Barrel racing started as a sport for women who wanted a challenging event to compete in. They set 55-gallon barrels in a triangular pattern and raced around them taking two left turns and one right turn. Barrel racing today is more competitive.
It takes more to win a race than just a fast running horse. The horse and the rider must be physically and mentally ready to compete.When deciding to barrel race, you need to know a few things. Time and effort from you and your horse are required for training.
Your horse should already know at least simple leads. Backing up, knowing whoa and other acceptable leads are very important. He will need these commands for going around the barrels and keeping his balance. Running at full speed to a slow trot to turn a barrel tightly, back to full speed, makes these horses some of the most athletic horses there are. Getting your horse to put his weight on his hindquarters and to disengage his front end is accomplished by simply teaching him to back up. This helps the horse by getting down and around the barrel.
You lose seconds off your time if your horse goes too wide or knocks over a barrel because he doesn't slow down enough.Set up barrels on an area free of grass. Grass tends to be slippery and dangerous for the horse and rider.
Walk your horse through the barrel pattern. When your horse is about 10 feet from the barrel, stop the horse; take at least three steps back, making sure the horse's hind end is under him. Have your horse go forward walking around the barrel.
It is okay to go a little wide but bring the horse in closer as you leave the barrel. Do this for each barrel but after the third barrel, go back to the starting position. Move on to trotting the barrels once your horse masters walking the pattern.
Trot up to the barrels but continue to walk around them. Have your horse start trotting when you start moving away from the barrel. Repeat this at each barrel being sure to go to the starting position after the third barrel.Do other events with your horse like poles, cones or just trail riding to keep him from getting bored.
Once your horse is doing well trotting around the barrels, you can start loping the barrels. Have someone videotape you and your horse while working the barrels to look for any problems. You'll be able to determine if your horse is changing leads correctly or if he is slowing down when needed.
At any time of training, if your horse is having difficulties with the pattern, fix it before it gets out of hand by going back and walking through the pattern. Do not try to put speed on your horse until he is well seasoned, usually at least one year.To get your horse use to running in different arenas, let him barrel race in small shows or exhibitions.
Make sure to keep your horses' mind sane and yours, by doing something other than barrels. Keeping your horse happy is important for him to be a good barrel racer..
Michael Russell.Your Independent guide to Horses.
By: Michael Russell