wanting to do barrels and poles..

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wanting to do barrels and poles..

This is a discussion on wanting to do barrels and poles.. within the Western Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Doing barrels and poles for fun
  • My horse gets too close to barrels

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    02-17-2009, 11:18 PM
wanting to do barrels and poles..

I've rode both english and western but always favored the english side. Now I'm getting bored with it and wanting to do barrels and poles. Any advice?
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    02-18-2009, 07:28 AM
Find a trainer. Barrels and pole looks like fun, and while it is, its just as complicated a science as dressage or equitation over fences. Position, training,control, and seat are everything.
    02-18-2009, 03:46 PM
I plan on getting a trainer so. I iknow its going to be complicated but its something I want to do. Thanks for you're input =]
    02-18-2009, 04:31 PM
is lake ariel to far away for you
    02-18-2009, 04:32 PM
Its about a 40 mins drive why?
    02-18-2009, 04:34 PM
cus I know a barn that could help
or a trainer
    02-24-2009, 05:15 PM
Although getting a trainer is good advice, don't forget to have fun with it! That's the whole reason your switching right?
    02-24-2009, 05:32 PM
Do basic suppling exercises before you even put them on the pattern. The horse should be able to move sideways and back, move his shoulders and hindend when you cue for it, lengthen and shorten his stride, and do lead changes.

Most of your barrel work should be done at the walk or trot. I don't actually RUN the pattern too often because it develops a hot-headed sour horse.

Definitely work with a trainer, but make sure you have these things done first.

Here is how I start a horse on the pattern once he can do these things:

Walk the horse up to where I would begin to rate. (Everytime I ride, I ride the EXACT same, so as I am walking, my hand is forward, I am up slightly out of the saddle, etc) Once I get to where I would want him to rate, I say "WHOA" quite loudly then sit down into the saddle and have him stop. It may help to have some cones set up by the barrel to make sure your ate him at the same time and don't put yourself too close to the barrel. On my horse, I am usually about three or four feet away from the barrel and slightly before it. My horse's shoulder is angled away from the barrel. This is my horse though, your horse may be differant.

Once he is standing quietly, I get back into position and ask for a forward walk. When I am starting a horse on the pattern, I use two hands. As I am going around the barrel, I pick up my inside rain so he tips his nose slightly toward the barrel. I use my leg to make sure his entire body is turning, not just his face. I keep him turning until he finishes his turn. I don't want him to start running towards the next barrel until he is done his turn. I then go towards the next barrel and do the same thing and complete my pattern.

Sometimes, I won't ask for him to stop completely. Instead, I will sit down and usually my horse will anticipate the stop and start to bring his hind end under him. When he does this, I cluck him forward. I want him to dig in there so he can really turn around that barrel.

Once they are solid in their turns, I will have them trot in between the barrels. You want to run the exact pattern everytime. If you are going to be five feet away from the barrel at a gallop, be five feet away at a walk.

This is just some of the basics. Sorry if it doesnt all make sense, I have a hard time putting it into words. Charmayne James has a great book out with diagrams and info on how to start a horse on the barrel, the ideal barrel run, and how you should have your body to help your horse the most (Don't drop your shoulder or so will your horse, look where you want to go, etc)
    02-24-2009, 05:34 PM
I can never wrap my head around the fact that barrels and poles are strictly western disciplines over there... It seems so crazy to me! I can't imagine running poles on my little arab in a weastern saddle. On him, I crouch over his neck and squeeze in as tight as I can, because he goes with a hair breadth of the poles! I couldn't do that in a western saddle.

Now, I NEVER had a trainer and I don't think you could even find a trainer who specializes in gaming in my city. Mostly, it's practise practise practise! Also, don't try to go fast until you have the patterns absolutely perfect.

You should make sure your horse can collect and extend, move off your leg at a walk/trot/canter, have good turning aids (body follows his nose/no shoulder popping out/bum swinging out). You should also be able to move his shoulder and his bum seperately, even just from a halt. Should have good canter leads established, and flying changes will help a lot, but most horse once they have the pattern down will put in their own changes.

The biggest thing to master in gaming is your pockets... On all turns the theory is to come into the turn wide and come out tight. This puts you ona direct line for your next obstacle, wether it be the next barrel or the line of poles on the way home. It takes much less time than if you go into your turn tight and your horse balloons out exiting the turn. It slwos them down, throws off your line.

Never let your horse get fizzy on the start line, that's a big thing! Always work on calm calm calm. I like to do a lot of turns... I will walk into my turn wide, stop about halfway around, leg yeild him away from the barrel/pole a few steps, then come in tight and continue the track out of the turn. This excercize helps a lot with horse who tend to drop their shoulder in on the barrel/pole. Once they get it down pat I will do it at a trot.

Also, don't limit yourself! There are tons of different games out there that will sharpen your horse turning, get him listening to you, and prevenmt him from getting stuck in one pattern or bored. Look up games such as clover leaf or running tee for good poles practise, You can use straight barrels or the stockhorse race for barrels practise. There are also many unrelated games that nonetheless are great for turning, sharpening of aids and boredom. Soem great ones are bonfields bounce (poles and jumping), Scudahoe (poles, barrels and jumping), Flagging, and many more. Flagging is a huge one here in Aus, almost bigger than barrels.

Let me know if you want any more info on anything i've said!

Most of all, just have fun! Don't get mad at your horse if ti takes him a while. It took me about 3 years on my arab, and now he has been our zone champion gamer 5 years in a row. You'll get there!
    02-24-2009, 05:38 PM
I actually don't like pockets. They worked fine on my arab, but I do better with my quarter horse if I run the same distance around the barrel. He likes to drop his shoulder and we just seem to get better times without pockets. Go figure. His turns are much tighter and cleaner and he keeps himself bent better.

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