Starting a Barrel Pattern
Wondering when people start their young ones on barrel patterns? Is there a particular age or particular stage in training that you feel a young horse is ready to start focusing on pattern work?
There is more to Barrel Racing then just going around barrels multiple times...
Process is the same with horses of any age except the first step. If they are ready to go I take them to the pattern if they are not then I go back to the foundation and build from there.
We start ours in the spring of their 3yr old year, and they mainly just get RODE and broke. We don't do pattern work with them as 3...instead we ride out, if a friend needs help checking or gathering cows we take them. We might haul them a to a few races and either they stand tied and saddled, or I might ride them around during the Exhibitions and just sit in the arena and let them chill. Their 3yr old year is them getting broke broke broke and a solid foundation. I want them feather light (prefer a dressage foundation) to all cues from my seat, legs, hands, mouth, and neck rein.
Any horse I want them to be soft, supple, and be able to move every part of their body. They need to know how to have control over their body as well and know where to put what where and when.
-Lightly Back up
-Move their front end
-Move their hips/hindend
-Soft in the face
-Lope collected circles at different sizes.
BROKE BROKE BROKE before they EVER see the pattern.
Their 4yr old year we start them on the pattern, we probably work the pattern 4-5 days a week depending. The days we are not working barrels we are just riding or doing drills. I usually will warm them up with some drills then go to the pattern for a short time then be done. By the end of the season (usually October) they might be high loping the pattern, depends on the individual horse. They just get a solid pattern foundation, they also get hauled and do a few exhibitions and haul a lot more to get exposure.
Their 5yr old year we start letting them pick the speed that they want to go, some go a high lope while others go a little faster. I could care less about speed at the beginning of their 5yr old year because I want consistency, and am not so worried about how fast they are going. The horse needs to feel comfortable and I don't like pushing them more then they can handle so that is why I am in no hurry starting out the year (plus I don't do futurities anyway). Throughout the year they slowly start getting more confident and the speed comes with the confidence. I ask and encourage, and not pushing them to go faster they what they are comfortable. By the end of the year they have a pretty good run through the pattern. Their 5yr old year is when they start getting hauled with the big horses and get exhibitioned at every race and if they are doing good at the end of the year I may enter them in a couple.
Their 6yr old year is when we start asking them for speed and expecting more out of them. By this time they are ready to handle runs and places so can handle the pressure being asked.
Like I said we don't do Futurities and I am not a fan personally, because you have to push young horses faster then what I like.
But I don't always do barrels....like I said I do a lot of drills with tires, barrels, poles, trees, brush, ect. I may ride them in the bottom pasture and just exercise them on our sand track. I do do slow work often though so they know barrels are just barrels and do not always mean RUN RUN RUN.
So this doesn't happen in a few days, weeks, months but a couple years at LEAST to get them going good before even running full out. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and patience.
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