Barrel racer-How to make her not just a barrel horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 11-23-2013, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Barrel racer-How to make her not just a barrel horse

I've been riding English horses for about a year now, and i still love English, but i have turned to Barrels when my sisters friend offered for me to let me use her horse for our city's 4-h. Her name is Savannah, but her barn name soon turned to Spaz after being trained so much in Barrels and always running, all she wanted to do was run. I love doing speed but that's not the only thing i want to do. I want to try some pleasure on her, and some English classes but the bit she uses is only legal in speed, and the reason she uses it comes to my first problem i need help on, even with a harsh bit she still pushes through it. Here's a picture of the bit she uses: Instagram Now with me trying English the next time riding her i cant use that bit, i have to find one softer but i know she wont stop if i don't use it. Help? Her next problem is with the barrels she cuts the end and heads to the 2nd barrel which makes us lose time,I've tried keeping a stronger old on one side of the reins and she'll turn her head completely but run to the same said while touching my nose to my boot. Here's an example of her problem. Other problem is she doesn't know what it means when i ask for a canter! I think this one explains it's self how do i help her learn. Last is when she shes an arena and we go in she will prance and not listen to anything i ask because all she wants to do is run. If you could help me with some training tips that would be great!
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post #2 of 10 Old 11-23-2013, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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This is her bit,$T2eC16J,!)EE9s2ufV3rBRiuyiKIvw~~60_35.JPG But we wrapped some of it to fit her showing colors.
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post #3 of 10 Old 11-23-2013, 02:48 PM
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It's going to take a lot of dedication and timing on your part to retrain her. You and your friend will need to agree to ride the same way during it and not run barrels for a while. You need to go back to the bare bones basics and ride her like she's just a youngster getting her first rides because that's where she's at in her training. Second, even barrel horses shouldn't be ran on barrels all that often. At home it should mostly be slow work with your running done mainly at shows.

You need to go back to the ground and teach her to give to pressure before you ride again. It will give you solid basics so that you can ride safely.

Put her in a rope halter and teach her to flex. Stand at one side of her, slide your hand down the lead rope until you just barely take the slack out of the lead then wait. If she slips her head, keep the same pressure on her but go with her, if she spins in circles, keep the pressure and walk with her, if she backs etc. Keep that light pressure on until she turns her nose toward you to put slack in the lead and stands still. When that happens, let her straighten her head and give her a little rub before you ask again. You aren't asking for her to turn her head a lot at this point, just a little. Keep repeating on that side until she'll give her head three times in a row without moving and without first pulling on you. Then go to the other side and teach it to that side. After it's initially taught, go back to the first side and check that it's good.

When you're asking her to flex you want to just hold light pressure. Don't pull, if you pull then you'll end up pulling after she has tried, be very aware of this as she'll learn slower if you don't ask properly. Next, it's light pressure. Grab a couple of her mane hairs and pull lightly. If you pulled hairs out you're pulling too hard. You don't want to pull hard because she already knows how to brace against that, the less pressure you apply the less the horse will see the need to fight it.

Then you want to teach her to disengage her hindquarters. For simplicity's sake in explaining start at her left side. Stand a bit father back down her side and with your left hand, have most of the slack taken out of the lead. Your right should hold the remainder of your leadrope, lean in slightly toward her hip and twirl the leadrope for a couple spins, then barely tap her hip the lext couple of spins, every couple of spins tap harder until she moves her hip away from you. If she tries to go forward shorten up the lead in your left hand a touch so she'd bent around you so her hip moves. After she understands to move in the first place get pickier. You want that left hind foot to step underneath herself and over her right hind foot when she moves away. Until she steps over like this don't release the pressure. Repeat this until she moves off of just the leadrope spinning before it touches her again three times or so. Repeat on the other side.

This should be able to be taught in a single session. I'd also teach her to lunge, but not for exercise. I lunge to get my horses attention by switching direction and speed often. On a horse that lunges very nicely doing the basics i'll also hold my lunge line differently to encourage the horse to do a smaller circle while they disengage their hindquarters on a circle.

You also want to desensitize to a dressage whip because you'll be riding with it. You want to make sure you can swing it all around her, that she's fine with it touching her and also to sensitize her to it. You want to be able to use it undersaddle to move her hip around so repeat the disengaging but using the dressage whip.

Practice getting things really good on the ground for a few days before you ride.

This is also a time to look for any small issues she has. They are all symptoms of a problem, does she stand when you mount? Does she stand tied quietly? Does she lead quietly without being pushy?

