Originally Posted by girl_on_black_pony
So i'm getting a summer project and I hope to qualify for a rodeo at the end of this summer. The horse I'm getting is real athletic with lots of spunk so he's be good at barrels. However, he has never done them. What can I do to prepare him before I introduce barrels and patterns?
I'm assuming leads (how do I teach that?)? And of course flexing, which is in my training program already. Also softness of the mouth?
How would I introduce them? At a walk, trot, canter, then run him? I think for my training I'll canter in wide circles before the barrel to assure leads, and only flat out run the pattern once in a while. I've heard of ppl doing that and it sounds reasonable.
I've seen riders "lean" in towards the barrel, but wouldn't that throw the horse off-balance? Ha sorry for all the Qs, I've barreled before but I want to learn the right way to do it and of course the fastest... and safest.
Getting a greenie running the pattern soundly, both mentally and physically, by the end of the summer is a pretty unrealistic goal. Especially a horse that lacks the basics.
A "spunky" horse doesnt mean "barrel horse". It means fragile mind and take it slow.
Before teaching leads, I would start on shoulder control. Get the horse used to picking his shoulder up...so that when you do start loping circles, he doesnt get into the habit of being heavy on the forehand and dropping his shoulder.
Cue your horse for the lead departure (after you establish a really good sense of shoulder control) If the horse doesnt pick up the correct lead immediately, stop, back, and start over. Be patient. When the horse picks up the correct lead, let them lope around a bit and relax.
(Do not let the horse's shoulder drop in front of his hip. Move the shoulder over with your inside leg, add outside leg further back to move the hip in, then ask for the departure)
To soften the horse's mouth? Your going to need soft hands your self. Start from the ground and work your way up.
From the sounds of it, your pretty green yourself. I suggest finding a trainer to take weekly lessons with you.
I'm not even going to approach how to introduce a horse to the pattern...since the horse is obviously not ready and won't be ready to see a pattern for some time.