11-27-2009, 08:42 PM
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My best tip is to not even look at a pattern or take your horse near a barrel until he is flawless at his stopping manners, leg aids, rider aids, weight shifting and getting his rear under him.
When you can get him to stop, go, turn, and back without having to use your legs or hands, only your seat, you are ready for success as a barrel racer.
Then verrrry rarely run a cloverleaf, place the barrels in any pattern you would like anywhere in the arena to teach him to listen to you and not just run the pattern.
IMO rating is the single most important concept when training a barrel racer (the better the rate you have the better your pocket will be, the less likely you will be to knock over a barrel and you will have a better setup for the next barrel). The second is teaching the horse to remain calm and focused throughout the entire pattern.
When you start working working with the barrels begin at the walk( tsart from anywhere in the arena but the starting gate, this helps prevent starting gate nervesand anxiety when it is time for him to compete) and when you get about 17 feet or so feet from the barrel stop riding and he should stop, this is the beginning of teaching him to rate properly.
When he learns to focus on you and stop when you stop riding at the walk move up to the trot, same thing, 17 or so feet from the barrel stop riding and he should slow down and stop. You can so this with only one barrel in the arena or 10 barrels it doesn't matter, though I would advise not teaching the clover leaf until he has each individual step to the run down pat, then I would only run it a time or two each training session to keep him from anticipating it and becoming bored.
Another tip is to use the same technique for the end of the run as you did when teaching him to rate, when you get about 20 or so feet from the gate (at the walk mind you) stop riding and he should stop. Teach this at all speeds so he doesnt learn to keep running until a physical barrier stops him, it will keep you from having to haul on the reins to get him to stop.
Also teach him that the alley is his safe place. Groom him there, just let him relax anytime you have him there during training whether just being led or under saddle. Teach yourself to relax when you are entering and leaving the alley and this in effect will allow your horse to remain relaxed.
So many girls I know teach their horses that when they get inthat alley they are going to have to run. The horses become overly excited and turn into a big panicky mess eventually and become dangerous to themselves and anyone around them. This is where you can really outshine the competition, a freaked out horse has a much more difficult time listeneing to the rider than one that has been taught to remain calm in the alley.
And remember to listen to your horse, he will let you know what areas need more work and what he is unsure about.
Oh yeah and one last thing, NEVER sacrifice precision for speed or you will end up with a fast sloppy mess. Speed is the last thing you want when training a barrel racer, training should be slow and controlled, with speed added only after each and every concept has been mastered.