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Cassandra from Colorado, writes:

Dear Sharon,

My nine year-old mare is making beautiful runs but is not running in-between the barrels or in the home stretch. I have tried spurs, whips; nothing seems to make a difference. I am competing in a short lifter and a tiedown. I have noticed one thing, a dramatic mood change in general, and especially around other horses. Is this related?

Dear Cassandra,

I have had the opportunity to work with you and watch you ride. Number one, be cautious how much you kick. Too much kicking could make your horse slow down.
With that said, I have several suggestions.

Most important, rule out any soreness. With your mare’s mood change, she could be sore; she could have problems with her ovaries, which could make her sore and extremely irritated. A question to Ask Dr. Dave may offer additional ideas. Your veterinarian needs to check this out.

I have a “bitchy” mare and I found that the addition of a Tahitian Noni supplement has done a remarkable job mellowing our her mood swings.

Once your veterinarian has addressed the soreness issue, I would get my mare in shape by using our 3x4 conditioning program and build from there. Three days a week, ride one mile at a walk, one mile at an extended trot and one mile at the gallop. Take time for a one mile cool off. Follow your conditioning ride with 15 to 30 minutes of arena exercises and skill drills.

Once your mare is in good shape, try sprinting her alongside another horse. Use your Sweet Six bit with no martingale. This exercise will help motivate your horse to reach and run. Instead of using your spurs or whip, keep your legs quiet and learn to wave an over-under. Kiss first so your mare understands what you are asking for before raising your over-under. If the over-under is difficult to use, saddle a bale of hay and practice.

I might also suggest a loosely adjusted leather tiedown and a change of bit. The Plus Touch, Reinsman #732 may be a good alternative. Check out my bit selection at BarrelRacingSuperstore.com.

Cassandra, I also remind you that you are coming out of winter and I would guess "limited" good weather to ride. Be sure your horse is in good physical condition before you begin sprinting.

Ride safe and smart,

Sharon