Most pro barrel racers don't even look at a pattern until well into the third year or later. Everything prior is building blocks. Your horse needs to be BROKE before patterning.
Mine are imprinted at birth - my goal being to desensitize all of the body, teach to give to pressure (AKA don't or quit pulling and I will release), introduce sounds and sensations - such as brushing, clipping, etc...
I handle daily for the first 2 months and try to make sure that they are also able to interact with other foals and horses. Nothing teaches the concept of respect better than being in a herd environment.
I give them a break and let them be a horse for the most part. I do try to handle and go through my handling regime about once a week.
I do lots of Clinton Anderson ground work.....don't over do it, just slowly build.
By coming 2 my guys are respectful on the ground, stand tied, stand for bath, farrier, clipping, give laterally on both side, will lower head for haltering, MOST important for me - just from light contact and body cues **disengage hindquarters, stop in hand as soon as I stop, back up, trot and side pass in hand**. I will also line drive them with either a surcingle or light saddle and reins hooked to a halter (NO BIT). I have also hauled them and ponied them at show grounds, trail rides, paddocked them in high traffic/noise areas, and introduced them to everything scary I can find. My goal being that they learn to take cues from me on what is scary.
First year under saddle is short and sweet give and flex sessions. Build to walk, trot; with emphasis on whoa, one rein stop with hindquarter disengagement. They learn to feel your body cues and stay light on the mouth. Once that is solid move up to canter. Again emphasis on transitions not speed. Don't worry about speed AT ALL until well into third or fourth year (and that even depends on if you are going to futurity. Futurity are never raced 4 and 5 yr olds.
Second year under saddle, build on your foundation. Get more flex, quicker whoa and go ---not talking haul butt, just get the transition quicker. Control is key in racing. You have to have that horse so tuned and broke that you can pick you pocket and rate him, get him under himself, then push out of the pocket all from your seat and light hands. He has to be broke and tuned for this, not just wild, gung ho and fast. Fast isn't worth squat if he blows past your pocket and isn't taught to listen to your cues or even taught hues. Pushing cattle or playing soccer are good too.
Third year, build on your handle. Set up some horsemanship pattens and fine tune your handle. Use cones to begin with. Late into third year switch the cones with barrels and work on turning barrels - - don't do cloverleaf. All you want is for him to learn how to hunt and turn a barrel. Practice slow work for rate: fast walk between, slow walk around with emphasis on speeding back up to fast walk as soon as you clear the barrel. Work up to trot, walk, trot. Then up to canter, trot, canter. After that, switch them up and keep him honest. The transition should start at your rate point.
THEN introduce the cloverleaf. Get the above slow work down pat.
Depending on whether you are going futurity or not, start with just doing exhibition at the shows. Let him build up his speed at this point. Get use to different ground, the sight and sounds.
IF you are futurity, then several months before you are due to show start pushing a little and see what he's got in the exhibitions. Let him get a taste of it. Slow work at home. Do several exhibs, with nice and easy loping and then a couple faster, then one with lots of encouragement - then depending on your horse maybe one controlled lope to remind him to stay focused.
So, for now, work on hands on desensitizing, respect and introducing new things. Research foundation ground work and riding. Introduce new elements of these as she matures. Haul her around too once she is weaned. Next year, get the in-hand stuff down, then introduce long lining. Pony her if you can.
Research slow work in prep for barrel racing....that will help you see what your foundation ground work and eventual riding is going to do. Make some goals. This month learn this, next month build to this if we are solid.....
My horses have done so well on dac that I became a rep. Stand behind 'em 110%.
Last edited by Barrelracer Up; 07-07-2009 at 03:20 PM.
Reason: Wrote the transitions at barrel slow work wrong!