Before you start a horse on barrels...
I think it's great there is now a barrel racing section, but sad there's been no posts yet! So I thought this would be something good to start out with. :-)
What do you guys like your horses to KNOW and be able to DO before you start them on the barrel pattern?
W/t/c/g calmly. Adjust pace within each gait. Be able to move each zone of the body independantly - Head/neck, shoulders, ribcage, hindquarter. Be able to two track wether it be leg yeilding, shoulder in, etc. Solid stops. Either snappy simple changes or flying changes.
Over the years I have had a lot of people bring me barrel mares to breed to my reining stallions. That cross works very well. Out of all those mare owners about 95% of them send their 2/3yo to reining trainers for 2-6 months before they even start thinking about starting barrels with them. A good foundation that reining puts on those horses pays big time latter on.
They need to have a calm disposition. Leg aids, transitions between gaits smoothly with no explosive moments or little fits when asked to shut down. I want flying changes, full haunch turns and forehand turns. I want sidepassing and stops from the walk, trot, canter, gallop. Neck reins and direct reins. Vocal commands for tight turns and gaits. Seat cues. Flexing in every direction....
Like Kevinshorses said, everything! I'm a firm believer in barrel horses being trained to be reining horses first.
When I started my old pony mare, she had the transitions, leads, most leg cues, and most vocal commands down. I only do small local gymkhana's, so no big deal there. And guess what? After gymkhana-ing most of the summer, she was still completely good with it, and never freaked in the arena like many barrel horses Ive seen. She was a real nice all-rounder.
Could trail ride great, gymkhana great, and just "fun ride" great.
Now if it were going to be a pro racer, i'd say finish them off before starting barrels, because they will be competing long and big-time, usually.
I', a firm believer in a calm horse when they enter the arena, and a calm horse when you exit the arena, while listening in between going in and out.
Well, I may be alone on this, but I like horses to have 30-60 days of straight up reining training when they are 2 or 3. With reining, they learn to collect themselves, to change leads, and how to work off of leg cues.
There is a bunch of other stuff, but I'm too tired to type out a whole list. :) Everyone else pretty much covered my list as well.
Oh yes, reining training definately helps.
Jester had every sort of training before I did barrels on him. He never had any official barrel training...In fact, the first time he ever saw the pattern was at the first gymkhana. All he was thinking was "Oh, om wants me to run....Guess I probably should."
Everyone thinks its so funny because when we are outside the arena he's falling asleep, dragging his feet and being lazy....head down and eyes half-closed. But as soon as we stepped into that arena he turned catty and it was Go! Go! Go! until we stepped out again, thne he'd drag his feet, close his eyes and try to sleep again. Lol, everyone thought that was so funny. The newcomers never take us seriously until they see the run, and the time that just beat theirs ^^
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