Do you have a roundpen to ride in or can you section off part of your arena with some panels or something?

Now you're going to ride in just that rope halter, you'll attach your reins after the knots on the halter where the cheek piece and the part going under the jaw come together by the knot. Go ahead and mount with her head flexed a bit and get your other stirrup. Flex her each direction to make sure that is nice and soft. After flexing a couple times on each side, flex her ( again lets say to the left), slide your left leg back to ask for her hip to move over ( just lightly press with your left calf), if she doesn't move use the dressage whip on her left hip by lightly tapping until she moves over a step. When she moves, quit tapping and take your leg off. Repeat until she'll move off of just you calf AND then stop moving when you remove it. Then you want to just flex her to make sure she doesn't anticipate moving her hindquarters around. When that side is good do the other side.

You want to make sure you have complete control at the standstill before you ask her to walk off, if you're out of control here then you'll for sure be out of control once you walk forward.

You will NOT be pulling back to stop. Forget about that, and forget steering. Simplify things, all you are worried about right now is a walk, and trot on a loose rein, loping when the trot is good and bending to a stop. You aren't pulling back because she knows how to evade that, she needs to go back to the very basics.

Now ask her to walk off. So you aren't tempted to use two reins, hold the saddle horn in your right hand and have your left hand slightly down the reins. Just let her walk around wherever she wants. If she so much as picks up her head and gets tense, take the slack out of that rein, holding your hand slightly outward and bend her to a stop. The same applies if she goes faster, just bend her down. You want her to disengage her hindquarters before she stops, use your leg and whip if you need to. Then have her stand and get relaxed again before you walk off again. You don't want to pull hard, she already knows how to pull against you and win, be soft.

When you can walk around on a loose rein ask for a jog, and repeat. If she gets tense or speeds up bend her to a stop. After a few stops you'll feel her start to relax as soon as you go to bend her down. When this happens you don't need to bend until she stops, just until she walks. When she walks calmly pick up the jog again.

When she jogs nicely ask for just a midge bigger trot until you've got it built up to a nice working trot. You may not lope for a few days and that's fine. You want each step great before you move on and that means being able to walk and trot on a loose rein before you lope.

That should occupy your time for a couple of weeks, after riding like that for that time you should start to feel a huge difference in this mare. At that point I can give you a few new things to work on.
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post #4 of 10 Old 11-24-2013, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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I do have a round pen and she doesnt stand to well when shes mounting so what the owner does is turn her in circles until she stops after about the 5th time you can mount her without her moving. She also likes to bite when you saddle her any tips on that?
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post #5 of 10 Old 11-24-2013, 03:15 PM
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Ok, things are making a bit more sense. It is very possible that her saddle doesn't fit. This would cause the aggression during saddling, reluctance to be mounted and being fast under saddle, because she's trying to get out from underneath the pain. Even if her saddle NOW does fit, past ill fitting saddles can cause long lasting pain. Things to look for is fist on the mare herself, how is she when you palpate down her back? Does she flinch away anywhere? Second, after you ride are you sweat marks even or are there dry spots? When she is saddled but not girthed up does your saddle sit nicely on her? Is it low on her withers but popped up in the back? Does the saddle rock forwards and back a lot? While you're riding does it shift side to side? Many times people will think their saddle fits when in reality it doesn't, A start for ruling this out is posting some saddle fitting pictures in that section of the forum. If that checks out great. If she's sore then chiropractic work will help her out, with best results with a massage therapist as well. I know, it sounds like a lot but a sore horse won't perform as well as a pain free one. Another thing I forgot to mention is her teeth. If they need floated a bit can be painful.

Now if pain is ruled out here's how i'd address all that.

Biting during saddling is often pain related but it can be a training problem. This is to be addressed after the basic groundwork I stated in m above post after she lunges. If you are not pretty coordinated don't attempt this while she's on a leadrope. Have her loose in the roundpen, this is so you do not get tangled up. Go back to treating her like a youngster again. This is easiest to do with a rope, extra soft with an aluminum honda, you want the aluminum honda so it releases easy. You can also do it with a lungeline, put the lungeline through the clip and you'll have a similar thing though it won't release quite as well. Drape it over her head and have her step into it where it's now where you can tighten it like a girth.

