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Sis 03-07-2013 02:31 PM

Training a horse to barrel race, & lead changes??
Okay, so I want to start running barrels with my mare. I have already started patterning her, and she will trot and canter pretty nicely around the barrels. I ride English and western, but I've never really known much about running barrels. I have a couple friends who do it, and of course I've seen it at rodeos and gymkhanas...

However, I don't know very much about barrel racing, and I was hoping some of you experienced barrel racers could give me some tips on starting out. Are there any particular gymnastics that would be beneficial for conditioning her for barrels? I know there's a lot more to it than just galloping around the barrels...but how hard is it to train your horse to balance himself around the turns, and "sit and spin"? Is that really necessary? I know these probably sound like stupid questions to those of you who know what you're doing. :wink: But do you have to switch leads during your run? I never really payed attention to that, I guess. :-) My mare doesn't know how to perform flying lead changes yet, so that would be a problem.

I have a barrel racing book by Sharon Camarillo (I think) that I'm going to read, so that should help a lot. But pleasee leave any tips/advice! Anything you want to tell me that will be even a little bit helpful is welcome.
Thank you!

beau159 03-07-2013 03:11 PM

First I would recommend that you check out the "sticky" on this barrel forum here:

We all contributed to it so that it can be a place for newbies to read through.

But to answer a few of your questions up front...
It can take anywhere form 6 months to 2 years to train a barrel racing horse from start to finish. So the key is to be patient. And go at the horse's pace.

If you try to go faster than the horse is ready for, you will create bad habits that are very hard to fix later on, and you could potentially make your horse soured on them. When horses are pushed faster than they are ready for, they get confused because they don't know what is expected of them. That confusion is what leads to the horse getting soured and frustrated with the rider.

Flying lead changes are not necessary to train for barrels, but it is helpful. At the minimum, your horse needs to know simple lead changes.

When your horse is a finished barrel racer, they will switch leads on their own, because they know what to expect. But when you are training them, it is often best to cue them so that you can set them up for a successful turn. (They can't turn a barrel properly if they are on the wrong lead.)

If this is your first time barrel racing, I ALWAYS suggest that you work with a trainer who can show you hands on. You can read all the books you want, and watch all the videos you want, but hands-on training cannot be replaced.

You wouldn't want an airplane pilot to fly the plane because he feels confident because he read all the books and watched all the videos .... but had zero hands on training .... would you? So you should never expect to learn something you've never done before without having hands-on and in-person training.

But first read through that sticky thread I posted. We've got a lot of good info in there. Feel free to ask any more questions though!

Annanoel 03-07-2013 06:11 PM

Well said Beau! As always seems like we're all beating each other to these threads otherwise we repeat! LOL.

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