How do I start?

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How do I start?

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    05-22-2011, 03:40 AM
How do I start?

I've got an Arab that loves to run and I'm thinking of teaching him some western games. Except neither of us knows how to do any of it.

So, specifically with barrel racing, what's the first step in teaching your horse to do this? Trot the pattern first? Do circles? (I guess it'd be good to make sure the horse is comfortable with the barrels first.)

Any suggestions/tips would be appreciated.

Also riding position tips would be good since I don't ride Western! :) Or maybe I do, and I just don't know it.
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    05-22-2011, 12:21 PM
The absolute best thing to do is to find a reputable trainer to get you guys started.
    05-24-2011, 12:37 AM
To get started, set up the barrels. Start at the walk, walk to the barrel and keep him about 6 feet from the barrel with his nose turned slightly to it (this is called the pocket- you never want to get in the pocket as you are coming around the outside of the barrel, but you can get closer as you come around the barrel and head to the next one).

Let him get used to the sight of the barrels then move up to a trot. Trot with purpose to the first barrel. Stop at the pocket then walk around the barrel and trot to the second barrel. Stop at the pocket and walk around the barrel. Trot to the third barrel and stop at the pocket. Walk around the barrel. Go directly to the side of the arena - don't run for home.

Work on that over many sessions before moving up to a lope. Then lope to the first barrel. Stop and trot the pocket. Work on keeping your horses nose to the inside and an even six feet away from the outside of the barrel as you circle. Then come in close and lope to the second, trot around it, lope to the third, trot around it, and head to the side of the arena.

I had Scooby in training for four months and just got him back last month. The trainer patterned him doing the above steps, and now Scooby can lope the pattern cleanly. It will take another several months of attending barrel clinics and local shows before I will ask him for any speed. It is pretty deceptive how easy it looks, but the well-trained horses have had lots of time put on them with lots of slow work.

My trainer told me to only lope the pattern once for every ten times doing slow work, and keep him busy with other things ... so we take him on trails and cattle classes to avoid him getting sour.

Hope you have fun with it, I can't wait to get started!
    05-24-2011, 03:46 AM
Neat-o, thanks Ace!

So, when we start loping between the barrels, do we just transition down to the trot or actually stop and then pick up the trot?

Do you know how far apart the barrels are?

BuckOff, I'm seeking out barns to get lessons on horses that know what they are doing so I can learn. Personally, I'd like to train my horse. But I will go outside to learn how to ride the barrels.
    05-24-2011, 06:44 AM
...answering for Ace for just a second.
Whether or not you stop at the "pocket" depends on the horse itself. At first, I would do it with every horse. As time goes on, you'll know whether you need more rate or if you have a horse you have to drive through the turn.

I, too, prefer to train my horses. I don't send them out, but taking "lessons" on your own horse will answer more questions that taking lessons only on finished horses. I would start out riding the finished ones so that you can feel what "right" is, then begin bringing your own horse. Trainers can see what we can't and can/will catch bad habits before they form.
    05-24-2011, 02:10 PM
Hi Narnia -

I will stop at the barrel if Scooby gets too sure of himself - I want him to turn when I want him to, and not anticipate. If he is loping the pattern clean, I let him lope. If I am working him on other things in the arena, I may lope over to a barrel, transistion down, then trot around it (no stopping).

I started Scooby myself, but didn't know enough about the barrel training process to risk ruining Scooby (I have high hopes for him). I sent him out, had the barrel foundation put on him, and now he goes to weekly lessons with my eighteen year old daughter, who basically stole him from me for her last year of 4H... I watch the lessons and use work him once a week myself so I too, can get the feel of it... after Kellie's finished with State Fair, I will go into weekly lessons with him myself... I agree with Buck - a trainer can spot things we can't, and stop problems before they turn into bad habits...

Cheers, Kris
    05-25-2011, 03:32 AM
Thanks you two. I agree it is better to have a trained eye watch you and your horse. *cough* (I just have to get my lil' Arab trailering and then we'll be a step closer.)
    06-16-2011, 03:01 PM
Fledge, do not get discouraged if your horse is not preforming quickly. Some trainers will spend no more then 4 weeks on a horse then toss it aside if it is not running a great pattern. My horse took nearly a year to even begin running barrels decent.
IMO, a great barrel horse is made over many months, if not years. Not weeks!

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