10 Steps to Better Your Barrel-Horse Training
- Use the cone method. Place three cones around each barrel to pinpoint your approach, rate and turn for each barrel.
- Create a pocket for your horse.
- Learn to rate.
- Be in the driver’s seat.
- Hone in the speed.
- Finish the turn.
- Cue the horse.
- Head to second.
How long does it take to train a horse to run barrels?
After two or three days, they get to a barrel and know what they’re supposed to do. I don’t typically ever stop at a barrel.” Once the colt understands how to lope a big, easy circle around a barrel, Harmon will begin dialing down the size of the circles according to how much the horse can handle.
How much does it cost to train a barrel horse?
GOALS: Buys, sells and trains horses for barrel futurity and barrel racing competition. EVENTS/BREEDS: Barrel futurity and rodeo barrel racing training. Quarter Horses, Appendix Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas. TRAINING FEE(S): $450 per month.
How do I get my horse in barrel racing shape?
Begin with low speed, long distance walking for 10 minutes each way and 20 minutes in total. Repeat three to four times per week. Trotting and loping can be added while varying the times and distances without risk of injury after 2 weeks. This exercise can be done riding or on a lunge line.
How do you start barrel racing training?
Barrel Racing Tips
- Start slow. You can learn the pattern at a walk, trot or slow canter.
- Don’t over school your horse. Mix things up, take him trail riding.
- Watch an event before you ride in one.
- Look where you are going, not where you have been.
- Practice balance when riding.
Is barrel racing hard on horses?
Barrel racing isn’t inherently cruel as long as it is performed with a professionally trained rider and a willing horse. The most common demonstration of abuse in this sport is when riders are under-trained and overuse whips and spurs.
What kind of horse is best for barrel racing?
Quarter Horses are the top choice for any barrel racer. All of the top pros are currently racing barrel horses to victory. These horses are incredibly fast, with some able to reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. This makes them the fastest horses of all.
Who is the best barrel horse trainer?
For most barrel racers, the big dream is to make the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
How much do barrel horse trainers make?
How much does a Horse Trainer make in the United States? The average Horse Trainer salary in the United States is $38,386 as of January 27, 2022, but the salary range typically falls between $33,704 and $43,478.
How much does a month of horse training cost?
Just like colleges, horse training prices vary greatly! Prices will vary from as little as $200/month to over several thousand dollars a month. Many people have sent their mount to the “trainer” only to get back a horse that wasn’t trained at all, or worse yet he comes back worse than he went out!
How often should you ride a barrel horse?
Keep in mind that a horse without the tools is going to need time and need to be ridden five days a week. Going around the barrels three or four times in one day is plenty. Remember not to overdo it because training doesn’t happen all in one day. The reward comes in steady, consistent riding each day.
How long does it take to get a horse in shape?
Generally speaking, you should count on anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks of regular exercising and conditioning in order to get him ready for the challenges of regular trail riding or competitive showing.
How long does it take a horse to get out of shape?
Many horses have been off work or at a lower level of work with the “Stay at Home, Save Lives” directives in place. The resting horse loses muscle condition in four to six weeks, tendon and ligament responsiveness around six weeks, and bone concussion conditioning between eight to twelve weeks.
Is barrel racing hard to learn?
Little does everyone know, barrel racing is fast paced, requires dedication, and is extremely dangerous. To be a barrel racer it takes agility, guts, trust, strength, and a lot of patience.
How long does it take to learn barrel racing?
It’s really does take approximately 2 years to train a solid consistent barrel horse. You will move faster if your horse already is broke, broke, broke. Walk, trot, canter, back, sidepass, WHOA, rollbacks, leg yields, turn on the haunches, bending, flexing etc. Barrel horses must know more then to go fast and turn.
What is the best age for a barrel racing horse?
The best age to start a horse on the barrels is generally five years old. A barrel horse needs time to develop the basics before it started on barrels, and this takes time. The natural cues a horse should know are conveyed by mouth pressure, leg pressure, seat weight, and voice cues.
Horse Training Tips: How to Train for Barrel Racing (With Video)
Holle is a seasoned professional in the fields of pets, gardening, and horses. She works as a professional writer for a living. Being a professional cowgirl necessitates the ability to ride and train horses. Dennis Hoffman captured this image. Horseback riding has been a favorite pastime of mine for nearly my entire life. However, I haven’t done it in the previous three or four years, and even when I did, it was only for recreational purposes. I used to like barrel racing, though, and I’ve had the pleasure of owning a few of extremely good barrel horses in my younger years.
It’s done all throughout the United States at horse exhibitions, rodeos, play days, and in backyard fields and pastures, among other places.
What is Barrel Racing?
