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I don't barrel race but I am sure not every barrel racer has an arena to barrel race in, I was just curious as to if you barrel race but you only can do it (practice) in a grass field lets say, is that too hard on their feet? And does anyone do this? Just curious by the way :D
 

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Grass in-between the barrels? Fine. You don't do much but run straightaway between the barrels anyway. The Pendleton rodeo run their barrels on a football field, so that the straightaway part is grass.


But around the turns? You NEED dirt of some kind. I do not find it safe nor smart for those who lope or run the barrels on all grass. You are just asking for your horse to slip and fall. (The Pendleton rodeo knows that. The barrels are set on the dirt track.) Your horse has zero traction on grass, when you expect them to make a sharp turn at high speeds.

If you only have grass at home to practice and can't dig it up, stick to walking and trotting only at home, and haul to a real arena to do any speeds faster than that.
 

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Personally, I lope mine on grass. If I'm asking for speed, it'll be on a kept arena. A lope, to me, is not high speeds. If I do circle work on grass, I don't see much of a difference between loping a barrel pattern. I'm not asking them to really SIT around a barrel at a lope, nor at a trot. The horses I ride know that if we're on grass, I'm just asking for a correct pattern. When I take them into an arena, they know I want a correct pattern with speed and to get tucked under themselves around the barrels.
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Obviously, this is a case of "to each his own", but I guess this I why I (personally) won't even slow lope the pattern on grass.

In this picture, I was slow loping with my horse. And still look at how much he has to "dig in" to get his footing. Plus, he wasn't even using his hind end properly in the turn because he didn't switch his lead in back. And he still was digging. You just can't get good grip on a surface that is hard, and full of slick blades of grass.



This picture is a freeze frame from 0:26 on this video. (just to prove it was a SLOW lope).


Also was slow loping in this freeze frame video:


Video to go with it to prove the slow lope:

Anyway, that's just me. It is just too risky, in my opinion, to slow lope around a barrel on grass. I spend enough money on my horses in vet bills - I don't need any other injuries that I could have prevented.

Lope at your own risk!
 

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Where I keep my horse at we have an indoor arena that works great in the winter and rain, but there is just something about riding outside, and my horse prefers it too. Unfortunately, there's no arena outside. There is however, a flat area that us riders have made into an "arena". It isn't fenced but large enough to run a barrel/pole pattern and doesn't become as dusty as the indoor arena. I personally would never run my horse on grass if I knew he would have to turn. I would recommend, if you don't have an arena, do what I do and just do slow work until the grass dies. I have done so much slow work and circles that the grass is gone where my barrel pattern, pole pattern, and circle area is set up. Still, even though there's no grass, I still try not to run my horse hard on the ground because the dirt isn't being worked and is a bit too hard for my liking. I like to give my horse something to grab onto in the turns. Perfect practice makes perfect, and if my horse is going to try I like to give him the benefit of the doubt and give him the best terrain to work with. I do understand how frustrating it is not having a suitable place to run them:(
 
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