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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?
 

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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......
 

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Please allow a question...:bowwdown:

If the majority of horses run the pattern to the right and your horse runs left...
What happens to the arena footing and ruts the horse now must deal with?
Wouldn't it be harder on the legs of the animal and balance point of the animal to fight the "against the pattern" turns?

What I imagine is your lefty horse will be digging in where everyone else has dumped, now exiting and fight to run a new groove...:confused_color:
Won't that cost you time, seconds along with added stress & strain to the legs...

I guess if my horse was equally balanced and strong I would run with the crowd not opposite and against fighting the arena dirt and grooving that happens.
No??
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Please allow a question...:bowwdown:

If the majority of horses run the pattern to the right and your horse runs left...
What happens to the arena footing and ruts the horse now must deal with?
Wouldn't it be harder on the legs of the animal and balance point of the animal to fight the "against the pattern" turns?

What I imagine is your lefty horse will be digging in where everyone else has dumped, now exiting and fight to run a new groove...:confused_color:
Won't that cost you time, seconds along with added stress & strain to the legs...

I guess if my horse was equally balanced and strong I would run with the crowd not opposite and against fighting the arena dirt and grooving that happens.
No??
:runninghorse2:...
I never thought of it like that. I guess I've been fortunate enough to run at places that drag pretty frequently so unless you are that number 7 draw and they're dragging after every 7 it wouldn't matter too much.

I do think I'll go to the right first with her just because it's what I am used to. Our other mare is definitely better with right turns, so she will be hitting up the left barrel first. I suppose it will be good for me to have these challenges as it will make me be a better rider and develop my skills more.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
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......
Interesting that someone wouldn't accommodate for a lefty! That seems pretty limiting. It is nice to know that we could change throughout her career as well. I used to think I was "stuck" so I'm glad to hear you say that even if it seems okay one way that changing is always an option! We shall see how it goes as we add speed.
 

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If your horse does not have a direction that she does the best with, then it is really up to you. Whichever direction if most comfortable for you to start with then picking that direction would be a better choice. Easier for you then easier for your horse.
 

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Please allow a question...:bowwdown:

If the majority of horses run the pattern to the right and your horse runs left...
What happens to the arena footing and ruts the horse now must deal with?
Wouldn't it be harder on the legs of the animal and balance point of the animal to fight the "against the pattern" turns?

What I imagine is your lefty horse will be digging in where everyone else has dumped, now exiting and fight to run a new groove...:confused_color:
Won't that cost you time, seconds along with added stress & strain to the legs...

I guess if my horse was equally balanced and strong I would run with the crowd not opposite and against fighting the arena dirt and grooving that happens.
No??...

It's a consideration, for sure. However, sometimes you can actually AVOID the ruts (to some degree) by running the other way. But yes, at times, you'll have to cross ruts.



I actually love it when I get to the 3rd barrel on my lefty, because it usually pretty "clean" to get into the turn (no ruts) and then he just follows the ruts out. First and second barrel didn't seem to bother him any, and we ran in some pretty deep ground this summer.



Of course, it's going to depend where you run (jackpots vs rodeos) but most places have some sort of drag schedule (every 5, 7, 10, etc) which is helpful no matter which way you run.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I once rode at this place that did not drag until after the class. So they would drag after T/Os, then after PeeWee, then after Youth, etc. It was awful if you got a draw towards the end.
 
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