Question for Barrel Racers/Gamers........ - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-01-2012, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2012
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Question for Barrel Racers/Gamers........

How do you train your barrel horses? I am always wondering how others go about bringing there horses up into the barrel racing world...

This is a rough, short and sweet version of how we do ours.

Well we start them on the pattern in the early Spring of their 4 yr old year, at the end of their 4yr old year they are consistently loping the pattern usually. Depending on the horse itself some might be going a faster lope if they are mentally mature enough to handle that much. When starting them we work the barrels at least 4-5 days a week (time varies on how well they are working), we also do a lot of different drills and exercises off the pattern as well. We also try and haul them to some of the races and exhibition them to get them used to the surroundings and environment.

In the spring of their 5yr old year we start packing them and letting them cruise the pattern (a fast lope really) and through the year letting them just go their own pace and not pushing them at all. They usually get faster at their own pace when they feel they are ready. We still do a lot of slow work on the pattern at home and do a lot of drills. In the fall we usually cruise them through to see where there weak spots are and where they are falling apart and go back and work on those areas.

Then their 6 yr old year we start pushing them (if they are ready) and not full out. We push them but only to what they can physically and mentally handle. and by the end of their 6yr old year they are usually handling the pressure and speed well so are running good.

Their 7 yr old year is when we push start pushing and asking of them. They should be pretty well matured and seasoned on the pattern to where they know they have a job to do.

But our training program consists of a lot of slow steady work, we don't push our horses until they can handle it. If they are falling apart mentally (getting gate issues, rushing the barrels, shouldering, ect) they are not ready or need to really be backed off. And we try to avoid the nasty habits or gate problems and don't let them get sour or fire breathing dragons.

But before they even get close to the pattern they need to be broke and have a solid foundation. I want my horses to do the following and do it well before they even set foot close to the pattern...

Side Passing
Flexing (neck and poll)
Control their shoulders/hips and move them when and where I want
Light to leg
Soft and Supple from mouth to tail
Roll Backs
Counter Arcing
Collection at all 3 gaits
Keeping the shoulder up on their own
Lead Changes
Being able to control and collect themselves at all 3 gaits while doing circles, and going around objects
Solid, Smooth, Snappy stops
Light to my seat

And I am sure I am leaving a few details out, but you get the point I want them broke with a solid foundation. Because without a solid foundation your going to find your self fixing many things and it is going to take you way longer to fix the simplest things.

So ya like I said short and sweet........what is your training program like?

Conformation is how far the horse CAN go,
Mind is how far the horse WILL go,
Training is how far it DOES go.
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-01-2012, 01:09 PM
Join Date: May 2011
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Dang girl you must be bored today LOL.

My response is the same as on the other forum.
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-01-2012, 01:18 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 1RedHorse View Post
Dang girl you must be bored today LOL.

My response is the same as on the other forum.
Posted via Mobile Device

Yes I am lol....I am waiting for it to warm up a bit so I could go ride, but that isn't happening fast lol.

Also whats your name on the other forum?

Conformation is how far the horse CAN go,
Mind is how far the horse WILL go,
Training is how far it DOES go.
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-01-2012, 01:18 PM
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It takes me around 2 years to completely train a barrel horse. Generally the first 4 months are just walking and trotting the pattern. After that I slowly will add a lope between the barrels, but I drop down into a trot around the barrels. I also tend to push my horses past the barrels by quite a bit because when you do start adding speed, they tend to get it in their mind and cut the barrel too soon. So I add an extra 5-6 feet in my pocket for about 8 months, then I slowly over the next couple of months I'll get them closer and closer to the barrel.

I don't start pushing them into the turn at a lope until I know for sure they they know what they are doing. A lot of times, I'll ride on a really loose rein and see what they do when the pattern is set up and I point them in the general direction of the first barrel. 9 times out of 10, they head straight for the pocket just the way I taught them.

After about a year, they are high loping a nice, consistent pattern, and I let them do that. I don't push for anymore speed. A lot of times a horse has to learn how to run anyways and eventually they naturally start adding speed themselves. The only thing I'm concerned with after a year, it a super nice, clean, smooth, safe pattern.

Once I'm comfortable with the high lope, I start pushing for speed. But this is usually half way through their 2nd year of training. So they've had 1-1/2 years of walking, trotting, and loping the pattern. I don't use spurs, and I don't use a crop on these horses. I do use a crop on my seasoned horses, but they have years of racing under their belt.

And I never start a horse on the pattern until they know all of the basics. Walk, trot, canter, whoa, back, side-pass, leads, flying lead changes, roll-backs etc.
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-01-2012, 02:07 PM
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Just about the same as yourself..Before I even start one on barrels s/he will be absolutely "broke" to everything else like you stated above. They won't be started on barrels until they are absolutely light in the mouth and other cues..Overall starting and seasoning on barrels is a long process and I don't push any of my horses if I'm not absolutely sure they are ready for that next step. I do not run any of my horses at home, ever. Not breezing or while practicing.

Late November I got a 12 year old awesome Oh Nonstop mare. The rider before me had absolutely cowboy'd her, heavy handed, rode everywhere in the saddle, awful position..But she has all of the natural talent in the world and knows her job. We've spent the past 3 months working on basic, flex and release, stopping, rate, becoming light again, all the way from step one in starting to now. I probably won't push her for another month or so, even though she wants it I hold her back. If you give her free rein she's a train and is the strongest horse I've ever ran barrels on and will stiff neck you like no tomorrow because she is expecting pain.. The other rider ran her in a bicycle chain bit and used an over and under the whole run. I refuse to put that bit back on her and I don't ride her with a whip. I ride her in a twisted mouth piece Jr Cow Horse and she's came a looong way with it. Just takes time and consistency.

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post #6 of 7 Old 03-01-2012, 02:26 PM
Join Date: Aug 2011
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I don't have an age frame as Waylon will be the first that gets to that stage in training, he's a yearling.

For starting one they have to be broke first, do side passing, rollbacks, ect. basically have a good handle on them. Bought Link already done with this stage lol

Walk the pattern until they get the idea of where their supposed to go. Then start trotting up to the barrels and stopping at my pockets, then walking around it. Do that for a few days, then trot the whole pattern many times, until there basically moving over and turning themselves at a trot I don't canter. Then when I do canter, canter to the barrels, stop back up, then trot around until they get that idea. Then lope the whole pattern and work on that.
kinda simple but it works, depending on the horses ability their normally loping a decent pattern within 30 days. That is after their past the broke broke stage. And once their loping through they keep loping, their not pushed to run just allowed to pick up speed at their own pace. Every horse learns at a different pace though.

I hope to have Waylon loping through when he's 3.
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post #7 of 7 Old 03-01-2012, 02:35 PM
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Reining. Then barrels.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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