Trying to get my horse into barrel racing, need some help please. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 12-29-2012, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Trying to get my horse into barrel racing, need some help please.

The people i've talked to tell me just to throw up some barrels in the pasture and go around them a bunch of times to get the horse used to the pattern. My last horse that i raced got pretty good at that, but i know that i could do more in training then just that. Someone want to help me out and give me a few tips?
The horse i'm training is 14"3 hand quarter horse and turns on a dime. She's not spooky around the barrels or any of that, just needs different methods on training.
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post #2 of 23 Old 12-29-2012, 03:57 PM
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There is more to Barrel Racing then just going around barrels multiple times...

I am just going to paste my answer from another post...process is the same with horses of any age except the first step. If they are ready to go I take them to the pattern if they are not then I go back to the foundation and build from there.

We start ours in the spring of their 3yr old year, and they mainly just get RODE and broke. We don't do pattern work with them as 3...instead we ride out, if a friend needs help checking or gathering cows we take them. We might haul them a to a few races and either they stand tied and saddled, or I might ride them around during the Exhibitions and just sit in the arena and let them chill. Their 3yr old year is them getting broke broke broke and a solid foundation. I want them feather light (prefer a dressage foundation) to all cues from my seat, legs, hands, mouth, and neck rein.

Any horse I want them to be soft, supple, and be able to move every part of their body. They need to know how to have control over their body as well and know where to put what where and when.

Their 4yr old year we start them on the pattern, we probably work the pattern 4-5 days a week depending. The days we are not working barrels we are just riding or doing drills. I usually will warm them up with some drills then go to the pattern for a short time then be done. By the end of the season (usually October) they might be high loping the pattern, depends on the individual horse. They just get a solid pattern foundation, they also get hauled and do a few exhibitions and haul a lot more to get exposure.

Their 5yr old year we start letting them pick the speed that they want to go, some go a high lope while others go a little faster. I could care less about speed at the beginning of their 5yr old year because I want consistency, and am not so worried about how fast they are going. The horse needs to feel comfortable and I don't like pushing them more then they can handle so that is why I am in no hurry starting out the year (plus I don't do futurities anyway). Throughout the year they slowly start getting more confident and the speed comes with the confidence. I ask and encourage, and not pushing them to go faster they what they are comfortable. By the end of the year they have a pretty good run through the pattern. Their 5yr old year is when they start getting hauled with the big horses and get exhibitioned at every race and if they are doing good at the end of the year I may enter them in a couple.

Their 6yr old year is when we start asking them for speed and expecting more out of them. By this time they are ready to handle runs and places so can handle the pressure being asked.

Like I said we don't do Futurities and I am not a fan personally, because you have to push young horses faster then what I like.

But I don't always do I said I do a lot of drills with tires, barrels, poles, trees, brush, ect. I may ride them in the bottom pasture and just exercise them on our sand track. I do do slow work often though so they know barrels are just barrels and do not always mean RUN RUN RUN.

So it isn't going to happen in a few days, weeks, months but a couple years at LEAST to get them going good before even running full out. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and patience.

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 #3 of 23 Old 12-31-2012, 11:45 AM
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Agreed with above. The key to a great barrel horse is a lot of slow work, lots of walking and trotting the barrels. But you can also work on controlling your horses body such as woah, direct and indirect reigning, backing up, yielding fore and hind quarters, lateral work and side passing. The more control you have over you horses body the better barrel racers you both can become. Make sure when riding you don't do barrels and drills everytime be sure you take your horse out for a just a regular ride which in its own way can be training building endurance and stamina. Good luck with your training!

Noey's Herd
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post #4 of 23 Old 12-31-2012, 12:32 PM
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You are right, ShyFoster, there is MUCH more to barrel racing than setting up 3 cans and running around them.

Hence why there are professional trainers who have dedicated their lives to the sport, why there are entire books on barrel racing, why there are countless hours of DVD training fundmentals, and why barrel racing clinics take place across the country.

Barrel racing is like any other well-trained discipline.

Therefore I would suggest getting your hands on whatever books and DVDs you can. A few good names to look for are Sherry Cervi, Charmayne James, Dena Kirkpatrick, Ed and Martha Wright, Martha Josey, and more.

In general, you want to have a good foundation on your horse (no matter the age) before you start barrel training.
- stop softly from any gait
- back up freely
- travel in a relaxed frame at all gaits (walk, trot, canter)
- controlled speed at all gaits
- sidepass
- turns on the haunces and turns on the fore
- simple and flying lead changes
- direct rein and neck rein

Basically, you want to be able to move any part of your horse's body (nose, neck, shoulders, ribcage, hindquarters) at any time at any speed.

