How do you make those tight turns around the barrels without nocking them over? I'm always afraid I will hit them and I've just started training my horse in barrel racing so she's doesn't really go around them very fast. She doesn't neck rein so I have to ride with two hands.
If you have some advice about poll bending too that'd be great! Thanks!
I can't help with pole bending, but the way you get tight turns when running is to run the barrel pattern the same way each time at the walk. Be in the place you would want to be at the run at the walk. I like to stop my horse where he would start rating and put his feet where I want to be.
Figure out where you want to be, and then put him there and ride the same each time. I find that the precision in the turns comes with practice.
Can you lift and move his shoulders?
BuckOff is much better at explaining this part of it than I am :P
Lots of slowwww repition. I walked the pattern for weeks with my guy before we started trotting the pattern. Now, while that may seem boring when we started trotting he knew exactly where he needed to be around the barrel. My coach who I work with also told me to trot up to the barrel - halt where you want him to start rating (like Spastic said) - back up a few steps (this gets him to engage his hindquarters) - then trot off around the barrel. Repeat for each barrel. It'll teach him to not expect to just go rushing around the turn. :)
Actually you usually form the pocket around the front side of the barrel as if you form it on the backside you have a greater chance of losing control of your horse's outside shoulder and flying over the timeline. As Spastic said, pockets are not necessary and it really depends on your horse's style. My horse personally does better with pockets as if I allow her to move out on the backside of the barrel she will drop that outside shoulder in a desperate bid to get back to her buddies.
Flyinghigh, if you are looking to make a competitve horse it is best to make sure you have a solid foundation first. Make sure you can move your horse all over the place off leg pressure and rein cues. Be able to pick up shoulders and move hips; I like to make sure they know side passing before I really start working on the pattern as that way you can really get them moving off your leg. Start slow and get your accuracy and routes around the barrels down. Once you have all your mechanics figured out then you can start adding in speed. If you want some good starting points pick up some of the Charmayne James books; they are very well laid out and very informative. Good luck to you!
Sorry for the double post but due to some ridiculously slow internet I wasn't able to add this into my post.
Also, if you make your pocket on the backside of the barrel you aren't setting yourself up for your second barrel at all, which is one of the purposes of using pockets. I also have never seen any runners form a pocket that way.
Some more advice- watch some people that you respect and see how they manuever a pattern. This helped me greatly, I was able to see what didn't work and what did work and able to mimic it.
I start training just as everyone else has stated, slow walk around the barrels. I use weight more than rein tho. When im riding and I want to turn (not around a barrel but in general) I sit down and and lean a little in the oppisite direction and look to where I want to go... My horse took awhile to start making those tight turns but she does awesome now. A technique I learned from some rodeos are 1. Run along side a fence (not too close) and turn into it, it will help the horse learn to turn on a dime and tuck its back legs and 2. Run at a fence and about 30 feet before lean back and stop. The closer you can come to the fence the better. It will help your horse learn to tuck its back legs and stop faster. I also practice with just one barrel before I start training on the pattern. I just do left and right turns. I could go on and on about this but I think I have wrote quite a bit already, but if you have any questions I would be more than willing to answer them.