barrel tips

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barrel tips

This is a discussion on barrel tips within the Barrel Racing forums, part of the Western Riding category

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    01-31-2012, 04:28 PM
Green Broke
barrel tips

I have never barrel raced, but have watched it and researched it for ever. I have a paint gelding that is four and has alot of heart to do it. Does anyone have ideas about started him for it and what tips I can do to train myself as well. I would really appreciate it to because I have to teach my self because I don't have the money to have someone teach both me and my horse. Thanks
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    01-31-2012, 04:49 PM
Well, it is possible to train yourself, but it will be significantly harder without a trainer...Can you start by telling me how much riding experience you have had and how much riding and training your horse has had?
    01-31-2012, 04:57 PM
Green Broke
I have been riding horses by myself since I was about 5 years old I am 15 now) starting out with like a 25 year old horse that wouldnt go very fast . I would consider my self I pretty good rider considering some people. My horse Sunny is four and I bought him for $1500 last july as a three year old up at a Amish sale in Brighton. He responds to leg pressure. And if I like jiggle on the reins he puts his head down, if you know what I mean. I am getting him to stop better because when I first got him it would take like a mile to get him to stop, now he is almost there, to a fast stop. He can go from a stand to a canter with little effort. And I can get him to walk trot and gallop very easy.

One problem that I do have is he has a fast walk like pace, were it seems as if he could keep up with a horse at a slow canter and a trot.. its kind of hard to explain. I try to slow him down by pulling on the reins a little and it works but as soon as I let pressure off the reins he speeds up again.

Does this help you at all?
    01-31-2012, 06:17 PM
Yes it does help me. While learning this will probably prove a challenge for you....I'm not going to say it is impossible, since everytime I say it is I am proven wrong.

Are you familiar with the A.R.T of barrel racing? (Approach, Rate, and Turn)?

Approach -
I suggest looking on youtube at Dena Kirkpatricks videos. If I am not mistaken she has one on approaching. Remember, (This applies to what I'm going to tell you later on) the widest part of the turn is the point when you enter. Set yourself up wider than you would think at first (Make big circles to start with) but remember that no matter what, ALWAYS finish a barrel close. No matter how wide you approach, finishing close is a very important tool.

Rate -
As you come towards the barrel, setting yourself up for your pocket, your "rate point" is the point in which you sit down, prepare to turn, and your horse will collect and there should be a significant change in speed. Do not EVER speed up going into a barrel; You will always slow (Even if slowing is fractional)

Turn -
The turn is important for obvious reason. When you reach your rate point and start turning, you need to try and make the pocket (Space between you and the barrel) around 3-4ft. If you think that is too wide, feel free to look at the runners in the NFR and see how far away they are. There is a video on youtube with Charmayne James herself explaining this technique. (Details of turning will come in a minute)


Do you have a barrel pattern to practice with? I would start by walking him up to a barrel, and stopping next to it at your "rate point" to show him where you need to slow. If he does a "fast stop" now, then training this will be similar. Remember that even at the walk to keep your cues very distinct - Upper body forward, hands farther up the neck when on the straight and then when you approach your turn then you will sit down and bring your hands closer to the saddle horn on the neck. Make those two cues very, very distinct. What you can do is practice going around the rail of the arena (This works at a trot and lope very well) and when you are going forward, really move yourself into a more forward position and drive her out. Then, every now and then sit back and make her collect. This is where the head dropping thing will come into play. Go ahead and take up rein contact, ask her to drop her head like you normally would but apply some pressure with your calves to keep her driving with her hind end. You will also be doing this with your barrel turn.

Back on the pattern, when you stop, let her sit and think about it. Then go ahead and walk her in a perfect circle around the barrel. Use two hands (Later on you will use one hand and go to the horn for support, but not yet) and use your inside hand to get inside flexion with her nose and your outside rein to supple her indirectly. Use your inside leg to help establish this bend (Keeping the barrel behind your leg and to the horses hip) and your outside leg to keep her shoulder from moving out by touching her near the cinch to help her make a good circle. On a finished horse, when you are running at the barrel you will sit, grab your saddle horn, squeeze with your legs to drive them underneath themselves and then use the outside leg to sort of push them around the barrel. But, let's keep this simple for now. Later on, once she gets very good at the walk, move on to the trot. Then the lope. Then eventually the run. Practice this rate and circle excersize on all the barrels.

