I've been taking barrel lessons on a handsome Arabian named CJ. During my most recent lesson, my instructor told me to try and and canter around the barrels instead of the usual jogging. Each time I've tried to do this, I've intentionally slowed CJ down because I'm afraid he's going to tip over when he goes around the barrels. I know horses have great balance, but he loses his footing a few times during each exercise and trips sometimes.
If the horse is tripping that often, I wonder if he has a soundness problem like navicular....which means that falling, even when not running barrels, is a possibility. Occasional tripping is normal. Frequent tripping is a symptom of a problem, whether badly balanced feet, lack of collection, or poor ground in the arena, etc.
I know I can't anticipate falling because then I'll never get up to a canter around these barrels...but I can't help it
Actually it is a good thing to keep in mind at higher speeds. If you don't set your horse up right for the turn, or if you lean, you can pull your horse down on top of you.
Proper riding, shoeing, veterinary care, and footing will prevent most of these accidents.
I'm too gentle when I pull him around the barrels because Im afraid I'm going to pull him too hard and send him falling over...The instructor keeps telling me to yank him hard around the barrels, though.
Your concerns are legitimate. Your instructor's advice--to "yank"--is terrible, and amounts to bad horsemanship and frankly abuse.
Has anyone else experienced this fear? How did you get over it? Has anyone had a horse fall over completely when rounding the barrels?
Never had one go completely down, but I've had plenty of near-misses and knee-bumps.
Today I had a lesson and I pretty much did what everyone recommended: I just went for it. I LOVE speed, so I knew I just had to get over that "hump." I never expressed my fear to my instructor, but today she asked me if I'd be interested in trying an 'exercise' that HER instructor used to make her do. She didn't say what the purpose of the exercise was, but it definitely got rid of all my reservations.
On the farm is a very, very big wide hill - she told me to ride up the hill as fast I felt comfortable. We ended up going into a full gallop (of course, I DID hold on for dear life for the first try) and it was EXHILARATING. After that, we ran the barrels and I didn't feel any fear :) It was awesome! If I fall, I fall...that's all there is to it! I just have to focus on the task and have fun.
Thanks for your suggestions guys!! <3
This is fun. But it's also not something that should be done all the time. Teaches horses really bad habits.