Re-training the ex-barrel racer

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Re-training the ex-barrel racer

This is a discussion on Re-training the ex-barrel racer within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • How to teach an ex barrel raver to walk on loose rein

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  • 2 Post By elbandita
  • 1 Post By Aesthetic
  • 2 Post By SorrelHorse
  • 2 Post By howrsegirl123
  • 1 Post By skiafoxmorgan

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    04-19-2014, 09:22 PM
Re-training the ex-barrel racer

I am working with a 17 year old gelding who used to run barrels. His current owner just wants him as a safe w/t/c horse for her daughter. He is very kind and has a great work ethic. But as to be expected, he still has some barrel horse in him. When you ask him to trot from the walk, he wants to canter. He is by no means uncontrollable, but he is fairly headstrong and very forward thinking. I think he has potential to be a flat/rail horse because he moves very well, just needs work on softening and relaxing through his head and neck. For those of you who have experience with working with ex-barrel racers, what are some things I should be doing to get him nice and relaxed and out of 'barrel' mode?
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    04-19-2014, 09:43 PM
Take it slow. Slow work. Include things like backing stopping side passing and different obstacles at a walking pace. Keep your workouts fresh and fun but slow.
    04-20-2014, 08:21 PM
Definitely what was stated above. When was the last time he was ran in the pattern?
If he hasn't been used for much except barrels, he needs to get out and slow work. Ride trails, long walks and trots.
Are you riding loose rein? Contact or nervous?

I'd definitely work with him like he's a green horse, technically he is green to what you're asking.
skiafoxmorgan likes this.
    04-20-2014, 09:27 PM
Holding a slight almost upwards contact on your inside rein tipping his head just enough to see the side of his bridle, is how many barrel horses are ridden. It helps control them. Have you tried this?
    04-20-2014, 09:32 PM
Get his head. Soften him. If he wants to speed up, back him off your hands then trot him again. If he speeds up, back him off again. Do a lot of figure eights and things to make him thinking.

I really hate barrel horses who are started like that and get into bad habits..A barrel horse should be as broke and quiet as anything else...Sigh.
beau159 and howrsegirl123 like this.
    04-21-2014, 10:36 AM
Look at Aesthetic's thread, Problem Horse in this same forum. There is some decent advice there for reschooling a barrel horse. Her problem seems to be alley related, but barrel horses in general can all benefit from the advice being presented in that thread.
    04-21-2014, 10:38 AM
I'm not sure when he last ran, or how long he's been out of work, etc.

I think the goal for now will be walk-trot transitions. And softening.
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    04-21-2014, 10:45 AM
Originally Posted by howrsegirl123    
I'm not sure when he last ran, or how long he's been out of work, etc.

I think the goal for now will be walk-trot transitions. And softening.

When he was last used for work and how often he gets rode away from his previous job has a lot to do with him calming down.

Also, what bit is he being rode in? I've known some horses who will act like a hot horse under heavier hands or a stronger bit. I believe it may come from the anticipation many horses feel before going into the arena.

I'd focus on what you have and stated above, collect his head and body, work him slowly and if he tries to go a faster speed than you want, sit him back and back up, than try again.
    04-21-2014, 10:52 AM
When a speed horse goes bad, the best thing for it is to forget about speed. :) If there is a lack of absolute control at a walk, that lack of control will be amplified at a trot. I think you are starting with two good, achievable goals. Walk, bend and flex at a walk in both directions, learning leg and seat aids at a walk, walking concentric circles in both directions, then transition work. When you can do all that at an even jog/trot without breaking pace, you're ready for new goals.

I recently had to work a horse out of a tendency to engage a strung-out, breakneck trot when asked to move out of a walk. There was no collection, no rate, no evenness...just walk, then head-in-the-air wiggling trot with lots of spooks thrown in for good measure, because her last rider would then walk her back to the barn on a tight rein and get off. Circles every time she increased speed on her own helped, but not as much as the walk/trot transition work. I'd have her trot ten or twenty strides and then sit down and ask for the walk. We'd walk ten to twenty strides, and I'd pick up the reins, shift weight, and ask for the trot. Eventually, she stopped anticipating that the trot was going to get her anywhere, and she stopped trying to get "there" so quickly. The trot became smoother, she began looking for the cue to slow down (because she was anticipating it), and she became very responsive to weight and seat and voice. After that, circles were used to check any increase in speed. Last time I rode her, we were doing a lovely western pleasure jog on a loose rein, with only the occasional need to check her speed using circles. Also? Those spooks became a lot less frequent. Good luck.
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