Join Date: May 2009
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
This. Huge applause. I do the exact same thing with my mare - she's a far cry from a barrel racer but we have a little fun show in a week. She KNOWS how to run, she's got RUN down pat, all I have to do is hiss in her ear and she's off like a rocket and you better not get left in the dust. The run home does not need to be practiced whatsoever. I am sharpening her up on barrels at the trot and canter, and when we come around that last barrel I drop my reins and she walks "home". I KNOW she knows how to run, and jazzing her up at home will only make her hot, difficult to control and anticipating of the pattern.
Based on what you've said, you're doing far too much pattern work. I don't care what gait it's at working the pattern a dozen times a day at varying gaits is NOT going to produce a winning or even remotely sane/well controlled barrel horse. The pattern should matter the absolute least to any good barrel racer - refinement and response should be top of the list.
For example, most reiners I know can put a reining horse on a barrel pattern and beat out well over half the barrel racers in my area. Why? Theirs horses are well trained - PERIOD. A horse listening 110% to it's rider, and perfectly fine tuned to every leg, seat and rein command is going to do better every single time on a pattern it's never seen then someone who runs the pattern incessantly (at any speed) and produces a jacked up horse who only thinks about running.
I've seen Dressage horses who've never seen a jump do better courses then half the jumpers I see who do NOTHING but jump. It works in every single discipline. Racehorses don't race everyday. Dressage horses don't work a test everyday. Reiners don't work a pattern every day. And neither should a barrel horse.
I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.