Racing around a barrel or barrels is a timed sport in which a horse and rider race around the barrels without knocking any of them over. The horse who completes the course in the shortest amount of time wins. The cloverleaf race and the arena race are the two most popular styles of barrel racing in the United States.
The cloverleaf is constructed from three 55-gallon barrels that are arranged in a triangular arrangement. Barely 90 feet apart, they are located right across from each other in a straight line. The tip of the triangle is formed by the third barrel. It is situated in the middle of the two barrels, which are 105 feet apart. Whenever a horse or rider knocks over a barrel, the rider is punished 5 seconds, which often eliminates him or her from contention for victory or placing. In rodeos, the cloverleaf is a well-known competition.
The Arena Race
The arena race is another sort of barrel racing that is becoming increasingly popular. In this competition, one barrel is put in the center of the arena at the far end of the stadium. The horse and rider sprint around the barrel and back to their starting point. The person who completes the course in the shortest amount of time wins, and if the barrel is toppled over, penalty time is added. In most cases, the arena racing may only be seen at smaller exhibitions and fun days. Horses and riders competing in barrel racing must learn how to lean into tight bends.
The Right Horse for the Clover Leaf
It takes a lot of effort to prepare a horse for the clover leaf competition. To even have a chance of winning, you must start with the correct sort of mount. Even while any horse may be trained to run the barrels, a true competitor must have exceptional speed and agility, as well as the correct attitude. It should also have great, balanced conformation, as well as strong legs and feet, among other characteristics. Barrel racing is a grueling sport, and a horse with any soundness concerns will never be able to maintain a sustained winning streak.
- It is preferable to have a stock-type horse, such as the American Quarter Horse.
- The older foundation bloodlines are preferred by some, while others favor Appendix Quarter Horses with Thoroughbred blood are preferred by others.
- Before starting on barrels, a horse should have had extensive training.
- It should have spent a significant amount of time on trails and be exposed to a variety of uncommon noises and sounds, as well as unfamiliar people.
- When the horse is around five years old, it is a good time to begin barrel training with him.
- You’ll get a sense of which direction he prefers to turn.
- It is critical to grasp this concept during barrel racing training since you will base your direction on which turn is simpler for your mount.
You will save important seconds since your horse will only make one right turn and two left turns when running the pattern in this manner. If your horse prefers to turn to the right, start the pattern from the left so that you’ll have two right turns at the end of the pattern.
Equipment You’ll Need
You’ll need to either purchase or borrow the appropriate equipment to complete this task. A customized barrel racing saddle with a high horn and a deep seat will assist you in staying in the saddle during the race. Furthermore, because this sort of saddle is less in weight than most other types of saddles, it will not cause the horse to become sluggish. To protect the horse’s back, the saddle should be used in conjunction with an appropriate saddle pad. When your horse is exiting a barrel, you’ll need a solid breast collar to protect the saddle from sliding around during the forceful lunges your horse will make.
- Long reins just get in the way of the horse’s movement.
- A solid pair of boots is also a must-have for this occasion.
- A pair of shin pads to protect your legs from the metal barrels could also be a good idea to have on hand.
- Not only do you need to defend yourself, but you also need to consider the other member of your team: the horse.
- Purchase a pair of hoof boots to keep your horses’ hooves safe.
- Wild designs like zebra and colorful hues like hot pink can be found on the boots, which are also available in a number of sizes and colors.
- Take a look at the high-quality boots available for purchase below.
If at all feasible, place your barrels in a soft or plowed part of the ground. Not only does this simulate the surface of a regular show or rodeo arena, but it also assists in the development of your horse’s muscles and provides a soft landing area in the event of a fall. Put something approximately two feet from the drum at the point where the turn will occur to create a “pocket” around each barrel to prevent it from rolling away. However, some trainers use old tires, and I’ve always been concerned that the horse may step in one and damage himself.
They’re not only safer, but they’re also more visible to horses, which is a bonus.
The First Day
Start by walking your horse to the first barrel and stopping him there for the first day of training. Then make your way around the barrel.
Carry out the same procedure with the remaining two barrels. This will educate the horse to “grade” the barrels, which will be useful in the future. Take a few steps around the barrels and give them a rating. Praise your horse and signal the end of your training session for the day.
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- After breakfast the next day, take the horse around the barrels twice again, evaluating each barrel as you go. This will assist him in recalling the lesson from the first day. After that, trot him to the first barrel and halt him there
- Traverse the barrel with him, then trot him over to the second barrel. He should slow down and trot between barrels as he gets closer to each one. Trot the pattern a couple of times and call a halt to the day’s activities. The trot-walk technique should be repeated numerous times daily until it becomes second nature to your horse. Start trotting him around the barrel a few times without halting before the barrel or slowing down to a walk around the barrel once it has happened.