Slowly start to pull it up, if she so much as pins her ear send her off in the roundpen, keeping a little tension on the line. You want to send her off counter clockwise so she doesn't get tangled up either. You don't need to send her off for long, just for her to get the point. The easy thing here is standing to be saddled, the hard thing is trotting around. Then have her stop and let it release and pull it up again. If she is behaving, rub the rope back and forth a bit then release. You just want her used to it tightening and loosening up. When she's good, let the rope get slack. When she's bad send her off away from you.

The above is how I would address it, I strongly suggest having supervision while doing so. If you are questioning your coordination, don't do it. Just saddle her while you're holding her and go slow, if she pins her ears or looks like she'll go to bite, give her a pretty firm smack. Then go to tighten your girth again. Whenever she looks grumpy, address it. When she behaves, loosen it a bit and give her a rub. When shes good when you first start to tighten your girth proceed to tightening a bit more. You want her loose so you can address the problem, if she's tied then its just a bandaid because doing the wrong thing is impossible.

After the groundwork, you should see a big improvement in her standing to mount. Split reins are the easiest for this exercise, or just have her in the halter without the leadrope tied as reins. Flex her head ( which is now understood as don't move our feet through the groundwork). Can you lift your leg to the stirrup without her moving? Can you put your left hand in her mane ( head still flexed) and right on the saddle horn? Can you put your foot in the stirrup? Can you get halfway on?

Whenever you find a point that she moves, move her off away from you, lunging a circle. Make her do a nice working trot and nag her a bit so it's even more uncomfortable for her to move, moving is the hard thing here afterall. Then stop her and repeat, wen she tries to move, step down and move her off immediately. After you move her off a couple of times she'll get it and you'll be able to get closer and closer to mounting. Even after she does stand still you want to mount a few times to make sure she really gets it.

After you mount you always want to just chill out for a few moments. This will solidify standing still. If you mount and immediately walk off horses anticipate moving and she'll go back to walking off when you mount because she'll walk off as son as you're on anyway.

Another thing to look at is how you mount. This can be a huge cause in teaching a horse to walk off because even tiny people can knock a horse off balance.
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post #6 of 10 Old 11-24-2013, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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Makes sense all of this, im going up to work with her again this weekend, and then wait for winter to be done to really do the training with no barrels, but i wont ride her, only work on the ground work. The saddle is measured for her back it doesnt lift, its only when i girth her she turns her head to bite, ill smack her shoulder when she does it and push away her head and tighten it a bit more until she stops then i let the girth go so she just has a saddle on her back, and give her a rub, but as i said its only me she does this too.. Im new to riding her so she might just be testing me, but i do the mount and hold her in a stand until shes knows we are just standing then i ask her to go. But this weekend i will start working with her. Start putting softer english bits in her mouth. Hopfully she will get better thanks for all your help!
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post #7 of 10 Old 11-24-2013, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by SpazzyGirl View Post
Im new to riding her so she might just be testing me
Excellent advice by BreakableRider.

The only other thing I am going to add is that you should be working with a trainer to help you re-train this horse. Even if you can only get a couple lessons; that is better than nothing.

That is ALOT of headgear on that poor horse. And in this case, the horse is doing nothing wrong. The horse is confused, and frustrated, and doesn't know what is expected of her. She's not been shown how to respond correctly to pressure.

I would imagine this horse has been ridden this way for years. so it will take a long time to correct the issues that have become bad habits.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
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post #8 of 10 Old 11-24-2013, 07:17 PM
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Spazzy, the only thing I have to add to your las post is don't hold her at a stop. In order for a horse to learn they have to be able to choose the wrong thing, by babysitting her into keeping still she isn't learning. After you mount give her head back and give her the opportunity to walk off. If she does, bend her back to a stop then give her head again. When she is standing nicely on her own then ask her to walk off.

Like I stated before, you need to be control at the stand still before going to a walk. If you have to hold her back to stay stopped she's trying to run off before you have ever moved.
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post #9 of 10 Old 12-01-2013, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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This is my first year riding her, and with all the head gear a lot of speed horses have it, its nothing to new to that world i only use it when doing speed then switch to a simple bridle, i cant ride her now but in the spring ill come back to this and re read and start working on her
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post #10 of 10 Old 12-01-2013, 09:20 PM
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You've been given some great advice, I hope it's taken. As for your comment, the bit used on that mare isn't even seen much anymore. It's an older bit that's not used much. I have no issues with bigger bits if used right, but if she has problems being controled in that she needs broken down to basics in a lighter bit. That's my 2 cents thrown in.
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barrels , bit , problem , speed , stopping

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