Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: with my room mates
Not sure how serious you're planning to get with barrels, but I will give you some tips.
1. I agree with anrz, you need to sit down through your turn. This will provide you with balance and stability and also will help your horse to dig in.
2. I would suggest going back to slow work. You should still probably be riding with two hands. You need to place more emphasis on your inside hand to tip your horse's face in a bit. At the same time you need to be pushing with your inside leg to get his body to go into that arch around the barrel. When you and your horse are ready to ride with one hand, you ALWAYS use your inside hand. I see it dangling in one and reaching back in the other. Also reaching back to your cantle, while fine for leisure, will throw your balance off during a pattern.
3. You need to get your weight out of your inside pocket, if you're leaning your weight to the inside that is where your horse is going to. Probably the reason why you knocked that barrel.
4. I would also suggest looking at where you want your horse to go, not your next barrel. While this differs for everyone I've had the best luck with looking at the next spot that I want my horses inside leg to go.
5. You also need to take him in a wider arch as you are too tight into the barrel. I would suggest about 4' away from the barrel if you're not going to do a pocket. If you are going to do a pocket, go wider than that on the front side of the barrel but cut the backside shorter. Either style should be an even circle the only thing that changes is where the barrel is placed inside that circle.
6. If you want to get your horse really sinking into the barrels you're going to have to get him more collected and on the bit. Your horse isn't going to be able to sink into the turns with his nose popped out. I would also suggest taking off the tie down if you feel comfortable with it. A tie-down should be there for your horse to brace himself against through a turn, not to restrict head movement. So you shouldn't really need one unless you're really cruising around my turn. That is just my opinion though.
If you do want to learn more about barrels I would suggest picking up one of the Charmayne James books, she has some excellent tips on getting started and getting your horse into a smoother pattern. Sorry if this was a little more in-depth than you wanted.