What do you look for in a barrel racing/pole bending prospect?!

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What do you look for in a barrel racing/pole bending prospect?!

This is a discussion on What do you look for in a barrel racing/pole bending prospect?! within the Barrel Racing forums, part of the Western Riding category
  • Difference between a barrel and pole horse
  • Qualities a horse needs for pole bending

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    06-18-2012, 10:18 PM
What do you look for in a barrel racing/pole bending prospect?!

Hey everyone! Now, I'm looking for a new horse and I has also been looking for my niche in the horse world! I have, and always have had a major interest in barrel racing!

My question is, what do you look for in a good barrel horse or prospect as far as conformation? Temperment? Anything like that! How to you even get into barrel racing? My friend barrel races and is going to give me a little crash course! ;) of course, once I really want to get serious I'll be getting a trainer.

Thanks everyone! Oh and feel free to post pictures of your can chasers! ;)
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    06-18-2012, 10:23 PM
Green Broke
I look for good confo in general, nice hip, straight legs, good shoulder, and the most important thing:

    06-18-2012, 10:40 PM
Anything else? Is speed or the turning ability more important?
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    06-18-2012, 10:56 PM
Green Broke
That's where the conformation comes into play, and the training. Any horse can run a barrel pattern with the training, but some horses will just naturally do it better, but if there is nothing in that pretty head, what's the point?
    06-18-2012, 11:31 PM
I know alot of barrel racers prefer tall, long legged horses for barrel racing because of their longer strides but I look for the short, stocky builds with good conformation. Like QHriderKE said any horse can run barrels but some can do it better. I feel that shorter stockier horses can run them better. I've had to option of running tall horses and they just feel alot different. My short horses always get "down" in their turns. But they have to be smart! And for temperment if the horse is extremely hot i'd steer clear of it.
    06-18-2012, 11:41 PM
For me, an ideal barrel horse is one that isn't too hot but can really kick it up when they need to, brains, and has a shorter, stocky, powerful, compact body. Like rle317 said, I think shorter horses can get down around the turns better. I like to see a powerful back end and a long stride.
I used to run a quarter horse/ arabian cross and he was fantastic, so if you don't mind a bit of arabian I would suggest looking at a few of those- of course, as they're crosses, you're going to see them with all different combinations of the two breeds, so make sure it's the right mix of them. :)
I think you've got it all set up to get into barrel racing, lol- try it out a bit with a friend, if you like it enough, get a trainer and go for it. Good luck!
    06-18-2012, 11:50 PM
Thanks y'all! This helps a lot!
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    06-19-2012, 04:30 AM
Green Broke
Alright, I'm not a breed snob by ANY means, and I'm not against grade horses..But one of my top qualities I look for is bloodlines..That to me speaks VOLUMES about the horse.. I won't get into why exactly I think breeding is a huge role in the things I look for when buying or looking at a prospect but it is very important to me for several reasons.

Other than that I look for conformation, brains, temperament, solid feet..I like the more compact horses and shorter horses, they seem to be able to follow through their turns better and can really use their feet and hind quarters more so than a longer strided horse. I have a Quarter Horse and two QH/TB appendix horses. I love the appendix cross between a running bred horse and a cow bred horse.. Those are the two great combinations I look for. I like a versatile horse, one that doesn't just run barrels, I want it to be able to do other things as well.. I look for a horse that can be calm when I want it to be calm and at the same time be the horse that means business when it gets in the alley way.. I'd rather have a hot horse than a dead head, but that's also just person preference. Both of my girls are very different riding styles..Nikki is a push style horse, I have to "ride" her the whole way and push her into her pockets because she rates so hard..With Lark, she's a free runner..She will give you her all when going between barrels but needs a little more checking and setting up for a turn than Nikki..

Because you're a beginner I would suggest looking for a finished barrel horse, not a prospect. If you're just learning the ropes you need a horse that's going to help you through it..Not a horse that you are having to work with and learn it all at once together. Good ages are probably 7ish to 12 or so..maybe even a little older.. A horse that's been around and knows the deal, and knows it's job and can help you through it. Something to build your confidence before moving up to a faster or more competitive horse.. A solid 3D or 4D horse is a perfect horse to start out with.
    06-19-2012, 12:06 PM
This is what I personally like.....

CONFORMATION: Big Hip, Sloped Shoulder, Shorter Back, Long Underside, Big deep Girth, Straight legs, good bone, good sized feet, nice neck, neck ties in well, level (not up or downhill if mature).

TEMPERMENT: I don't like hot horses but I don't like dead heads either. I want a horse that can THINK and PROCESS before reacting and not just blow up, ect. I don't want a horse that has a meltdown over little things or a horse that doesn't seem to really care what they are doing because they never react.

ATTITUDE: I want a horse with HEART and one that WANTS to do it's job, that puts everything they have and gives you it all when you run. I don't want a horse who doesn't have the drive or enthusiasm when working.

BREEDING: You always here some people say "you don't ride the papers"...well 98% of the top/successful barrel horses are bred out the behind with proven lines. Bloodlines might no play out in some cases but if they are out of proven parents the throw proven babies. Your chance of having a horse that succeeds in the barrel pen is a lot higher. But I have seen people with mutt bloodlines succeed.

I also stay with mainly stock breeds, I want my bloodlines Run/Cow. I don't want a horse who is bred Run top and bottom or a horse breed work top and bottom. I want run on one side and work on the other, because you get both run and turn. With all work you have turn but you don't usually have the speed between the barrels. And with all run you get hotter horses that you really have to drill rate into their head because they are so forward momentum bred.

BUILD: I want my horses stocky and between 15-15.3 hands....I personally prefer that range and don't am not a fan of shorter or bigger horses. But that is just a personal preference.

I think that is everything........this was a quick post so I am sure I am forgetting a few things. If I remember I will add them.
CLaPorte432 likes this.
    06-19-2012, 01:56 PM
Thank you guys so much! This really helps, and what would I be looking at price wise for a solid 4D or 3D horse in Texas?
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