Where is the perfect pocket & how do I make it? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 05-09-2012, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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Where is the perfect pocket & how do I make it?

Is there anything you can do to describe the perfect pocket to me? How far out should I be (in words that make it easier to understand please)

& should I put cones up to help me find it better?
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post #2 of 16 Old 05-09-2012, 10:06 PM
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Here is a picture of what I would consider the "perfect pattern".

I like this diagram because it shows the axis points, or the points you need to hit to make a good turn. I like to be about three to four feet from the barrel - the same distance all the way around. This will depend a little bit on the size and turning style of your horse.

I have heard it taught that you should go in wide and come out tight, but I personally don't think this works very well. A nice, round pocket about three feet away will be your best bet. The horse should be nice and shaped all the way through the turn and hit all the axis points with is body, not just his head.

The bold part is the transition area where you rate your hores and collect for the turn. The length of this will depend a lot on the horse, the ground, and the size of the pattern.

You can set up cones if you want; sometimes they can be really helpful for training yourself on positioning. Just don't get used to looking at them a lot or relying on them; because they won't be there when you compete!

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post #3 of 16 Old 05-10-2012, 10:25 AM
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At the Charmayne James clinic I attended her perfect pocket was the same amount of the barrel all the way around, each time. About 2 foot from the barrel, in, around and out, then onto the next barrel..
You rode almost straight out between barrel one and two,making the turn to the first barrel, stayed about 2 foot all the way around and then straight to next barrel. No cutting into the barrel from the beginning, no sharp angled turns, a smooth motion all the way through. She also had us picking up the inside rein and pushing the outside leg into the horse, not the inside leg pushing the horse out. This would round out his body and make him push with his hindend, less chance of shouldering in.
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post #4 of 16 Old 05-10-2012, 10:29 AM
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I go into the pocket about 2-3 feet off the barrel, and come out within inches of the barrel.

"The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with
him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too."

-Samuel Butler
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post #5 of 16 Old 05-10-2012, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by hjracer View Post
Here is a picture of what I would consider the "perfect pattern".

Which diagram shows fewer strides?

Let me explain. Ive always been taught and Ive learned through experience MOST horses tend to learn better in straight lines. They react to cues better.....and learn to be snappier in their turns. In barrel racing the time comes down to tenths of seconds. You dont want to waste ANY strides. Thats why I pattern mine square style. Its an easy style that horses tend to pick up quickly...and its easy to tweak for different horses.

Charmayne is a GRAET barrel racer....no doubt about that. Shes a friend of my BO. She recommended the equal distance turn to him and his daughter to use on the appy that I started working with. the horse or the daughter didnt get it. I started him on the square style and both of them immediately clicked. Im not saying my method (and LGs....and a few others ;) ) is better and hers is wrong Im just saying its hard for the average rider and horse to perfect a perfect circle bc most dont know how to train their horse to be able to MOVE in a perfect circle.

So this is the way my trainer teaches...the way Ive been patterning and its pretty fail proof. And like I said, its easy to tweak for horses that need to turn differently. I started the other gelding Im riding for someone this method...and found that he needs more of an equal distance turn on the 2nd.

Now to explain my diagram.
PINK- sitting deep in the saddle rating your horse
GREEN- hitting your sturrip...rocking hips

Explaining a little

And put on the pattern (not me riding)

And my mare and I exhibitioning (she slowed a little too much in her pocket on the 2nd)

"If you're dating a cowgirl raise your glass. If you're not raise your standards."

Last edited by 1RedHorse; 05-10-2012 at 10:53 AM.
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post #6 of 16 Old 05-10-2012, 10:54 AM
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I was always told to make a pocket, a few feet, on the front side of the barrel, and then leave as close to the back side as possible, and head in a straight line for your next barrel....

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post #7 of 16 Old 05-10-2012, 11:10 AM
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Since we're on the video sharing roll, I loooove the pocket I made at a trot on the first barrel here:

I think it's almost perfect for practice.

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post #8 of 16 Old 05-10-2012, 11:57 AM
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I don't think most people will agree on one way, since everyone rides different. Personally I like the square style, (never had a name for it, thanks) because it's the way I've always rode and have been taught. It's how most horses I see run. It works for the 3 I ride, each have their own adjustments made for them but it works. My horse has been taught to come off a bit wider on the barrels because he has a bad habit of dragging them over if not. My boyfriends little cow pony I ride, he can slide right around the barrels and come off touching the barrels. They all turn different. The perfect circle thing to me just doesn't seem very time efficient.
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post #9 of 16 Old 05-10-2012, 12:03 PM
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I don't believe in a "perfect pocket" because it really depends on the individual horse and what they are comfortable with along with how they turn.

My good horse I have a good 5ft space between me and the barrel but when I am going in but when my leg is even with the barrel I take him a step deeper because he is a very turny horse. But on our 1st barrel I have a 3ft pocket because he likes to sometimes go by a stride so I make tha pocket a bit smaller.

Now on my 5yr old I I have a 5ft pocket going in but it gets bigger to about 6-7 on the backside because he is a more push style and I have to push him in and go back to a 5ft pocket coming out.

Now my big running mare gets about a 7ft pocket just because of her size (16.3+hh) any smaller and she sorta crumbles.

And I don't like leaving close to the barrel because I have seen a lot of hit barrels because the horse turns right on top of the barrel coming out, I like a nice even space throughout. You don't need to make the pocket smaller you just need to teach the horses how to finish the barrel correctly and head straight for the next.
I always let my horse put themselves where they feel comfortable and go from their. And I over exaggerate my pockets because the horse is going to get closer when running faster.
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Last edited by BarrelRacingLvr; 05-10-2012 at 12:07 PM.
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post #10 of 16 Old 05-10-2012, 12:26 PM
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If you come out inches from the barrel, good chance your horse or you will hit it and down it goes. See that alot.
Charmayne uses lots and lots of trotting the pattern and stopping and starting, all at a trot.
To each his own.
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