Keeping a barrel horse sane at shows - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-27-2010, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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Keeping a barrel horse sane at shows

I'm going to be showing my mare mostly in gaming this summer. She's a hot, very exciteable horse (yes, I know, so many people say NOT to use a horse like that for barrels but...I do, and I love that type of horse for it), I'm starting to get a little curious how she'll be when I show her. I've shown her once last summer for english/western classes, but I'm wondering how she'll be at shows where everytime she enters the ring...she'll be running.

She's given me 0 reason to worry, but that's what I'm good at She never offers any episodes at home.

I'm not wondering how to keep a barrel horse sane, period - I've got that part down already. We don't practice barrels too much and do tons of other stuff, I change up patterns so she doesn't anticipate things, etc. I'm just wondering for those of you who do gaming, how do you keep your horse sane at shows? I know it comes down to training, and my mare is fine at home, I'm just trying to keep her that way at shows too.


ETA - I just wanted to add that I don't expect her not to get excited to run, but I do expect her not to start spazzing out.

passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. it is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible. // <3 starlite - dream - lady - georgia

Last edited by kmdstar; 05-27-2010 at 01:41 PM.
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-27-2010, 01:54 PM
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I don't game but I would say that you need to make sure and take time every day to just go into the arena where she is competing and just plod around. Trot and lope some circles, walk the fenceline. Just do the same thing there that you do to keep her calm at home.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #3 of 14 Old 05-27-2010, 02:02 PM
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ya I agree with smrobs. Get there as early as you can and just walk around and do some things in the arena. Get her as use to that arena as you can.

quarter horses.....simply the best
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-27-2010, 05:35 PM
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This is right up my alley.
I to have a VERY HOT and excitable horse, he was used for reining and they would have to give him calming meds like calm n cool before shows to TRY and calm him down.For the most part I only practice barrels once or twice a week. And I NEVER run the barrels in our home arena ever. That's what going to barrel races and doing time onlys is for.

I go do cow work at least once a week with him and take him on trails as much as I can. At shows to keep him calm I warm him up then don't get on until im two riders away from my turn so I don't get excited and get him excited. I don't stand near the gate with him either.When its finally our run I make him WALK into the arena and do a circle. Most barrel races have a once circle rule so try to do that at least. If your going to gymkhanas circle her once or twice to keep them calm and mix it up every so often so they wont anticipate. After He is done with his circle I let him do his thing then when were done I make him walk out.
Then I get off and loosen his cinch and hand walk him around.



Because of me doing all this, he almost never prances, never has problems going into the gate, never rears or does any of those things alot of hot headed barrel horses do and is overall a good boy.


Hope that helps.


Stop Blaming The Horse 99.9% Of The Time The Problem Is Riders Error
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-27-2010, 10:37 PM
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I wouldn't much change anything. I have a very hot Arab mare, and while I don't game, I spent most of my teenage years racing anybody who challanged me on her, so I get to deal with the backlash of that now. Surprisingly, she's ace at shows. I've ridden her on so many big group trail rides, and her first show was just being ridden in the warm up ring, so she's fine at shows. We actually did a gymkhana last summer and she was pro - one of the only horses who WALKED into the arena every time!

Just make sure you're doing lots of warmup, lots of schooling in the warmup ring. It's funny because there's this one girl who competes at the gymkhanas who was an amazing horse. They're always first in the warmup ring, and he schools like a pro - he rides like a top broke reiner. The first few times we saw him, we thought for sure we were toast. Nope - all that schooling was worthless because she never bothered teaching him to be a sane BARREL horse. They lost every competition except barrel racing and even then they barely placed because he was so worked up.

You know how to keep a sane barrel racer, so the trick is to keep a sane school horse as well! At the first couple of shows, if he's spazzing, TAKE THE LOSS. Use it as a schooling experience and LOPE him around the pattern - keep him calm and quiet and don't be afraid to make sacrifices to keep him sane. It may suck now, but it will only serve you well in the long run!

We just got back from Brandon and for the first time in my life, the CALMEST horse was the one who WON. I was almost in tears I was so proud - he did a nice little jig coming into the arena and WAITED for her. He had plenty of piss and vinegar but she took the time to keep him sane and he was SO calculated and methodic going into his turns, he just blew everyone out of the water. I will NEVER understand how people can believe an out of control horse is going to win.

Best of luck!

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post #6 of 14 Old 05-28-2010, 12:27 AM
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If it is a mixed up show...not just games...blow a class. Our local show, the barrel racing happens around midday. A few classes before barrels is usually something we can fit into. Western Pleasure, equitation, english pleasure...something that has walk trot canter in it. Now mind you, my horse is a total hot-head. At the slightest cue is doing his patented 'ants in the pants dance' We have NO shot at winning or placing in any of these classes. I stay out of the other riders way, I keep my horse calm and I do my best. This way, next time we enter the ring, he has to think. A friend of mine does this at gaming shows by only trotting her horse in one class that she doesnt much care about. To keep her competitive nature, she always keeps track of how fast he trots a pattern. Its just a matter of making them think before running.
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post #7 of 14 Old 05-28-2010, 12:40 AM
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I agree with Smrobs. My Gymkahan Club starts signups at eight, so I'm there at seven every morning before anyone else gets there and I warm up, lots of work. Since my horses are reiners, I do patterns with them and rail work too. Lots of sidepasing and forehand turns, then when everyone else shows up I get off and let them rest until the run. I mke sure to take the edge off first. I trot millions of circles, before that wears the hros eout more. I know wearing them out too much is obviously a bad thing in speed events, but keeping them warm and supple is not. And the rest they get in between runs and before the competition starts is good enough for them. I've never had a problem.

Just do alot of slow work in the arena too. Ad if the horse acts up, screw the entry fee and make him walk the pattern. I've done that lots of times. Jester woud get excited and rear, and I'd back him into the fence and make him go slow. Soon he figure dit out. If he wanted to go fast he had to behave, otherwise he wouldn't get to run. Since he likes running, it worked well

Hope that helped ^^

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-29-2010, 01:51 PM
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For the spicier horses I like to grab a few exhibitions. Bring em in and let em trot/lope the pattern, then back through at a breeze, and last...bring em in at a trot... only trot.
I also spend a lot of time in the holding pens and in the alley at drags. While their dragging, bring em into the alley and let em stand for a while and chill.
Don't fuss and pick on your horse...it just builds the anxiety.


For a horse who isnt used to hauling... I take em to a few shows and let em stand at the trailer. Might take em out to just ride around. Just letting them chill and take it in.

Don't over do it. Your horse'll let you know if your faltering.
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post #9 of 14 Old 05-29-2010, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! They have a set of trot classes, for every jr. Class and open class they have a trot class...so I might do trot for the middle and last event so Starlite doesn't think she'll always be running. If I get a job in time, I'll do all the trot classes

passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. it is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible. // <3 starlite - dream - lady - georgia
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post #10 of 14 Old 06-04-2010, 07:00 PM
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I know tha my mare is the same. She loves to do barrels & reining. And when I'm trying to get her to do railwork, walk and trot are fine, but when I let her lope, she will try and take off with me. If she starts that, she gets backed up for a good distance, then has to walk, and not get to even go past a jog for a while. Then some trotting circles is always good too.
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