You should also be able to do "perfect circles" with your horse, where their body is maintaining a nice bend with little help from you, and making an absolute perfect circle (no ovals or oblong). I like Dena Kirkpatrick's method of teaching a horse to do perfect circles so that you only need to have one hand on the reins. By teaching the horse to be able to do those perfect circles early, it makes it easy to keep your barrel pattern consistent with one-handed turns from the start.

You don't want to take the barrel turn too tight. That makes your horse lose speed. Make sure you give them a 4 foot "pocket" around the barrel (different trainers will promote different pocket sizes, and it will depend on your horse too).

Make sure you also head in a straight line from one barrel to another. Do not make a curve or arch. The fastest way between 2 points is a straight line.

And it's also important to remember to always practice perfectly. When you let a horse do things wrong (like shoulder in, or turn their hindquarters out on a turn) is when you are going to create bad habits that are hard to fix. Every time you do that pattern, go through it in your mind first, and then execute it perfectly.

And remember that SLOW SLOW SLOW is what will train a good-minded barrel horse. It can take up to 2 years to have a completely finished horse. If you go too fast too soon, you will create bad habits (that are hard to fix) and you may also sour your horse on barrels.

For myself, I like doing lots of other things with my barrel horses to keep them fresh. I am training a 6-yr-old right now, and for 2013 we are going to be going to tons of shows, just working on seasoning and hauling. He'll be doing everything from halter and showmanship, to western pleasure, to reining, to competitive trail, to cattle, along with gaming and speed events. I want a well-rounded and good-minded individual. Will we do western pleasure at a world-level? Absolutely not. We're just going to hit up some local small shows where it doesn't really matter, as long as your horse behaves and does things correctly.

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post #5 of 23 Old 01-04-2013, 08:24 PM
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It always cracks me up how so many people IN this discipline think barrel racing practice is just running really fast around barrels. I'd say probably 75% of the work I do with my horses around barrels is at a trot, patterning them. We don't ever actually full out run unless we're at a race.

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 #6 of 23 Old 01-04-2013, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by kmdstar View Post
It always cracks me up how so many people IN this discipline think barrel racing practice is just running really fast around barrels. I'd say probably 75% of the work I do with my horses around barrels is at a trot, patterning them. We don't ever actually full out run unless we're at a race.
Agreed I do the same thing
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post #7 of 23 Old 01-07-2013, 02:16 AM
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There is way more too it i usually start by making sure the horse can flex and bend at all gaits and can side pass ect. Than i walk the pattren until the horse is used to it ( stoping the horse at each barrel whe the horses shoulder is just past it)
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post #8 of 23 Old 01-08-2013, 05:09 AM
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I don't do as much "patterning" as I do "Hey genius, listen here."

My mare didn't take much. She was a reiner, she was started on cows, she could run, rate, rollback, counter arc, slide stop, spin, turn on the forehand (still and expanded), counter canter, flying change, half pass, etc without too much of my help. When i started her on the pattern I think I did one day a week slow loping. The rest of the time we did drills. all rights, all lefts, spirals, rollbacks, squares, etc and I would always finish by doing some pieces of a reining pattern whether it be a couple lead changes, couple large fast and small slow circles, stops, spins, something that made her focus. This has always been my approach.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #9 of 23 Old 01-08-2013, 04:18 PM
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A extremly broke horse always makes life easier! But i still think you should have done more slow work to allow your horse to memorize the pattren.
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post #10 of 23 Old 01-08-2013, 06:27 PM
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I don't do barrels, but I do pattern work. Yes, starting slow is good so that you aren't just running blind, but there is a point where you can't just let the horse be a mindless drone.

The veteran Games horse at festival knows the games we play as if his eyes were closed. But the second its "show time" you better have your game on or else he takes advantage. Cuts corners, gets sloppy, etc. And this was my folly in simply relying him as a mindless drone. It landed me in a face full of dirt because I was expecting him to be reliable and simply "do his thing." Nope. He cut the corner suddenly and I wasn't expecting it and down I went. In front of an audience.

None the less, we walk trot and canter a few times to get the pattern down so they have an idea of what is expected. From there, we up the ante and go for it like we would for real.

Edit: And mind you, Shooter is a 20 year old bomb proof gelding who we consider our babysitter.
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