How would YOU train a horse for barrels? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-13-2008, 11:38 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: White Mountains, AZ
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How would YOU train a horse for barrels?

Blu was one of the easiest horses to work barrels on when it came to the pattern and speed. Not so much as the speed adjustment and footing stuff. All I do to train a horse for barrels is:

Figure out which side of the brain the horse uses. If he has better balance or something on the right lead - he's left-brained. Blu has more balance on the left lead. Therefore, he is right-brained and its easier for him to start on the left side. I personally am not comfortable going to the left barrel first and I know its up to me to work on Blu with the right, but I will go to the left if its easier on him. Anyways, I start with walking the barrels a few times to help the horse get the pattern. Then I work at the trot for the most time. Then at the lope. And gradually as the horse learns what he's supposed to do, speed will increase. Tada!

Thank you, thank you. Hold the appalause. lol. just kidding.

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post #2 of 7 Old 04-14-2008, 12:51 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
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LOL...Ta da! The only barrels I'm currently teaching my horses is to stay OUT of the garbage!!!! :roll: We have Rubbermaid trash cans and they like to knock them over and give 'em a kick or two...Guess that's one of the down sides of letting your horses "mow the grass" for ya.

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

1 Chronicles 28:20

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post #3 of 7 Old 04-15-2008, 02:12 PM
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It depends on the horse, but the basic idea is the same. Thankfully, my horse runs to the right barrel so I didn't have to remember that in a run =P

I work on loads of conditioning, spending as least amount of time on the pattern as possible at first. I do alot of trotting. Up and down hills, extending and collecting. I work alot on suppleness and on making sure he has all the solids down. I do reining patterns, etc. Then I get to the pattern. I'll walk him through it. Teach him where to set. So example, walk up to the barrel, have him stop where I would want him to set during a run, have him stand for a few seconds, then go to the next barrel and repeat. I only work at a walk until he has that down. Sometimes I wont ask him to set though -- Just to make sure he's listening. Or I'll only ask him to set at the second barrel (Diesel has the hardest time with that one). Then I will repeat with a trot, then a lope. Taking my time with each one. (This all isnt done in one day obviously).

While doing this, even at a walk, I make sure to ride the exact same way I would at a gallop. I sit how I would, keep my eyes where they should be and give all the same aides. Repetition.

After awhile, speed will come easy. Especially if you trot alot. If he learns to comfortably extend his stride between barrels, then go around them comfortably you will shave seconds off your time. But make sure not to only run barrels. And dont actually RUN them at home too often either. Barrel horses are known for getting sour on the pattern or for getting hot-headed. And making sure he stays sound-minded and interested by doing other things is a great way to have a healthy barrel horse.
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-18-2008, 11:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Owasso,OK
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learnin to run barrels as well

I do alot of long trottin to the Barrel, then short trotting around it, i also like to turn the 3rd barrel and instead of heading to the alley way i turn toward the side fence and stop him and back up a couple of steps then let him walk the fence back dont so i can make a circle to the right to repeat the pattern....also everytime i stop i make him back up a few steps...Jet is a retired race horse and doesnt like to stop tooo quick but i have found that after i started stopping and making him back up a couple of steps, he tends to sit down more when he stops and has started improving on stopping sooner...i am havin a little difficulty pushin him around the barrel
instead of his butt follwing him around he swings it around and drops his shoulder into the barrel....but only on the left barrel
anybody have any suggestions on getting him to tuck his butt and run around the barrel instead of sling it around?????
his right turns are perfect

Carrie D Stover
Rowdy by nature....Cowgirl by heart
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-18-2008, 11:46 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Missoula, MT
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Read my post above you. To get a horse to tuck his butt under and turn, start stopping him where you would want him to do that near the barrel. You could back up a few paces if you like so that you stay consistant with your training.

So say you lope up to the barrel, then right where you would want to get him to set down, stop him, back him a few paces, hesitate a moment so his focus is on you, then continue to lope the pattern.

Thats always seemed to work with my horses.

Also check out Charmayne James;s book. It has some good tips in it and is very easy to read
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post #6 of 7 Old 04-22-2008, 06:09 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: La Junta, CO
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I really like the Lynn McKenzie way of trianing. Her thought is based on science and it makes a lot of sense (or it does to me anyway). Longer,'s easier for the horse to cross over his hind legs then to stop and turn. Just my opinion :)
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-25-2008, 12:32 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
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thanks Spastic_dove..ill try that!!

Carrie D Stover
Rowdy by nature....Cowgirl by heart
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