How do you train your barrel horses? I am always wondering how others go about bringing there horses up into the barrel racing world...
This is a rough, short and sweet version of how we do ours.
Well we start them on the pattern in the early Spring of their 4 yr old year, at the end of their 4yr old year they are consistently loping the pattern usually. Depending on the horse itself some might be going a faster lope if they are mentally mature enough to handle that much. When starting them we work the barrels at least 4-5 days a week (time varies on how well they are working), we also do a lot of different drills and exercises off the pattern as well. We also try and haul them to some of the races and exhibition them to get them used to the surroundings and environment.
In the spring of their 5yr old year we start packing them and letting them cruise the pattern (a fast lope really) and through the year letting them just go their own pace and not pushing them at all. They usually get faster at their own pace when they feel they are ready. We still do a lot of slow work on the pattern at home and do a lot of drills. In the fall we usually cruise them through to see where there weak spots are and where they are falling apart and go back and work on those areas.
Then their 6 yr old year we start pushing them (if they are ready) and not full out. We push them but only to what they can physically and mentally handle. And by the end of their 6yr old year they are usually handling the pressure and speed well so are running good.
Their 7 yr old year is when we push start pushing and asking of them. They should be pretty well matured and seasoned on the pattern to where they know they have a job to do.
But our training program consists of a lot of slow steady work, we don't push our horses until they can handle it. If they are falling apart mentally (getting gate issues, rushing the barrels, shouldering, ect) they are not ready or need to really be backed off. And we try to avoid the nasty habits or gate problems and don't let them get sour or fire breathing dragons.
So ya like I said short and sweet........what is your training program like?