It is important to remember that even though you can "pattern" your horse, she should still be listening to you. Mix it up every now and then. Turn a barrel the opposite direction you normally would, or set up the barrels in a square or a line or around the rail at random. Horses will sour to the cloverleaf if you work too much there.

Once you get the rate and circles established at all gaits, then you're in pretty good shape. There's only so much we can teach you over the internet...But this would be my starting point. Look for drills (after your horse is farther along only), training tips, and techiques more from online videos. You might look into some dvds (Sherry Cervi has a nice one with Clinton Anderson, and I like the Sharon Camarillo ones, but they are kinda spendy)

If any of that doesn't make sense, please tell me. And if you have anymore questions I would be glad to answer them.

EDIT: I forgot to tell you, I am on school internet right now that has youtube blocked. But when I get home in a couple hours I can give you the links to some very helpful training videos if you would like.
    01-31-2012, 06:31 PM
Green Broke
Yeah that helps... kinda, I copied that and put it in a word document so I can read it over tonight. And yeah I am on a school laptop that I get so I can't get on youtube either, even though I am at home home.. Another question that I have is I have started him on the pattern and he knows like that he has to go around the barrels, but sometimes is wants to turn before the 2nd barrel and he tries to speed up to go around the barrels and then my dad told me that I have to get him to stop before trying barrels again, and that was a while ago and I havent done it since then, because I don't want to start him wrong and ruin him.
    01-31-2012, 10:21 PM
If he is trying to turn before you reach the second barrel, run him past it. Don't let him anticipate the turn. If you feel him leaning on you one direction, turn him and take him the other way.

Everytime he tries to speed up too, go right to the barrel, stop and make him stand there. If he still tries to run into the turn without slowing down for it, stop him, turn him away from it, and go to the next barrel. Then when you get to that one, stop, turn him away, and go to the next. Keep doing that and eventually he'll stop getting excited.

Also, I don't know how fast you're going, but remember not to get impatient. speed comes last. If you can't do it slow, then don't try to do it with speed. Everything has to be built up. Nothing ruins a horse faster than running him too soon.
    02-01-2012, 12:38 AM
It's hard to give you sound advice by typing it online. You really would be better off to watch and learn that way. Go to and look up fallon taylor. She has some great barrel tips on free videos. You can learn a lot from watching them. Barrel racing isn't the kind of thing you can just jump on and go, you have to make sure it's done right or you can ruin a perfectly good horse. Good luck!!! :)
    02-01-2012, 04:05 PM
SorrelHorse has given you good advice so far.

I just want to add that you should get your hands on any books or DVDs that you can about barrel racing. You usually can get good deals on Ebay or Amazon. If you can't afford a hands-on trainer, resources like books and DVDs are your best bet. As already mentioned, there are some free YouTube videos by Martha Josey, Charmayne James, Dena Kirkpatrick, and I have seen some decent ones by Expert Village.

Also, the A.R.T. Of barrel racing is only one method out there. Not every method works for every horse because they all are unique individuals with different turning styles. Using the ART method will get you started but do realize that may not be the best method for your horse. And knowing that takes experience .... Which is why working with a trainer who knows that would be best.

And I can say that from experience because I screwed up training my own horse when I was 13. And it has taken YEARS to undo the damage, some of which I am still constantly keeping an eye on 10 years later.

So educate yourself the best you can.
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    02-01-2012, 11:55 PM
Green Broke
Thanks for all the information and help! I would try working on it this weekend bbut as of right now im going to be getting around 4 inches ( I think) of snow...
    02-03-2012, 03:36 AM
Sounds to me like you have a pretty hot horse on your hands already, I would not suggest you put this horse on barrels yourself AT ALL.
I am in no way trying to be mean or rude when I say this but you seem to be "cowboying" this horse and a little in over your head when it comes to any formal training.
I am not saying to be a good rider or barrel racer you have to have a lot of formal training but you most definitely need a good bit to train your horse to be a barrel horse if you wish anything productive to come out in the end.

I think the best advice I can give you is to continue to just ride him around, trail riding I mean. DO NOT introduce him to any kind of barrels at this point. Take some time and research some local barrel trainers and then find out the cost for their training. Save up the money and do the best thing for you horse and send him off to AT THE VERY LEAST get a good foundation in barrels but on him.
You would be surprised at the number of trainers out there that would be willing to strike a deal with you, training in exchange for a good worker around. It never hurts to ask.

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