He should gallop around each barrel with his head low and his mouth open, as if he were giving in to the bit. Instead of using the bit to guide him around the barrels, use your legs to do it. Try using a martingale on the horse until he learns to keep his head down properly if you’re having trouble keeping it down otherwise. Train in a variety of ways. Make the horse stop in front of the barrel on occasion, while on other occasions, direct him to trot around the barrel. This will demonstrate to him that you are in command of the situation, as well as keep him attentive and thinking on his feet.
- Prepare for several days of loping to the barrels and trotting around them.
- Once he has established a pattern of behavior, you may instruct him to lope to and around the barrels.
- When it comes to circling a drum, each horse has his own distinct approach.
- Keep his form in mind, but don’t be concerned if he has his head down and his shoulder lowered, and he is efficiently cleaning the barrel of ammunition.
- To keep the horse’s balance from being thrown off, you must maintain a balanced center of gravity.
- From time to time, after your horse is regularly loping the barrels correctly and rating each drum, you may progressively raise your speed.
- The only time you’ll need to run at full pace is when you’re just starting out.
- At this stage, a lot of barrel racers will employ the bat or crop.
A Word of Caution
Stop training if the horse begins to demonstrate inappropriate behavior or becomes unduly enthusiastic at any time during the process. Retrace your steps and return to the previous stage for a couple of days. You might easily become absorbed in barrel training, but you must remember that dedication is the key to success. Don’t push your animal, and don’t let him grow reliant on racing barrels for his entire existence. He need a variety of activities in order to be happy, peaceful, and mentally well.
Finish each training session on a good tone at all times.
You are not required to cease riding for the day; you are only required to halt barrel training for the day. Always maintain consistency, and always compliment your mount when he or she exhibits good conduct.
Be Ready for the Big Day
Before you take your horse out for his first competitive race, he should be in peak physical and mental condition. Running circle eights and tiny circles in a plowed field is a fantastic technique to build muscle and strengthen ligaments in your horse’s legs without putting undue stress on his or her bones and joints. He can fine-tune his turns as a result of this as well. In addition, make certain that he has had enough of “downtime” away from the barrels. On the day of the competition, do not feed the horse until four hours before the start of the event.
- This will assist him avoid hurting his tendons in the event that he braces himself on the ride to the competition, as well as saving him time on the road.
- You don’t want anything to get in the way of your vision.
- If at all feasible, arrange for someone to record your ride.
- Learning the methods from more experienced riders can also be aided by videotaping some of them in action.
- Expect to lose your first few competitions and finish in the top three.
- Observe the more experienced riders during their runs and draw conclusions from your findings.
- Many people will be willing to share their knowledge with you.
- Always give your horse the best possible care and attention.
- Supplements for performance horses, such as those offered for sale below, might be beneficial as well.
- Continue to practice, and before you know it, you’ll be walking around with a ribbon in your hand.
Question:Does it make a difference if my horse is athletic or not? If that’s the case, how can you judge if your horse is physically fit enough? Answer: Examine the conformation of your horse. Is it a healthy weight for you? Is it a quick download? Is it a well-balanced piece? Is it well-balanced on its feet and legs? It also requires powerful hindquarters in order to propel it around the barrels. Is a horse that is around 14 to 15 hands in height a suitable size for barrel racing? The answer is yes, as long as the horse possesses an athletic build, rapidity, and an excellent sense of timing.
- In order to answer this question, it is necessary to consider the legs, hooves, and overall health of the individual horse.
- Question:Does it make a difference how athletic my horse is when it comes to barrel racing?
- Answer: A horse with greater athleticism will perform better.
- Question:How can I know whether the boots I’m buying are the correct size?
- ann griggs griggs October 31, 2019: I used to race only one horse back in the day, and I was unable to complete the race.
- The 21st of June, 2019: I recently purchased an OTTB gelding.
- He is around seven years old.
Lexie Hamiltonon is a young woman who lives in the United States.
Franon The 23rd of August, 2012: Dear Sir or Madam, I was wondering whether you thought my horse Corona was suitable for barrel racing because she refuses to stop.
Thank you so much for everything.
Ab lads sprinting, barrels, and sidney on the ice The 28th of December, 2011: Hello, I am in the process of purchasing a thoroughbred, and I am a member of a high school rodeo team, thus I need to train him to run barrels.
I was wondering if you could provide me with any information or pointers on how to persuade him to sit on his hindquarters.
Thank you for your message; I look forward to hearing back from you.
The 30th of November, 2011: Although I am a barrel racer myself, I grew up in California and didn’t have any horse history or experience.
