About the ground... we have cattle grazing there, and it's honestly not as bad as it looks in the videos. I raked away most of the grass and stuff from the barrels in the last video. I was going to harrow it, but we have no tractors at the yard right now.. haying and such... .
If there are no breaks in the ground to the dirt, grass or no grass is slick slick (and hard). Kind of like comparing running on a gym floor in socks ... or in shoes! Sure, you can still run in socks and do okay, but the grip and grab you get with shoes sure helps out and decreases your chances of slipping.
Have you checked very carefully to make sure there are no holes created by gophers, moles, or badgers near or around where you are running her?
Understand about the haying and tractor demand.
always had to wait until we had the disc out in order to chop down the sweet clover growing on our summer fallows where I had my barrels and poles set up. Until then, I was usually out there with a shovel and rake as best I could.
She's a heading horse, so left is pretty much all she knows. It's a pain to lope a right circle in the arena, but if I'm chasing cows in the feild, leads are constantly changing.
What I would do in that situation then, is to ask her to work on the right 90% of the time, and the left only 10%. You don't want to completely ignore the left side, but you do want to make her work on that side all the time until she's just as good going both ways. May take some time though. But that first barrel is the money barrel! It needs to be a good turn. It's a total disappointment when you practice and work hard, get to a barrel race, and blow your run right off the bat by knocking the first barrel.
(Not that knocking any other barrel is any better .... but it kind of ruins things right off the bat!)
And make her stay on the lead you ask her to. Don't allow her to switch at her own leisure. (At least as best as you can focus on her while trying not to let the cows get away .... I know how it goes when rounding those buggers up.) Even if I'm out on the trails riding, I ask for a specific lead when I ask for a gallop. I like precision.
I've been trying not to lean, but it's a BAAAAD habit. Also from roping, cause I have to help her to make a good corner - so I shift my weight forward and down on my left stirrup... Oh, and another roping habit: I feel awkward riding/ neckreining with my right hand. Which I'm also trying to fix...
Sometimes I think rider habits are harder to break that horse habits.
And we all have our own. My bad habit (s) is moving my hands too much during a run and also not pushing him deep enough into the pocket. I'm constantly reminding myself and really try to give myself a pep-talk reminder before each run.
Sounds like your leaning issue is going to have to be dealt with the same! What I like to do when I turn a barrel:
- Let's pretent we are making a left turn.
- As I am almost upon the point on my pocket where I want to gather for the turn, I will turn my hips to the left (left hip back; right hip forward) so that my right leg goes slightly forward and my left leg goes slightly back.
- When I am ready to ask for the turn, I grab the horn with my right hand and wedge it into my right hip, to stablize myself. I then also pull my left hand slightly back toward my belt buckle and twist my wrist inward (counterclockwise) on the reins.
- During the turn, I put almost all of my weight in my outside right stirrup. It is simple laws of physics. Weight to the outside helps you keep up your speed. I use my inside left leg for kicking if I need it.
- I don't really "sit" during the turn. I am staying slightly out of the seat, sitting tall, and not leaning. Basically, I am using my wedged outside arm to keep myself as still and out of my horse's way as I can.
- I learned this from a Lynn McKenzie barrel racing clinic and I really like how it felt, versus the "sit and turn" method I was doing before. However, this will depend on your riding style and your horse's turning style, so it may not work for everyone. But that's what works for us.
But the right hand riding is an easier fix .... ONLY allow yourself to ride with your right hand for the next month! (Unless you are barrel practicing.) You should get used to it in no time.