Originally Posted by therhondamarie View Post
So I started walking/trotting the pattern with my mare. I have mostly gone to the right barrel first, except one finished barrel horse that I rode that did not belong to me who went to the left first. Yesterday when I went through the pattern a few times I did each direction. Honestly, PopTart seems like she would work well in either direction. I just wondered how others decided which way to go with their horses. Opinions?
If the horse seems to turn equally well in both direction, then I teach them the "normal" way (going to the right barrel first). There are barrel racers out there that are not comfortable running a horse to the left first, so for resale value of said horse (even if you have no plans to ever sell), then I choose to start them to the right. Plus it's just so much easier for exhibitions, clinics, etc because the vast majority of horses do go to the right barrel first.
But some horses, it might not be apparent for a while or even directly apparant with barrels. My Shotgun for example, I started him to the left barrel first when he was 3-4 years old as he seemed to do a little better with his right turns. He got most of his 4 yo year off as well as his 5 yo year, and then I took him to two clinics when he was 6. Both clinicians said he turned fine either way, so I switched him to the right barrel first and he didn't seem to care. Then in the middle of last year (age 7) I was taking an English lesson with my instructor and we both figured out that he tended to lean his shoulder more when going to the left, and didn't do that when going to the right. So based on that, I switched his barrels back to the left barrel first and this year he became a consistent 1D barrel horse.
So it's often not an "easy" decision, nor timely one, to figure out which way to go!! But that's how I turned Shotgun back into a lefty.
Both Red and Dexter are very obviously better on their left turns, so they were both an easy decision to take the normal way through the pattern.
My old horse Beau was also a lefty. He turned better to the right, so that's the way I took him from day one. Although I do remember one clinic I went to, the clinician made me go to the right barrel first because she wouldn't accommodate her drills for a lefty horse...... not a fan......