My horse, an AQHA palomino gelding who is 13 years old but appears to be seven, enjoys everything about barrel racing as well.
On October 1, 2011, Holle Abee (author) wrote the following: To be honest with you, Abigail, most people like a horse to be around 5 years old or older before commencing barrel racing training.
Most of them are quite adaptable.
Wishing you the best of success in your barrel racing training!
abigailon The 8th of August, 2011: Please contact me at [email protected]
I don’t have a horse yet, but I plan on obtaining one in the near future.
What is the minimum age requirement for your horse?
Thank you very much.
Tuesday, August 02, 2011: I’m starting my training two years early, but I’m confident in my filly’s ability to succeed.
She’s doing well with the training so far, and I appreciate the information.
Thank you so much for the information you provided.
Wishing you the best of success in your barrel racing!
I enjoy spending time with my horses, and I believe that my younger one will adapt rather well to the situation.
He’s a Mustang Quarter horse cross, and I believe he’ll perform fantastically!
I’ve got to go check what size boots he’s going to require.
Wishing you the best of luck!
Thank you for taking the time to read this!
The information has been beneficial:) Thank you very much for making it available.
The 17th of April, 2010: My roping mare, on the other hand, is going to be trained to barrel race.
On March 23, 2010, Holle Abee (author) wrote from Georgia: I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying, but thank you for taking the time to read! rhiannaon The 23rd of March, 2010: I didn’t inquire as to what to get, nor did I inquire as to how much I could spend 3,000 dollars on today.
Q Recently, I purchased an off-the-track Thoroughbred to use as a barrel-racing possibility for the first time. A portion of her training has already been completed; she changes leads, circles, and is gentle in the bridle, but she is still unfamiliar with the barrel pattern. What is the best way to teach her the pattern, and when will I be able to compete? Practice the routine at each stride until it becomes second nature. Increase your horse’s speed as he becomes more comfortable with slower paces.
- ALIZA ROBERTSON, PennsylvaniaA ALIZA ROBERTSON It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional or an amateur when it comes to horse training: consistency is crucial.
- The following are five areas you should focus on in your training, as well as my recommendations for the most effective barrel pattern to use in your shooting sessions (page 58).
- Ride on a regular basis.
- It will emotionally exhaust and annoy your horse to try to squeeze a week’s worth of training and exercise into a few short sessions of riding.
- Try to ride five times per week, with just two to three of those sessions devoted to barrel exercise around the barrels.
- Simply by circling away from the pattern, you can practice your turns on a daily basis without exhausting your horse.
- Make sure your horse is comfortable with the trot before moving on to the canter.
Keeping a 3- to 5-foot distance between you and the barrels while turning is a good rule of thumb; however, you should make adjustments as needed to accommodate your horse’s size and turning style.
Pick up your rein in the same manner that you would cue for your turn in the pattern after a few circles, and as your mare begins to demonstrate that she can maintain a uniform circle with little correction or cueing, pick up your rein again.
Provide a release-reward, and keep her from stalling by urging her straight out of your smallest circle and into another large, even circle, then repeating the process several more times.
Keep it as simple as possible.
Preparing your pattern before you begin will allow you to follow the same path through each practice session.
Because a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, this is the best way to approach each barrel.
Avoid the common mistake of flaring out away from the barrel, or “giving yourself room” as you approach your turn.
It also causes you to cover unnecessary ground, slowing your time.
A good rule is to keep a 3- to 5-foot space around the barrel as you turn.
Adjust this distance as you learn your horse’s turning style or to accommodate a larger- or smaller-frame horse.
The footpath you follow around the barrels should be the same at each gait.
Then start by walking your horse through this pattern as marked.
If form breaks down as you speed up, slow down and refresh the basics.
By keeping on-pattern drilling short, you’ll stave off feelings of resentment and keep her enjoying her job.
Begin in a large, controlled circle; cue in the same manner as you would for a turn in your pattern; and spiral your circle size down to a barrel-turn-size circle.
Repeat in the other direction.
As soon as you’ve reached this point, quit making practice runs at home and shift your everyday-riding focus to conditioning and maintenance.
The greatest mistake I see most amateur riders make after their horse has been patterned is adding speed too soon.
As she gains confidence at slower speeds, add a bit more speed and see how she does.
Bring her back down for a few runs, then try again.
n Darla Kennepohl lives in Kiowa, Colorado, where she owns and operates SDK Barrel Horses.
She’s a two-time AQHA world and reserve world champion, Jim Nordick Coliseum arena record-holder, Barrel Futurities of America World Champion, and accomplished futurity horse trainer. She prides herself in training quiet, talented athletes that compete with a willing attitude.
