowed a "track" around one of the pastures for his wife to ride. Its not a perfect flat and smooth track like a race track but its harrowed, the footing is good and you can run/walk/trot whatever you need to do. Julie & I took the boys out there while the youth were racing and got them moving.
Applejack can run! Whoo boy! We trotted the boys out for a distance and then ran back. Julie went back to her trailer and I turned Applejack and ran him again. This time I really let him go and he loved it! He didn't care at all that his buddy had left and it was just the two of us. Then, to reinforce that there are slower speeds to move at we slow loped back to the gate and then walked to the trailer.
As for our actual barrel runs, they weren't perfect. The turns were pretty wide. I noticed a lot of horses going wide yesterday actually. But he ran. No bucking, no farting around. We went in, I asked him to go and he did! I didn't place in the money but I think I was probably the happiest person there last night!