Keeping Your Barrel Horses Sound - The Horse Forum
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  • 3 Post By ClearDonkey
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post #1 of 8 Old 03-20-2020, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
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Keeping Your Barrel Horses Sound

Hi there! I would like to start it off by saying that I know that there was a thread of the same topic but it was written in 2012. I am writing another one because I am interested in other people's care plans for their barrel horses.
I'll start it off:
Tequila (7 yo Quarter mare) is out on pasture 24/7. She gets 14 pounds of Alfalfa in the morning and 7 pounds of Alfalfa in the afternoon. Along with 4 lbs of Omolene 200 with a beet pulp mash and a joint supplement. Also has a salt block. She gets ridden 3 times a week, one day a trail ride, one day for conditioning, and one day for either drills or a trail ride depending how she's feeling. She is ridden with Legacy2s and bell boots ALWAYS. Finally, she gets her legs hosed each time after riding for about 5 minutes and gets her legs wrapped aswell with cool pack green jelly once every other week.
Don Julio (13 yo Quarter Gelding) just got finished. He has the same plan as Tequila, except he gets trail rides twice a week and one day is for conditioning or drills and is ridden with polos and bell boots instead.
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post #2 of 8 Old 03-20-2020, 01:37 PM
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The most important part, I believe, to keeping a performance horse sound is making sure that you are safely bringing a horse into fitness, and not rushing the fast, hard work.

Leg protection will do nothing if the horse is not fit. A specialized feeding program will do nothing if the horse is not fit. Hosing legs will do nothing if the horse is not fit.

Just for example, my 21 year old gelding and my 6 year old mare have done nothing more than just walking and very light trotting since fall. Long, slow work is way more valuable than fast, short work. Injuries are few and far between when slow work is focused on while getting fit. Once I am able to ride them more than once a week, they will be going on long walking rides, with short trot intervals sprinkled in. Once their general fitness increases, the short trot intervals will be increased in duration. Eventually canter will be added. Only once they are walking/trotting/cantering with a certain fitness would I add jumping/tight turns/etc in. I want my horses sound for a long time, even if that means not competing/doing certain work.

While doing this long, slow work I also prioritize bringing them on a variety of terrain - I don't just ride them in soft arenas. I think its important to bring them on hard terrain, such as roads, to encourage their feet and legs to be a bit tougher. Before I did this, my gelding was very ouchy-pokey on anything other than grass and sand. Now, we can ride down gravel roads and be alright.

Toofine - 1998 Half Arabian
Minnie - 2013 Morgan
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post #3 of 8 Old 03-20-2020, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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I forgot to mention, I am in no way looking into using other people's methods on my horses. My horses are perfectly healthy and happy and have no interest in changing my horses' care routine. I am just wondering how other people keep their barrel/performance horses sound. 😊
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post #4 of 8 Old 03-21-2020, 01:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keira Cloudhawk View Post
I forgot to mention, I am in no way looking into using other people's methods on my horses. My horses are perfectly healthy and happy and have no interest in changing my horses' care routine. I am just wondering how other people keep their barrel/performance horses sound. 😊

Not looking to be combative ... but if you do not plan on changing anything you do with your horses, what is your goal with starting this thread? What are you looking to gain?

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post #5 of 8 Old 03-21-2020, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by beau159 View Post
Not looking to be combative ... but if you do not plan on changing anything you do with your horses, what is your goal with starting this thread? What are you looking to gain?
I guess all this CoronaVirus/Quarantine stuff has me bored and was just wondering how others keep their horses sound. (It kinds sounds 'fishy' but its not). Like I said above, in no way am I planning on changing anything to my horses' care plan. I am not trying to gain anything specific, I made this thread out of curiosity and boredom. 😕
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post #6 of 8 Old 03-22-2020, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keira Cloudhawk View Post
I guess all this CoronaVirus/Quarantine stuff has me bored and was just wondering how others keep their horses sound. (It kinds sounds 'fishy' but its not). Like I said above, in no way am I planning on changing anything to my horses' care plan. I am not trying to gain anything specific, I made this thread out of curiosity and boredom. 😕

Well "keeping your horse sound" and "care plan" are possibly two different things.



Any hard working barrel horse WILL develop soundness issues at some point in their career. Sometimes it can be remedied by simple time off. Sometimes, not. And sometimes, the owner/rider does not know how to recognize a soundness issues. To keep my barrel horses sound, one thing I am very adamant about is routine vet care. Even if I do not think my horse is having any problems, I always schedule a lameness evaluation with my lameness vet about a month or two into the season, just to make sure. Catching small problems before they become big ones is good prevention.



