The downsides to running barrels. - Page 2

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The downsides to running barrels.

This is a discussion on The downsides to running barrels. within the Western Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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        01-29-2010, 10:28 AM
    I have ran barrels for years. And I run my horses in a D-bit, no tie down or spurs. And I am consistently 2-D. I have never had a lame horse. But they are fitted to it. And I agree.... when I do slow work starting the pattern on a horse... Ill do it 3 days a week. And trail rdie the rest. Once I start asking speed... the horses knows the pattern well enough that I don't need to work it but a couple times a month. And you can practice your turns and such on trails... pretend a tree is a barrel. That way your horse is still working the muscles needed.... but its not going to blow him over and make him a nut job because its not everyday on the barrels run, run, run. I also work cattle on my barrel horse and compete in many jackpots in Fl... and have won. So the more you do with him.... the more sound his mind will stay. My barrel horse gets ran at shows... that's it... I will do figure 8s and such at home... but I don't need to run the barrels. As he has a good, calm, solid foundation.
    But if your horse doesnt and they are not fitted you can lame a horse for life. And if all you do is run run run... your going to end up with a nut.
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        01-29-2010, 05:20 PM
    Green Broke
    MacabreMikolaj- Thank you so much for your insight, that is exactly how I was feeling. I just like to know what I'm getting into.

    Thank you everyone for the great advice, I plan on keeping all of it in mind during our training.

    I definitely don't want to "fly by the seat of my pants and hope I win". For me it's not about winning it's about finding a skill and a passion and doing the best I can. I am very very interested in reigning though, which is good because that passes over into barrels! :-D

    Thank you my HF Friends, gives me a bit more insight.
        01-30-2010, 09:44 AM
    Originally Posted by kevinshorses    
    You also need to keep your horse the hell away from a barrel pattern except MAYBE one time per week. If I were to train a barrel horse I would do everything I could think off that was not in an arena.
    I've had a couple horses that could work on the pattern a couple times a week. Granted, they werent run on it, but they were able to go through and apply the fundamentals without me worrying if they could handle the pressure. I wouldnt RUN a horse on the pattern more than once every week or two. But simple fundamental work wont sour a horse on the pattern.

    Now, on the other hand, I've had a horse who wasnt shown the pattern...even at a walk, but maybe once every few weeks.

    It's about knowing the individual horse. There is no secret recipe that will be sure fire, bullet proof for every horse. The trick to being successful in this is to KNOW the horse your riding. Know their limits and how far you can push them without them getting fed up.

    I had one horse, used to be my main competition horse, who I gave lessons on. He could go through that pattern over, and over, and over again. Never made a peep. Never refused. He had the mind set to be able to handle pressure. Then, after the novice finished her lesson, I could hop on and bring him through without him dropping, dipping, bowing, or tensing. But that was JUST him.

    The horse I have now will always turn right around to head back into the arena. Always willing and ready to listen. BUT he still isnt ridden on the pattern often. MAYBE once every few weeks to a month. His problem is that, while he can mentally handle the stress of the pattern, he gets to where he wants to cut corners and cheat me if he rides it often. So schooling the pattern for him is, bring him through...if he does it right... do something else. No repetition on him with the pattern.

    Anyway, my point is, its ok to test your horse to see what he can handle... but don't push him passed that limit. Just gotta learn your horse.
        01-30-2010, 10:08 AM

    I did barrel racing for bout 2 years. I couldn't stand the attitude of the girls in it. They were all so stuck up and then they would go and call themselves cowgirls. I usually spent most of my time with the bull riders. I had a 17 year old horse that I ran barrels with and she was never lame in those 2 years. She loved to run and I used a gentle bit, no tie down, no spurs, nothing except my legs. I won alot becasue she loved to run but when we weren't competing, we only run the pattern like twice a month. We trail rode and worked on some other stuff the other time. She was kept on a joint supplement and a nice high quality feed.