Seven Habits of Highly Effective Barrel Racers
Barrels racing is fascinating for both contestants and spectators because of the high pace at which it takes place. You have only a limited amount of time, and even the tiniest mistakes will cost you time and money. A fraction of a second can mean the difference between winning and losing in a sporting competition. Here are seven suggestions to assist you and your horse cross the finish line more quickly than ever before.
1) Improve Your Riding Skills
A large portion of the emphasis of some barrel racers is focused on getting their horse across the finish line as quickly as possible. Instead of perfecting their fundamental riding abilities, they adopt undesirable behaviors in order to stay in the saddle, which causes them to appear to be flopping all over the place throughout their runs on the horse. Even while sloppy riders may be able to achieve winning times on a good horse, they must have a strong foundation in order to do so. It is important to maintain proper riding technique so that you do not bounce around in the saddle, tug on your horse’s mouth, or interfere with his balance.
- In order to assist your horse during the run, lean slightly forward with your upper body and push down in the stirrups to remove your weight off your horse’s back.
- During your schooling sessions, you should focus on maintaining good body alignment.
- This stance is beneficial for both you and your horse in terms of staying balanced.
- Hold your hands low and even with each other near the horn Ask a buddy to photograph or record you while you’re riding in order to keep track of your whereabouts.
- A riding teacher can assist you in fine-tuning your riding posture and developing your barrel racing tactics.
2) Prep Your Equine Athlete
A barrel horse is a highly skilled athlete. Running and making tight corners need him to employ every muscle in his body. Your horse must be in excellent physical condition in order to perform successfully and avoid injury during the procedure. Despite the fact that barrel racing necessitates quickness, exercises are not about being fast. When it comes to getting your horse in condition, trotting is an effective method, as is riding uphill at the walk. Maintaining your horse’s fitness requires riding him three to six times each week.
Make certain that you build up his strength gradually over several weeks, and that you have your veterinarian check in on him occasionally to ensure that he is healthy enough to handle each progressively rigorous training. Injuring your horse by asking him to work too hard too soon might be fatal.
3) Create a Supple, Responsive Horse
Your horse must be supple in addition to having muscle and stamina to perform well. In order to beat the clock, he must turn at each of the three barrels as quickly as possible without knocking them over. The ability of your horse to bend has an impact on the quality and pace of your turns. Wide or harsh turns may add seconds to your run time and may cause your horse to tip barrels if you are not careful. Riding figure-eights, spirals, and large and tiny circles with your horse at home will help you get more comfortable with circles and turns.
4) Avoid Burnout
Don’t ride in the same pattern every time you want to practice running the pattern. With too much repetition, your horse may get disinterested and will begin to anticipate turns rather of waiting for your instructions. You may, however, continue to utilize the barrels for portion of your turning work in order to keep the horse moving forward. If you want to do figure-eight work with two barrels, set them up in a straight line and weave between them; ride down the rail of the arena and circle each barrel as you pass it; or circle one barrel beginning as wide as you can and spiraling your circle inward are all options.
To practice the pattern, begin with a walk and progressively increase your speed until you reach the lope.
Maintaining your horse’s concentration and preventing him from anticipating is another benefit of practicing the pattern at various speeds.
5) Pick the Pocket
When you’re running barrels, pay attention to the pocket, which is the space immediately in front of and surrounding the barrel where you slow down to make your turn. Horses will follow their riders’ gaze, therefore if you keep your gaze fixed on the barrel, you will be more likely to run into it. Once you’ve completed one barrel, raise your eyes to the next barrel’s pocket. When you reach each pocket, place your weight on your heels and yell “whoa” to signal to your horse that it is time to slow down and prepare for the turn ahead.
Slow down at a new barrel each time so that your horse doesn’t become accustomed to it being there.
6) Cue Up
You should never forget about your hands when you’re fine-tuning your horse’s capabilities. Most barrel racers ride two-handed, with one rein in each hand, as shown in the photo above. As you approach a barrel, grasp the horn with your outer hand so that you may push against it in order to keep yourself firmly planted in the saddle. Pulling oneself forward and off of the saddle may be accomplished by wrapping your palm around the front of the horn’s mouth. You should be able to easily rotate the barrel with your inside hand, but you should avoid making the error of dragging your hand upward or toward the barrel.
When you do this, your horse’s nose should be tipped toward the barrel, and the rest of his body will follow his nose into the turn.
To provide pressure directly behind the cinch with your inner leg if your horse leans toward the barrel or comes too near to it, bend your toe toward the barrel and press the back of your calf on your horse’s side with your inside leg.
If your horse is moving slowly between barrels, you may use your legs to nudge or bump him between them.