I also like having videos of our barrel runs. Not only to watch myself as rider, but to watch my horse. Often the first signs of a soundness problem is something different about their foot placement or way or moving; maybe even before they don't clock as well as they normally do (which can also be a sign).



Yes, as ClearDonkey stated, it is also important for your horse to have good fitness BEFORE you ask them to run on a barrel pattern. A lot of injuries occur b/c of lack of fitness.



Especially when I am getting my horses legged back up in the spring again, I try to ride 5 or 6 days a week. I do most of my riding on the trails (usually 4 miles or more) with one or two days or arena work (circles, reining, poles, drills, etc). Once they are in shape again after a month or two, and/or when we start running on the weekends again, then weekdays are usually okay with 2 or 3 rides, with a run on a weekend.



For me, 3 days of riding out of 7 days is not enough. JMO.


I like my horses turned out 24/7 so they are free to move and graze as they please, as nature intended. Since they have good natural forage, they don't need much for supplements. But I do give about 3/4 pound alfalfa pellets with 1 cup (8 oz) of Purina Outlast when I catch them and they will be tied at the trailer, so they have something in their tummies. Then hay in a slow feed bag in front of them while tied at the trailer (better to prevent ulcers). Then when done riding, they get another cup of Purina Outlast, along with 1 cup of Purina Ultium gastric care, so that I can mix in their 1 scoop of T.H.E. Muscle Mass supplement with joint support. I also like to have them on a joint supplement such as Adequan or Pentosan -- depending on their needs for the year and my pocketbook, haha.



I put sport boots on (with bell boots) only when I will be riding in the arena, and only on the front legs. They get bell boots when riding out on the trail.


They also get regular farrier work, chiro work, dental work, etc etc and everything they need for good overall health.



If it is not hot out, they get their BOT quick wraps on their legs while standing on the trailer before riding. After riding, they get hosed off and get CoolAid wraps on their front legs. I might consider SoftRide boots for shotgun this year, since I had planned on hitting the rodeo road with him, and that will be more miles in the trailer.



But the key thing on keeping them SOUND, is being very watchful throughout the season and keeping in close contact with my lameness vet, and managing the horse accordingly based on what the problem is. For example, Shotgun has never needed any injections yet but he came up a little sore in the stifles and hocks toward the end of the season. I chose to quit him for the year, rather than inject, since we only had a couple races left anyway. Had it been earlier in the year, then I would have injected. Red I am going to attempt to bring back to LIGHT barrel racing this year, but I will let him tell me how he is doing, since he has other soundness issues to begin with.

∞*˚ Βгįťţαňγ ˚*∞
It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.
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post #7 of 8 Old 03-22-2020, 07:32 PM
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Yeah, I don't do barrels, but I think that any performance horse needs conditioning far beyond 3 days a week. When my daughter is getting her horse ready for hunter/jumper season, she aims to ride at LEAST 5 days a week. She doesn't jump every day, and some of those rides are trails, but you definitely need more than 3 rides a week to have a healthy performance horse.

But you don't want to hear that since you have no intention of changing anything. Ok....
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post #8 of 8 Old 03-23-2020, 10:13 AM
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I forgot another piece of my daily ritual when getting back into real work - especially with my 21 year old gelding - after about 5 minutes of walking under-saddle, I will dismount and do a handful of stretches with his legs. One of his stifles began acting up last summer, so I particularly focus on his back legs, just to set him up for a successful riding season. It is important to me to stretch after a walking warm-up to make sure that his muscles are warm and safe to stretch. I usually repeat the stretches after his work-out, just to make sure he feels as good as possible.

As far as equipment goes, I only use front bells on my gelding while we are doing canter work, trails, and jumping, just because he overreaches and clips his heels occasionally. I have polo wraps, hard-shell jump boots, and SMB's in my arsenal, but at this point they aren't used that often. The polo wraps I used when he was particularly opinionated, and ran the risk of clipping his legs higher up than the front bells would cover. The hard-shell jump boots were for when we were competing, but we haven't been at the heights or intensity that would require them for a few years now. The SMB's I use when competing and schooling barrels, in addition to particularly long, strenuous trail rides.
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Minnie - 2013 Morgan
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