Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Grand Forks, ND
I don't think its necessary at all to get a trainer. If you have the money and the ability to, then I would, but if you don't, don't think that you can't do it. I grew up working for my dad starting at 7 years old saving up all my money to buy my own horses, hay, vet bills, everything. I didn't have any money to spend on any trainers. I learned all on my own. I also didn't have the money to buy barrel horses, and even tho I do now, at 19, I still don't buy trained barrel horses. I find much more happiness in training a horse from knowing absolutly nothing about barrels to winning races against trainers and people who send their horses to trainers yearly.
To start you need to start from the bottom. Get your horse responsive to you on the ground.
If you have established this I do simple things riding, I want my horse responsive to my cues, loping circles well, responsive to leg cues, doing figure eights, flying lead changes, things you will be doing during races.
I then move on to adding barrels to the picture. I set up 4 in a square and lope around them, do figure eights around 2, set them up in a row and lope around each one on down the line, many different patterns. You can find a lot of stuff online.
When I finally think my horse is ready to start the actual pattern I start slow. Someone once told me they set up cones a few feet away on one side and then slowly closer going around the barre (where yo would want your horse to be walking/eventually running) This is a good way to consistantly be working your horse the same way every time you do the barrels. Do not go to the next speed until you can do it perfectly at the speed you start with. I also don't run my horses full speed ever at home, only when I'm out actually competing.