    So if you do it right and put your horse before yourself and winning, everythings going to be fine. Its when winning comes before everything else that the horses are lame and still running the barrels. It sickens me and I actually got into a fight with a girl cause I confronted her about her horse that was lame, she ran him and he did major damage to his leg coming around a barrel and then she had the nerve to say,"'He must have been weak. Guess he wasn't meant for winning.'" She's lucky I didn't knock her stuck up little self on the ground. You seem to actually care about your horse and know how to take care of him and his well-being.

    I'm not saying all barrel racers are like that but there's alot out there like that. More people like you in the industry will hopefully help to change the way people look at barrel racing. Hope this helped! =)
        01-30-2010, 10:18 AM
    The disadvantages for the rider

    -bruises from bumping into the barrel(always wear shin guards!!)
    -arthritists in the knees

    For the horse

    -essesive(spelling?) spurring from the rider
    -navicular disease
    -cannon bone injuries
    -a bad attitude from running the barrels to often.

    Barrel racing is really fun! But make sure you take care of your horse!(always do cold therapy!)
        01-30-2010, 12:57 PM
    Green Broke
    Thank you folks for your opinions and information! Very very helpful indeed.
        01-30-2010, 01:37 PM
    Barrel racing is different where I'm from - don't get me wrong, there's a lot of incompetent riders - but they're very nice people and very friendly. The guy I'm learning from has instructed a lot of youth riders and he knows how important it is that a horse remains sane.

    As far as staying away from a pattern - what hell is that going to do? Nothing. You need to walk and trot and lope that pattern a lot so you know where your horse needs to go to find his pocket. Not only does the slow work make them chill out and think, it also lets them know that just because there's a barrel, doesn't mean we're going to run around it.

    As for running the pattern? Rarely. Running the pattern needs to be saved for shows, and to figure out where your horse needs work on the pattern, which inevitably leads to slow work.

    Don't get me wrong - don't only do the pattern when you're working. Do the arena work, move the shoulders over, move the hips over, side pass, leg yield, etc. Because the more control you have, the better of a run you'll have. But SLOW pattern work is an essential part of your training regime.

    Slow work gave me the insight that even if I work Cowboy in the perfect pocket at a walk and trot, he tends to hug closer at a lope and faster - so when we're doing slow work, we go waaaay far out there, which lets him hit his pocket where he needs to.

    Do some poles too! Poles are fun and challenging. You really have to focus, or your face and elbows will be to suffer for it. They'll also help those flailing arms you were talking about ;D I know I suck my elbows in as tight as possible now.

    I know Martha Josey does lots of slow work, and most of the videos you find will give you good ideas for your training.
        01-30-2010, 01:52 PM
    Martha josey is one of the few barrel racers that might fall in the category of horseman. It would pay to watch her videos or attend a clinic.

    You don't need a barrel to teach your horse to pick up it's shoulder or move away from your leg and unless your horse has oatmeal for brains it will know the pattern after about the 5th time though it. Many of the problems barrel racers try so hard to fix come from too much pattern work. The same can also be said for reiners or ropers or jumpers. Too much repetition dulls the edge you want to build on your horse.
        01-30-2010, 02:33 PM
    Green Broke
    Agreed with kevinshorses. Overdrilling a horse in any competition can cause an otherwise flawlessly responsive horse to stop listening to certain aids. It follows the age old adage of training something out of horse being 10x harder then actually training the horse. If your horse is learning to anticipate the pattern to much, he's not thinking about patterns and pockets, he's thinking about getting around those barrels as lickity split fast as he can. I believe this is the number one cause for dropped shoulders and resistant turns, and it can be DARN hard to train this out of a barrel racer once he gets it into his head he's faster that way.

    You can teach a horse pockets and turns without actually doing a pattern, and you keep him sharper. I like to think of it as schooling multiple elements, and then just putting them together for your run. It keeps your horse on his toes and listening to you better when he doesn't know something "by heart". If the foundation is there, and your horse is feather light responsive, adding a pattern to your ride should be fluid even without practice.
        01-30-2010, 05:07 PM
    I hate barrel racing/games in general. The horses just can't go any faster and to actually win you have to know how to ride. Last thing people think games are the only western sport there not!

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