Instead, by leaning slightly forward and keeping your hands low and quiet, you may assist your horse in running quickly between barrels and on the way to the finish line.
7) Don’t Overdo It
Preparing your horse for the arena requires 20 to 30 minutes of walk, jog, and lope training, interspersed with some spins and circles, before entering the arena. Immediately following your race, you will need to walk your horse for at least another 20 minutes to allow him to calm down and rest his muscles. Don’t ride your horse for any longer than is absolutely necessary to completely warm him up on show day; otherwise, he’ll be too fatigued to perform effectively, and you’ll run the danger of damaging him for your next barrel competition.
The original version of this essay appeared in the May 2009 edition of Horse Illustrated magazine.
The Backbone of Barrel Racing Success – A Checklist for Training an Educated Body and Willing Mind
Listen to the audio version of this resource! Barrel Racing Tips podcast episode 158 is available for download. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn, Stitcher, or Google Play to get the newest episodes. Preschool instructors and colt starters, in my opinion, should be among the most highly trained and compensated individuals on the planet. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to argue that outstanding early education is critical to the future of the entire globe, not just the future of the horses and children they educate, but the future of the entire planet.
- Even while an elderly dog (or horse, or human) can be taught new tricks, life will be a lot simpler, safer, and more successful and productive for everyone if young people of any species have pleasant learning experiences from an early age, regardless of their age.
- Simply said, what students require in addition to discipline specific training is mental and emotional growth, maturity, and general life skills to succeed in their chosen profession.
- In the end, the outcome of our performance is determined by how effectively your horse can adjust to the stresses of life on the road – if he can remain calm and comfortable as you demand a high degree of physical response in even the most demanding conditions.
- When I’m riding close to our neighbor’s pasture, for example, I’m cautious not to disturb their cattle by doing so.
- To be successful as barrel racers, I feel it is critical that we focus our efforts on giving horses of all ages with the resources they require to be happy and productive members of equine society.
- A solid foundation extends well beyond the capacity to move bodily parts in a logical and functional manner.
- He will be less stressed, and as a result, he will have a greater degree of well-being.
- More than what we do TO our horses, a ‘foundation’ is about how we communicate WITH them, as well as about how we enable them to accept and react to the environment into which they are being introduced.
- It is my aim that, after seeing today’s video and putting what you’ve learned into practice, every part of your (and your horse’s) life – both in and out of the arena – will be favorably impacted!
- A issue on the pattern is never truly a problem that exists just on the pattern itself (IF you look close enough).
Consider the following areas as a possible formula for problem-solving: There are fundamental modes/systems of communication that humans employ that can be disrupted. Take, for example, the horse.
- Keep your cool and ponder about things
- OR be fearful of yourself and your tools
- Or be unconfident in a particular place, or when learning in general
- Can you tell me about how well the horse responds to constant and driving (rhythmic) pressures? This might occur as we communicate with them through the reins, lead rope, legs, or seat. to their lips, zones of their mid-section, or in/on ANY part of their body
- Or Does it matter what gait or pace they’re moving at, and can they do so in combination or isolation? Do things fall apart at a faster rate or at a greater distance? At what point does the brace, resistance, or disconnect take place
- And lateral (neck) flexion, vertical (poll) flexion, latitudinal (nose to tail) flexion, and longitudinal (‘bend’ tail to poll over the topline) flexion of my horse – at advanced phases, I expect my horse to retain form
- What about the quality of your horse – how swift, light, accurate, and sensitive is he (even while traveling at high speeds?) How much physical strain do they have, and what do their facial expressions convey? (Their mental condition IS a component of the foundation we build.) Are they aware that it is their obligation to behave as a partner and maintain pace and direction (and eventually form) until we urge them to do differently
With all of that said, how do you believe any difficulty you are experiencing or have had with the pattern (or elsewhere) is related to these areas? Fill in the blanks below with your questions, comments, and any barrel pattern issues, thoughts, or experiences. Check out the following links for more more information about this month’s Foundation topic:
- Develop a Winning Barrel Horse with the Help of Your Arena-side Guide
- With Flying Lead Changes, you can strengthen your barrel racing foundation in four simple steps. Operating under the guise of Operation Thawing Frosty: Melting long-standing resistance in order to give the country a new lease on life Horsemanship Comes First, Then Sportsmanship – Eight Important Priorities to Keep in Mind
Easy Does It
When it comes to preparing 3-year-olds for the juvenile futurity, trainer Lacey Harmon does not hurry the process. It takes a unique hand to make winning a $100,000 slot race appear simple while riding a 3-year-old horse that has never competed in one appear easy. Lacey Harmon, on the other hand, has done so on a consistent basis. Although she frequently finishes in the top three at the Barrel Futurities of America World Championship Juvenile Futurity and SuperStakes each year, her juvenile stars continue to thrive throughout their futurity year as 4-year-olds under her tutelage.
