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kavalon 02-12-2013 01:31 AM

Curious about barrels
Hey :) Im really curious about barrels. I've been riding my whole life, mostly english but I've done some western. And when I was in FFA all the girls did barrel racing and I felt so out of place. And I love english very much, but I always want to try new things. So whats wrong with being a hunter/jumper and a barrel racer? I really want to try it and learn more about it :) So if anyone could tell me a little bit about it and tell me how you would start out getting into it? Thanks! :)

SorrelHorse 02-12-2013 04:32 AM

There's nothing wrong with doing both! I myself dabbled in a lot of things english ad western before finally settling my focus on barrels. Good horsemanship is good horsemanship in all the disciplines.

What I would do as your first step is look around for any reputable barrel trainers in your area and look for some lessons. On a really well trained, season barrel horse you'll find you use a whole different set of muscles than when you are jumping! When I was doing more english than barrels, the first time I ran my barrel horse after doing an eq over fences class I felt my entire back pop leaving the second barrel and realized how out of shape I was, and even now going back and riding english as well takes a toll on me after riding my barrel horses only.

After you find the trainer and kind of get a feel for it, maybe look around for some local jackpots or gymkhana series that you can go play at. I LOVE my local gymkhanas, a lot of the big time barrel racers will look down their nose at you but they are SO much fun and so good for your horse to get to do all those different events. And of course jackpots, always nice to win a little money ;D

beau159 02-12-2013 11:54 AM


Originally Posted by SorrelHorse (Post 1890456)
I LOVE my local gymkhanas, a lot of the big time barrel racers will look down their nose at you but they are SO much fun and so good for your horse to get to do all those different events.

Me too! Gaming events all day. LOVE IT! No, it is not as glamorous as winning the 1D out of 1,500 barrel racers and being on the cover of barrel horse news, but the small gaming shows are still a blast.

I've been barrel racing and doing gaming events since I was 4 years old. I'm now approaching 27. And I just took my first official English riding lessons over the winter. :wink: So it is never a bad thing to try new things and experience new things!

So there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing both!

I agree with sorrelhorse completely. When you are dabbling in something you've never done before, it is always best to take some lessons from a barrel racing trainer. That will give you the opportunity to get a feel for barrels on their lessons horses, before you go out and buy your own. Plus, there is A LOT more to barrel than just running around 3 cans as fast as you can. Just like there is more to show jumping that galloping around on your horse and hopping over fences. So at the minimum, even if you aren't going to do anything besides "just for fun" with it, you should still learn how to do it correctly.

I had actually stumbled across on episode of Swapping Saddles where a barrel racer and an English jumper swapped disciplines. It was neat to watch! I started a thread about it a while back.

DrummRunner also started a good thread about barrel exercises.

Along with barrel racing lessons, it's always beneficial to get your hands on other resources such as DVDs and books. Charmayne James, Martha Josey, Ed and Martha Wright, Sharon Camarillo, are just a few names of great books. Charmayne James and Dena Kirkpatrick have amazing training DVDs as well.

Dena has a bunch of free clips on Youtube, and Sherry Cervi has a couple trouble shooting clips. That's a good place to start.

Iseul 02-12-2013 11:57 AM

I love barrels. (: We have a pony that can take a trail class, place in games, and place in hunter/jumper (as long as the judge doesn't hate paints or hold a grudge since they don't show APHA, lol).

If I could jump ST I think she'd place hunters and I know we'll be taking barrels as soon as I can get an arena to actually put her to work in (no flat areas at this farm).
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kavalon 02-12-2013 05:08 PM

Im glad that other people see it the way I see it I kinda wanna do everything! :) but what is the best way to find a good barrel trainer?

smrobs 02-12-2013 05:22 PM

Go to local rodeos/gymkhanas, watch the barrels and pick out which horse you like the training on the best. Not necessarily the horse with the fastest time, but the horse who is under control in the alley, runs smooth, is responsive, and is soft on the bit. Then, talk to the rider and find out who trained them and their horse.

beau159 02-12-2013 06:38 PM

Yup. Word of mouth and asking around is usually the best way to find a trainer. People will give you their true opinion if they liked a trainer or not.

Breezy2011 02-12-2013 07:00 PM

I love barrels and other gymkanna sports. My first advice to you would see if your horse has the heart for barrel racing, get lessons from a barrel trainer on your own horse, if you are wanting to barrel race on him, but if he doesn't have the heart, you will need to get another horse, who was bred for western or barrels. If you really want to get into barrel racing, get a seasoned barrel horse, or ride one in your lessons.

Secondly, don't take this the wrong way, but if your horse was trained english, and has never barrel raced, or ridden western very much, then you probably won't get a good, willing barrel horse out of it.

kavalon 02-12-2013 07:19 PM

WEll the thing is I would not use the same horse that I use for jumping for barrels. If I ended up liking barrels I would by a good barrel horse as im really competive lol.

SorrelHorse 02-13-2013 03:11 AM

^ That's the best way to do it.

When I decided to try english, I was prepared to just use my little painted cow pony.

My trainer had another idea. She brought out this massive schoolmaster warmblood for me to ride. Even when I felt totally messed up, that horse made me look GOOD over fences and in the dressage arena because he knew his job. Just like some barrel horses will compensate for their riders errors as well, just like that horse did for me.

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