Tips for starting a horse on barrels?
I'm seriously thinking about doing barrels with my mare in the future. There's not much other competitions in the area she can compete in except timed events, and I'm not much into roping right now. So I want to start her on barrels and poles.
I do have a trainer (my BO) helping me out some so I'm not totally going at this alone. But I'd love to practice barrels by myself when I get the chance.
I have done barrels with her before, but mostly for fun. I want to learn how to really do it correctly so I can get the best time and make it easy and enjoyable for her. Any info on what to do with my seat, hands, when to make the turns (important in my case, I don't judge turns well), etc would be more then appreciated. I'm going to do it at the walk about a hundred or more times before I even think of 'racking' or cantering them.
One more question. Should I pattern her? My BO says you should never pattern a horse because you want them to not expect anything and always look to the rider on what to do. Although this makes sense, I've heard a lot of pros saying it's good to pattern a horse so it really knows its job.
In my opinion its a horse by horse basis on how to train them... ya I feel its okay to pattern a horse. It makes your time faster when your horse knows what to expect and it makes it easier on you and your horse because he/she can anticipate your commands.
Then again you want to have some variety. Don't just do straight barrel patterns all the time. Try doing all kinds of differant activities with the barrels. Too much I see these girls with their crazy horses because all they do is run barrels in the arena so heir horses come to expect that they are gonna have to run as soon as they are in there. You need to make sure your horse is well rounded and disciplined.
Is your horse trained to neck rein? That's one of the most iortant things in my opinion. A soft mouth and neck reining make it easier on the turn, shaving seconds off your time. Keep your hands low on her neck and keep just a little slack in the reins so she has free movement in her head and neck to bend around the barrels.
There's this spot around the barrel called the "pocket" that you'll learn to recognize once you and your mare get more comfortable at it. Little tip. Go at an amgle and make sure her shoulder is past and then begin the turn. You will end up closer around the barrel and get a faster time.
With your seat, sit slightly forward when you are running. When you start the turn really sit on your pockets and put your weight in the stirrup closest to the barrel. Don't be shy to grab the saddle horn to help keep you centered in the saddle. It will also help to pull you back up off their back over their withers so they can have a faster, easier takeoff aournd the barrels and on the straight aways.
I find that stretching my horse out both on the ground and in the saddle beforehand helps keep them limbered and ready for the race.
Sorry if I'm rambling I just love barel racing and want people to train their horses right so they can do more than race their horse. If you have questions or want to rag on me gust send me a message
You actually don't want to neck rein a horse around barrels. Should be direct reining. You need a horse soft and responsive to direct rein, indirect rein, and legs, with good bend and flex, and good lateral movement, very good whoa, soft, respectful...
Yes, do shake it up to keep your horse fresh. Patterning is good if you want to place high, but not excessively, but you may get second-guessing which you then have to correct.
If you've got the time and money to haul to a professional clinic, that may not be a bad idea. Or at least buy some videos--they'll actually help. There's far more info than can be typed out in a web forum.
Loads of slow work and switch it up. Do patterns where you can work on similar aspects but not the actual pattern. Also I agree 100% with bubba more direct/indirect rein and get to where you can work both shoulders hips and rib cage all seperately. A trainer helps looooads with this :] Good luck
Maybe I'm biased on the neck reining ... but I agree with them if you can find a good trainer do...there are sooo many ways you could be training your horse wrong. Or maybe not different horses react different ways
Thanks for the suggestions guys. I definitely plan on training in neck reining and direct reining and kinda see what works for us. I haven't taken lessons in a long time, maybe this can be my excuse for starting them back up again.
Since most of what I was going to say has been covered and I don't have time to type a long post right now (In school) I'll tell you my one, golden rule:
Make all circles perfect.
Especially on your slow work. Everything slow carries over to fast. When you are just doing some slow stuff make everything perfect. Don't worry about being tight and fast right away. Walk the barrel pattern, keeping the barrel behind your leg and to your horses hip when you ar doing so. Shoulder up, inside leg up under him. Position saves your life, and if you let your circles and position fall when you are going slow, you are going to cause fatal error in your runs.
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