- While the pressure of getting a 3-year-old horse ready to clock with open horses by the end of the year might be difficult and demanding for some, Harmon’s approach is the polar opposite of that experience.
- Preschoolers Learn to Make Patterns According to Harmon, he prefers to begin barrel training 3-year-olds later in the year than other trainers.
- Harmon employs small loops around the barrels in the same direction as the colt to keep the colt from becoming overwhelmed.
- The pattern isn’t quite ready for me to lope yet, but I’m lopping plenty of circles,” Harmon explained.
- Eventually, they get at a barrel and understand what they are meant to do with it after two or three days.
- When they are completely comfortable and performing flawlessly—I am not referring to the precise ideal position, but more to the understanding and desire to be soft—Harmon will draw them in even tighter, he explained.
- “I’m not going to leave a barrel until they’ve relaxed.” Harmon doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about the intricacies of his body position at the beginning.
The search for smooth circles, rather than a conflict with them, is what Harmon is searching for, he added.
I’m not expecting much in return.
To begin the pattern and during loping circles, Harmon, on the other hand, will always place the horse on the right lead.
With that in mind, I want to make certain that they are well trained and do not cause difficulties.” Harmon begins training her 3-year-olds on the pattern by loping them around the barrels in large circles, not allowing them to leave the turn until the horse is calm and supple.
By completing the backside of the turn with a serpentine curve into the second barrel, Harmon aids in the facilitation of a lead change after the first barrel.
“Normally, while I’m loping the first barrel, I don’t complete barrels,” Harmon explained.
The fact that she believes in over-preparing her horses before exhibitioning is one of the factors that contribute to their success in futurities.
In terms of not exhibiting too soon, I have a strong belief.
Despite the fact that it may only take two weeks to have them loping the pattern, I want to keep them loping the pattern for several months until they are completely comfortable and secure with it.
In her opinion, putting too much pressure on a colt too soon will lead the horse to burn out by the time the futurity year arrives, when the runs must be taken into consideration.
You don’t want them to reach their peak too soon.” In addition, external pressures might lead to individuals putting too much pressure on young horses.
You see others sharing videos and think to yourself, “Oh, I need to run faster,” but in reality you should stick with what you’ve always done and what works for you and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.” When Harmon begins exhibitioning her colts, she does not put any strain on them.
- “I basically just sat back and let them figure it out for the first ten times,” Harmon said of the process.
- It’s all about getting your name out there and building your confidence.
- For each horse, she often does three performances, with the intention of steadily improving with each performance.
- Kailey Sullins took the photograph.
- Initially, my objective was to lope circles with the horses, but it didn’t always work out because they were too nervous, so I ended up trotting around the arena and letting them have a feel for the place,” Harmon explained.
- Throughout the year, I continue to improve and get quicker.” Harmon’s schedule is constantly adaptable to the needs of each individual horse.
- “I maintain a constant speed for a period of time; I don’t go too quickly,” Harmon explained.
” It is possible that I may have to lope through all three exhibits and lope circles until people pay attention.” Harmon isn’t concerned with how the horse is clocking until the end of August or the beginning of September.
“Sometimes kids take you by surprise, and some mature at a faster rate than others.
The fact that they will be clocking in until the fall does not concern me.
“It’s either something people want or something they don’t.” Drills for Improving Performance Harmon employs fence exercises and a circular tire drill to strengthen his footwork and increase his ability to generate force through a turning motion.
Harmon simply utilizes the barrier to encourage a colt’s feet to move more quickly and to respond more quickly to rider commands.
“I want them to retain their suppleness.” During fence training, she uses her body in a similar manner to how she would ride the backside of a barrel turn or a cutting horse.
To get the horse to slow down, she sits deeply in her saddle, places her weight in her outside stirrup, releases her inner and outside legs at the same time, and urges the horse to roll over its hocks in the direction of the fence.
I don’t want them turning back on the fence with their backs against the fence, but I do want them to rate at the barrier, Harmon said.
Exercises like these are designed to improve quickness on the backside.” For horses that have fallen out of lead or are struggling to maintain a smaller circle around a barrel, Harmon employs a circular tire drill.
The objective is to lope a circle around the cone while staying within the constraints of the tires’ specifications.
You can modify the distance between the tires and the cone according on your horse’s ability, with the end aim being a tiny, collected circle around the cone within the tires at the conclusion of the exercise.
In the case of horses who aren’t pushing through a turn or keeping a tiny circle, this is really beneficial since they have no choice but to do so else they would run over a tire, according to Harmon.
