Thanks! I've always trained with long reins I'm not sure how it got to be like that but nevertheless I DO need to fix it.
I personally train from day one in the way that it's going to be when the horse is finished. That's just my philosphy on being consistent for the horse. So my reins are competition length, even if we are just walking the pattern. My body between the barrels is in an up and running position, even if we are just walking. That way, when the day comes that we do add speed, my body language is perfectly familiar to my horse, and they know what I am asking, because I have done the exact same thing all along.
The owner just got the fence put up there at his arena and it hasn't been messed with since but that's the fastest I've let her go there. I haven't and won't push her yet because she isn't ready, that was just first time anything faster than slow lope.
I would not even be loping the pattern in that "arena". It's just not worth the injury. There's no ground at all for loping.
And personal preference for me, if I am working on the barrel pattern, my horse has got his protective sport boots on all 4 legs. But sport boots are personal preference, so to each his own.
I think the habit of throwing myself up on them stemss from my barrel horse and how his turn style is but it's not an excuse, makes for cool barrel race pictures though lol!
You really shouldn't be throwing yourself forward in any turning style. Dena Kirkpatrick has been doing a short series during Women's Pro Rodeo Today with a rider whose horse falls frequently because the rider always leans forward too much. When you throw yourself forward, that causes the riders weight to be on the horse's front end. This does not keep the front end free, and can make the horse prone to tripping, slipping, or falling.
Plus, if you are leaning forward in the turn, you cannot keep your weight in your outside stirrup like you should. It's basic science and centripetal force --> When an object is traveling in a circular motion at speed, it can travel faster with the weight to the outside.
It's definitely really hard to change muscle memory though!! Just really make sure you always give your horse a solid RATE cue with your body to transition from speed between the barrels, to getting ready to turn. Always drop that outside rein so that you can hold onto your saddle horn, and wedge your outside elbow against your outside hip, holding yourself in place. And of course, keep most of your weight in the outside stirrup. Practice, practice, practice at slow speeds (and in your mind!) to change that muscle memory in the turn.