Thinking about Barrels
I'm thinking about patterning my mare on barrels.
I was wondering what are some excersizes I could do to improve her turn? I have been doing lots of circles and flexing.
Also any tips on patterning a horse would be greatly appreciated.
Rollbacks are great for getting a horse to use their hind end to turn.
I wouldnt concentrate so much on the pattern as I would the fundamentals of what it takes to barrel race.
You may want to also post this in the Barrel Racing section (I know this section gets more action, but you may get more useful responses there).
This is pretty much what I would write, except when I practice I stop my horse right beside the barrel and back up, then stop for a second and let him think. Then I walk forward until I'm just a hair past the barrel and then turn. When I run, I sit down when I'm right at the barrel and then turn once he's just slightly past it. Don't forget to use leg pressure also. Inside leg pressure when you're going into your turn and turning and outside leg pressure when you're coming out.
Here is a video on youtube of a helpful pattern exercise that I like to use that really helps with your turns. I'm not sure what the lady is saying because I can't turn the sound up on my computer at work, but she demonstrates the funnel barrel pattern at the end of the video. Figure eights also help too.
Get your horse BROKE BROKE BROKE and then if you still can't find anything funner that running barrels then only work once or twice weekly with actual barrels and rarely above a trot. Break down what it takes to turn well around a barrel and work on the individual components seperately. This way you will have a horse that is useful for other things and won't be soured on barrels.
While it is important for you horse to eventually have the pattern memorized, your horse should be 100% broke to ride in every way BEFORE you even start patterning on the barrels.
-The horse should neck rein.
-The horse should ALWAYS stop on cue.
-The horse should back up.
-The horse should know both simple leads and flying lead changes.
-The horse should be reponsive to leg cues (move away from pressure).
-The horse should be able to move in a relaxed manner at the walk, trot, and gallop.
-Basically, the rider should be able to move the horse's body in any way they please.
So make sure you have general training taken care of before you hit the pattern.
There are lots of great books and DVDs out there on barrel training such as Charmayne James, Marlene McRae, Sharon Camarillo, Sherry Cervi, Martha Josey, and many more.
But main idea is to keep your pattern a bit larger (bigger circles around the barrels, and more exagerated) because a new horse to the pattern is going to need more room when they are starting out. Later in training as they are becoming seasoned, the pattern will "suck in" because you are going faster.
And ALWAYS take your time and take things slow. The easiest way to ruin a pattern is go faster than you are ready for. If you try the pattern a little faster and your run falls apart, you need to slow it back down.
Also, the best way to sour a new horse is to over-do the pattern. There are tons of things you can do to practice barrel racing fundamentals without actually doing the pattern with 3 barrels. Roll backs, figure 8's, perfect circles, spirals, and things like that.
She'll just be used for random playdays and she'll still get daily use as a pleasure horse.
Thank you all for the good advice.
Whats the best way to practice a roll back? I've heard of turning into a fence / rail to get them using their hind quarters. Is that a good way?
You know, it IS good to have a flying change on your horse. But, I don't always teach them, and I haven't had a problem. If I am loping the pattern, once I get around the first barrel and am straight and set up for second I break to a trot and do a quick simple change. My horses do a flying change on their own in a run.
So, IMO, it's not 100% necessary to have a flying change.
And also, I don't really think neck reining is necessary. My horses don't neck rein. Yes, they move off my legs very well, and will move off indirect rein pressure. But they won't ride around one handed 100%.
Just my opinion. :)
A simple lead change will work for uncompetitive runs, but a flying lead change is essential if you're going to be competitive. My barrel horse has auto changes in the pattern from practicing the simple changes so much, but he still has them and it makes a big difference.
But you're correct, You don't HAVE to neck rein, I personally prefer it though.
I said it was helpful, but in my experience not 100% necessary.
And coming from an english background, I ride 2 handed always (except in my runs around the barrel) so I don't care if my horse neck reins. You don't neck rein when you run the pattern, so is it really necessary? I use my legs mostly, and just guide my horse... and both mine run in a snaffle.
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