Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Somewhere in WA
I still say...take her off the pattern until she is 4. I don't care how well a horse knows the pattern....I want them to have a solid foundation. A solid foundation is key to having a successful barrel horse, not how early you start them on it.
My 3yr olds get rode out, chase cows, look for cows, barely worked in the arena. There 3yr old year is about getting the broke broke broke, and getting their foundation solid. The only hauling they get is going to ride outside the arena....they don't SEE a barrel until they are very broke. If they can't do collected circles at all different sizes by themselves without me having to keep them up and shaped, solid stop, work off my leg with no bit contact at all, counter arcs, loose rein riding, ect....they are not going to see a barrel.
Their 4 year old year is when I start them on the pattern, get them going good at trotting, then after a couple months I will start hauling to do exhibitions. While they are still doing barrel work at home on the basics and just starting pattern work they get hauled to races and camped on. I don't really haul them to arenas as 3 yr olds as I want them OUTSIDE the arena getting used to everything the average horse isn't exposed to.
People rush into things and try to rush....the horse is 3....she needs hours in the saddle of riding....not on the barrels or in the arena. She needs to learn to go at the speed YOU want on a dropped rein no ifs ands or buts. If she is pulling on you already...she needs to go back to basic foundation work. She needs to have the basics and the solid foundation. If you start a pattern without a solid foundation....your pattern already is having a crack formed in THAT foundation which is gonna hinder you down the road, and doesn't matter if your just trotting. She isn't being fast...she is being chargy, slopping, and rushing.
It is the littlest things in a foundation that people forget....but a finished barrel horse needs to have control of its entire body. Hips, shoulders, ribs, head, neck, legs, ect. You as the rider need to have control of ALL those.
Hips- keeps the horse working correct and under itself in turns and powering
Shoulders- A shoulder that is up means your horse is working, if the shoulder is dropped the horse is gonna work of the frontend vs the hindend thus disengaging the hip
Ribs & Neck- You want to have bend and flex for a round horse if the horse doesn't bend in the ribs your horse isn't going to work properly
Head- a horse needs to focus on you...if their head and nose is fighting you...there is something going on.
Legs/Feet- if your horse is heading for the wrong side of the turn you need to be able to take hold and move them over. If your horse isn't responding and moving then your horse is lacking.
ALL those come from a solid foundation and what I have stated above a couple times. And that is where Counter Arcs are vital on a barrel horse....your taking hold and moving them where you want along with picking that shoulder up and moving it. And with a solid stop, back, collection, rollbacks, ect...
I really don't feel like your understanding why it is important to work on a solid foundation.
Conformation is how far the horse CAN go,
Mind is how far the horse WILL go,
Training is how far it DOES go.