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post #11 of 17 Old 10-14-2010, 07:21 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: North Dakota
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Overall, get rid of whatever bit you are using. It is obvious it is too much for her. Especially in the 3rd video you posted, you see how she threw her head coming around the 2nd barrel? You also notice how she is antsy and swishing her tail in most of the runs? Something is bugging her and my first guess it is the twisted wire bit. And it would be a good idea to also check for pain anywhere else like with the saddle or a back issue. A swishing tail often means pain, although there are just some horses that are tail-swishers becauase no sources of pain could be found anywhere after a thorough examination (vet, chiro, dentist, massage).

While most people do like to have a bit for a home and a different bit for competition, you don't HAVE to do that. Especially while she is still learning and you are still training, you should only be using ONE bit on her until she is seasoned and fully trained; then you can consider having a separate competition bit. Think of it this way: You can't be teaching her gradeschool material at home with a smooth snaffle, and then expect her to jump into highschool material in a strange environment at a show with a twisted wire gag. They are just 2 totally different bits.

And for clarification purposes, THIS is a smooth snaffle, as it is very common for many people to mistake what a true snaffle is. A true snaffle has no shanks.

If you have a gag bit at home that is snagging, either fix it completely (cleaning it often works) or get rid of the bit. It is not going to help you or her to have a bit that does not work properly and/or pinches her in the process.

and she can run right through the snaffle if she wants to
You mean, YOU can ALLOW her run right through a snaffle if she wants to. Never should a horse not stop when you ask. I don't care if you have nothing but a piece of string through their mouth. For my horses, when I say stop, they stop. No questions asked. It is just safe and smart. This may take some re-training and starting from scratch, but you need to have a horse that is responsive and respectful. If you are not sure how to train this, just say so (there's no shame in learning) and I can explain what I would do. All to often, people just resort to a harsher bit (like you said you did by going to a twisted wire) instead of actually fixing the problem of why the horse won't stop in the first place.

Didn't get your approach or barrel 1 on the video.

She did not switch her lead when you got to barrel number 2. That's why she turned not smooth. It actually was a great amount of effort on her part, because she switched them during the turn. Regardless, you need to teach her to do a flying lead change at least before the 2nd barrel; but preferably mid-way between barrel 1 and 2. So when you get to barrel 2, you can focus on setting her up for the barrel, rather than having to focus on leads. If you don't know how to train a flying lead change, again, just say so and I can go into more detail on that (there was a point in my life when I didn't even know what a flying lead change was....everyone learns).

I'm not really sure what happened on the 3rd. She came into it on the correct lead since she left the 2nd with the correct lead. But it almost looks like you allowed her to almost cut it off. Make her stay over and keep room in the pocket and keep her momentum. Very important to keep momentum in the turns so when you do start to speed it up, its there. Slow turns will kill your time. Also, I noticed you were looked AT the 3rd barrel as you went around it. "Wherever you are looking, that is where the horse will go." So what will happen if you look AT the barrel? Well the horse is going to go AT the barrel too. You need to be looking at axis points on the ground around the barrel; the same points that you want your horse to get to as you do the turn.


It looks like you took your initial starting turn too tight, which caused her pretty much to come to a standstill. Just like in barrels, the momentum you have around turns is crucial for a fast time when you finally speed it up. So while you are training her (barrels or poles) give her a little more room than she needs in the turns to encourage her to keep her current speed up. As you increase the speed and she gets better and more seasoned, you can suck the turns in. It is much, much easier to tighten up a turn, than to try to teach a horse to give the turns more room.

When you are weaving, she is not changing her leads. Not good. You need to teach her that. Start by two-tracking through the pattern at the trot and as her to do a side-pass or diagonal movement between each pole. So if you want her to weave to the left, remove your left leg from her ( to open the door) and use pressure with your right leg (to push her over). Keep her neck and head fairly straight, as when you do increase the speed someday, you don't want her neck bowing one way or the other during the run, as that just takes more effort and is not as quick and literally weaving with a mostly-straight body.

You know she is not changing her leads because
1) watch her feet and you can see
2) she is weaving easily to the right (cuz she is in her right lead)
3) she is having trouble weaving to the left (cuz she is not changing to the left lead- she is staying on the right)

When you are weaving back at the trot, I can't tell if you are doing the two-tracking like a just described since the videoer zoomed out. It didn't look like you were using your legs much, but I could be wrong.

First barrel looks pretty good. You see how she kept her momentum, had a nice smooth turn, and was on the correct lead?

