How much experience is needed to start barrel racing?

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How much experience is needed to start barrel racing?

This is a discussion on How much experience is needed to start barrel racing? within the Barrel Racing forums, part of the Western Riding category
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  • 1 Post By beau159

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    10-09-2013, 09:37 PM
How much experience is needed to start barrel racing?

I have been riding for about 2 months now, and I am leasing a horse so I can ride when ever I want. Im getting pretty good ( lope is getting there) but I really want to eventually do barrel racing. The horse I use is 20 so he is out of the picture, and plus he's not mine. I would end up buying my own when the time comes, but im just wondering when do YOU know your ready to start. How much riding experience do you need and what skills do you need to aquire. This is all new to me, but so far I im doing pretty good. Any input would be amazing!
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    10-10-2013, 09:40 AM
Green Broke
Welcome to the world of horses! Watch out for barrel racing though .... it's like an addiction problem, LOL. Need for speed!

It won't be so much of a time frame to know when you will be ready, but how you are progressing with your training as a rider.

Check out the barrel racing sticky we have:
Barrel Racing Exercises and Drills.

You will need to be comfortable riding your horse at all speeds: walk, jog, extended trot, lope, and fast gallop.

You will need to have a good seat and good legs. Your legs are very important to cue your horse to do specific things with its body:
--move the hindquarters
--move the ribcage
--move the shoulders
These things need to be done with your body language, weight, and legs. NOT with the reins.

You will need to have soft hands. That means you can't be hanging on the reins for balance (hence why you need to have good legs and body cues), and you can't be hard on your horse's mouth when running the pattern. Use your legs, legs, legs!

Barrel racing itself requires a lot of concentration, so your riding needs to be muscle memory. You don't have time to think about staying balanced AND turn a barrel. Your balance needs to be automatic.

And whatever horse you decide to use for barrel racing, your horse needs to be able to:
--walk, trot, and lope on a loose rein, and relaxed
--stop softly and immediately from any speed
--back up freely when asked
--give to the bit in any direction, and break at the poll
--neck rein and direct rein
--be able to sidepass and two-track
--can execute a turn on the fore, or a turn on the haunches
--simple lead changes and (possibly) flying lead changes
--can perform “perfect circles” with little help from the rider

So for now, just work on basic riding. Get really comfortable being able to control all of your horse's body at any gait. If you can do that, and get comfortable with that, the barrel racing will come easier.
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    10-11-2013, 02:50 PM
It may sound like an overwhelming amount you need to learn but you could always go to fun shows with a gentle horse and lope around not thinking about the time to get used to the atmosphere...start slow...walk and jog patterns and with help from a trainer you can soon pick up more skill and ability and decide if you really want to do it

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