She also changes the shape of the circle when she begins to lop.
It is critical for the rider to maintain as much relaxation as possible while guiding the horse rather than forcing it into the circle.
This is because it is a challenging exercise.
As Harmon explained, “it’s a high-pressure environment, so they’ll want to panic a little bit.” “Try to remain calm and not put any pressure on them to do it; instead, ask them to do it gradually.” Prepared to Take Off If and when Harmon’s colts begin racing, she sticks to her no-nonsense attitude.
By the time the futurity year gets underway, Harmon’s colts will be well-prepared to hit the ground running, with a clear head, a firm foundation, and a promising journey ahead of them.
In the beginning, I only worked them two or three times a week and tried to keep things as simple as possible. “I don’t put them through too much training.” This article was first published in the October 2018 issue of Business and Humanities News (BHN).
Tricia Aldridge—Training Without an Arena
Every day use of a large arena with properly manicured ground is something that many owners of performance horses would give everything to have in their stables. However, it is feasible to do the task at hand—and, in the case of Tricia Aldridge, to complete it successfully—without the benefit of a personal arena. A pasture rider, the Sanger, Texas-based trainer takes use of the opportunity to bring her horses to local arenas or friends’ homes. She carefully plans her week to accommodate time for hauling.
Riding in the Pasture
Aldridge feels that one of the major advantages of pasture riding is that it helps horses to think freely since they are not restricted by walls or fences. As Aldridge explained, “I want them to be thinking about what they’re meant to do rather than depending on a fence or me forcing them to come back.” The absence of fences allows me to train in a more natural environment where my horses are not seeking for barriers. While it is vital to get the horses into an arena and teach them to gallop up and against the walls on occasion, I believe that you can accomplish a great deal more training without using a fence,” says the trainer.
Besides riding with a goal in mind and working on fundamentals like as “brokeness,” she also has barrels put up in the field for slow work in order to emphasize proper foot placement.
“There’s a lot of things we can work on.” “When you’re restricted in this way, you can’t travel very fast.” You must maintain concentrate on your fundamentals and ensure that your horse is placed in the proper position at all times.
In order to ensure her feet were in the proper position, I promise I spent the most of my time walking in a circle.”
Plan for Hauling Out
A effective riding program that does not include a home arena takes a greater level of dedication to scheduling your riding days throughout the week. The situation is “terrifying,” Aldridge said with a giggle. “I giggle because it is definitely one of my most stressful situations—where are we going to go riding today?” says the author. When Aldridge sets down to plan her schedule, the weather is the most important factor to consider. To which Aldridge responded with a chuckle, “I try not to be living over there since I’m usually calling over to friends’ residences.” In nice weather, but knowing that it’s going to rain in a few days, I’ll attempt to ride at home so that when it rains, I’ll be able to go somewhere else.
Aldridge also believes that not having the choice of falling into a monotonous arena routine at home on an older, completed horse allows them to enjoy the pattern when they do get to run barrels on the field of competition.
“Coming up near the end of their 3-year-old year, I probably haul the most because those horses are getting ready and need to be performing some quicker work on a daily basis,” he says.
If I can have an open horse, it will be beneficial since it will be doing something new than working the barrels.”
Why It’s an Advantage
As a professional barrel horse trainer, it’s easy to get dissatisfied with the absence of a home arena, especially when faced with frequent advanced planning, logistical issues, and additional time spent loading, driving, and unloading. Aldridge, on the other hand, sees it as an advantage. It doesn’t matter if we’re up for money or just practicing, my horses know they’re going to work barrels every time they come on the trailer, Aldridge said. “I believe it is a significant advantage for them, since it is always the same.
‘Oh, well, we usually do it somewhere else, so?’ they say.
Despite the fact that she has to haul a lot, she says that her horses aren’t bothered by it.
Advice for Barrel Racers Without Arenas
Aldridge emphasizes that spending time in the saddle every day is the most crucial component of a successful program, regardless of whether that time is spent in the pasture, the arena, or a darkly lighted flat stretch of pasture grass. “I believe you can win even if you don’t have access to an arena on a daily basis,” Aldridge remarked. If Miss JB 1214 got cold-backed, I’d literally turn on the headlights of my Jeep and trot that horse around in circles in my front yard,” says the author. Nothing can substitute for time spent in the saddle if you want to win, and even trotting around for 15 minutes is preferable than doing nothing.
Horses don’t need to perform nearly as much barrel work as people believe they require as long as they’re being ridden.
“I simply want to encourage everyone that they can achieve their goals,” Aldridge remarked.
Even if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to them, those horses can accomplish a lot more than most people realize if you simply put in the effort.”