At the second barrel in this video, she had already switched to the correct lead so that is good. But the turn was not smooth. She lost momentum on the backside. So you need to push her deeper, and slightly wider, in the turn so she keeps up her galloping momentum and uses it to her advantage to drive herself through the turn. And as I mentioned above, you see when you made contact on the bit during that turn? She threw her head in response. That tells me that that twisted wire gag is too much.

I can't tell from the angle of the camera, but it almost appears as if you drift out when you leave the 2nd and head to the 3rd? I can't exactly tell, but always make sure you are making a dead straight line from barrel to barrel. No drifting!! It costs way too much time.

Same with the 3rd barrel turn as with the 2nd. You are trying to turn too close and too short and she loses momentum (actually breaks down to a trot for a split second). Push her deeper and let her take it a bit wider until she is more seasoned. Just keep that galloping going smooth all the way around the barrel.


Same problem on the first pole here as we had in the other video. Keep her momentum going and push her farther/longer into the turn, because she was trying to cut it short and get around that first pole.

I can't tell when you weave down if she is swiching her leads or not. The video is too small and too bouncy. She appears to be weaving nice though.

Middle turn was a bit wide, but that's okay. She's still learning.

The weave back she is NOT switching her leads. She is staying on her left lead the whole weave, although she is weaving nicer than the first video. She MUST MUST MUST learn to switch her leads or you will have issues when you speed it up. Take the time now to fix it, and it will be easier to fix than down the road if you just let it go.

Again, give her a wee bit of more room around the last end pole. She stuttered in her momentum. You want to keep her going smooth and strong all the way around.

Now don't get me wrong for all the negative-sounding critiques. It does look like she is doing just fabulous for what little riding/time you have had for her. Believe me, I totally understand trying to work with a horse while going to school. I am currently on my 3rd year of graduate school, which means I've been juggling college and horses for 7 years now.

She looks like she's a lot of fun to ride and seems to really enjoy the barrels. I think she will turn out quite nicely.
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post #12 of 17 Old 10-24-2010, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: St. Clair, Missouri
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I really do appreciate the comments! I'm trying to learn and hopefully not completely ruin her...

Her teeth are good, she just got floated at the begining of the summer and her teeth tend to wear fairly evenly--she gets a little bit of the hook on the upper pre-molar, but it takes some time for that to grow out and not near so bad as some. Her back is another issue, we have had history with that one--my old saddle did not fit her at all, so I rode in my friend's circle Y that fit her well for nine months trying to find something that fits--I finally did find a saddle early on this summer, checked with my friend who will hopefully be running her for me next summer while I'm in clinics, my riding instructor and another gal she rodeos with as approval for fit before buying it and rode with it the rest of the summer with no dry spots and no sore behavior before/after riding--as far as I could tell no problems. After you said that, I took her down to my instructor's weekend before last, and when we started loping the pattern first thing noticed was the tail wringing, and sure enough there were a couple of dry spots and she was sore on palpation. Anyways, I tried the circle Y this weekend at the funshow thinking it's always fit before--of course there was a nice dry spot there waiting for me, though she didn't act sore on warm up (not unusual for her) or palpate sore after (wouldn't really expect her to 'till tomorrow after she stiffens up anyways)--so keep that in mind as a problem for this video. I suspect part of the problem is she's gottan fat on me while I've been at school. So number one priority=properly fitting saddle+pad combination.

I used an O-ring snaffle (true snaffle, no shanks) this time, and I don't think she was shaking her head as much (correct me if I'm wrong), and she felt much more aggressive to me--I'm not sure if that's good, but it feels better to me. She stumbled going into that first barrel, but I think that's because I wasn't as prepared for the softer bit, and didn't use my seat as much as I should have, so I skrewed our balance and pocket up--I definitely think I can correct that with this bit when I get the chance to practice.

On all three barrels I'm overbending her nose coming out of the turn, so I'm losing control of her shoulder, and she's coming out of the turn wide, instead of relying on my outside leg coming out of the turn, to make her finish the turn and come out straight and tight. If I correct that, she should switch leads in the first few strides coming right off the first barrel--or at least that's what she does at a lope when I do it right.

On the third barrel she had no pocket (need more inside leg going into the turn!) I knew it going the turn and then looked right at the ground making matters worse.

She felt much more aggressive in this bit, but she wasn't really stretching out for me the way I know she can, part of that is without a doubt the saddle, but I think I'm also leaning way too far forward, shifting her forward, and preventing her from really driving herself with her hips. I think I'm also leaning forward too soon off the barrel which is contributing to us coming out wide on the turns. I think if I can correct that, and use my outside leg correctly I'll be more balanced coming out of the turn and not be leaning over to the side like what's occuring coming off the third barrel.

Anyways--I'm trying to be critical so I know what I need to work on when I'm at home, not that much progress is going to be made two or three weekends a month--but please point out things I'm missing or correct me if I'm wrong on any points.

"The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears." Arabic Proverb
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post #13 of 17 Old 10-25-2010, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: St. Clair, Missouri
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Sorry about the video, youtube was being silly... here it is!

"The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears." Arabic Proverb
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post #14 of 17 Old 10-25-2010, 12:45 AM
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It's good you are working on the saddle issue. I'm guessing that that might be the source of the tail swishing. But do keep in mind that it is very possible that when you do finally find a saddle that fits her properly, she might still continue the tail swishing for a while out of pure habit. So it might take some time for the saddle's effect to "sink in".

Most everything you critiqued on your own run I agree with! I definitely like how she's looking with this O-ring snaffle. And you certainly still have plenty of control with her, as it appears to me anyway, so I see nothing wrong with continuing to use that. There's no rule that says you have to use a certain bit, and my mind is blanking on me, but there was a NFR-caliber horse ridden in a snaffle bit a few years back (I think that is where it was anyway). But it just goes to show that you should use what WORKS for you and your horse.

But again, like I said in my first post, if you do feel like she is running through the o-ring snaffle bit for whatever reason, you need to get her back to square one and get her listening to you at all times and STOP when you say so.

I can't quite tell where your hand position is around the 1st and 2nd barrel because the video is too small and blurry, but it looks really good around the 3rd. A lot of times, if a rider holds their hand too far out, that can pull the nose over too much. But your hand position looks good, so I would probably just try to work on leg cues a little more and try to *trust* her a bit and ease off on the rein cue so that she can have her head going around the turns.

I can't tell that you are leaning too soon coming out of the turns. But I can see the little bobble of balance on the way home! I went to a Lynn McKenzie barrel racing clinic a few years back and I really liked her theory on balance in the turns. It works well for me and my horse. Basically, right before you get into your pocket (let's say we are doing a left turn) you do NOT want to sit. Rather, very slightly lift yourself out of the saddle so that you can bring your right hip forward and your left hip back. Then, put almost all of your weight into your outside right stirrup. Do not kick with your outside leg. You can then kick with your inside left stirrup. You also grab onto the saddle horn with your right hand and wedge your right elbow into your hip so that you are really good and sturdy and not going to affect your horse in the turn. Then you simplly bring your left hand back toward your belt buckle, but keep that left hand (with the rein) within a 6 inch "box" of your saddle horn. And simply twist your wrist to turn.

I find that putting all my weight into my outside stirrup like that really helps my balance. Plus, it is pure physics! And I have taken my fair share of physics classes to know it too. You can keep momentum going much faster with weight to the outside. It's science.

Also, I like not "sitting" during the turn because I am better able to stay out of my horse's way and not be a sack of potatoes in my saddle. I am holding myself in a position that is best for the turn.

Granted, since you are still 2-handing your horse, you can skip the holding onto the saddle horn, but it is something to add when she is more seasoned.

Overall, she's looking pretty good and you are of course still working on things!

∞*˚ Βгįťţαňγ ˚*∞
It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.
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post #15 of 17 Old 12-02-2010, 06:29 PM
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I'm not an expert on barrels or poles. But your horse looked good compared to my pony who dosn't like barrels. Your a good rider.
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post #16 of 17 Old 12-03-2010, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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Location: St. Clair, Missouri
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Aww, that's really sweet! Thank you I appreciate that, I get so caught up watching the really good people go and where I want to be, I forget where I started from. Keep working and one of these days I'll get there!

Clinics just stepped my education up a notch--I've only ridden a few times sense my last post and not one single barrel or pole pattern--good news is I think I found a pad that works with the saddle, it's been too cold to work up a good sweat in, but she's more relaxed with our drills and stretching herself out when we run in the field. I'm sure the break from the pattern wont hurt her any... it's me I'm worried about on that one!

"The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears." Arabic Proverb
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post #17 of 17 Old 12-03-2010, 10:33 PM
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Everything looks good so far. Although i noticed that you should be using your legs more... and your not. Dont be afraid to kick her! (unless shes gonna buck) and in your poles get your legs on her! it will keep her from moving her butt everywhere !

Keep up the work and it will come! dont worry! It took me a few years to actually get it!
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