Get Started Barrel Racing

Get Started Barrel Racing

What You Can Do Before Your First Lesson

Ready to start barrel racing? Here are some tips to get you started on your own. If you meet your first barrel-racing teacher with a few of these skills already under your belt, you'll impress!

For starters, don't just start galloping at the barrels. Your horse must have a solid foundation to begin training for the demanding sport of barrel racing. You should be able to walk, trot, canter, gallop and have a good stop and back up before you set up any barrels for practice. Get your horse's canter leads really solid and you might even like to have some flying changes going. Rating at the gallop is going to be vital to you, so be sure you can go from a strong gallop to a steady canter calmly.

Rating Exercise : Before a long straight length of the arena, ask your horse for a gallop out of the corner. Halfway down, rate back to a calm canter for several strides, then to a walk. Stop. Back up, then walk forward until you are again on the corner into the straightaway, and repeat. Do this only three or four times in each training session and try to keep it as calm as possible. Notice how quickly your horse starts to anticipate the gallop, and whether he gets excited for it or starts to resist. If your horse resists when he reaches the gallop area, you may have been urging too hard or there may be other problems like saddle fit that need to be addressed. If your horse starts to resist or try to bolt when you come to the area where you'll be slowing down, you may need to soften your rein aids here or check the fit of your bridle. If he is getting out of control wanting to gallop, change the area of the arena you ask for the speed every time you do this exercise.

Next you'll be getting out a set of barrels. If you can have all three set up on good footing ( not on grass which can get slippery) that's best. You don't have to have the pattern regulation-size, just in the basic triangle pattern. Unless you know your horse is really super turning right, you're going to do your pattern in the standard "Right. Left, Left" way.

Basic Barrel Exercise: Walk towards the rightmost barrel. Stop where you will be asking your horse to rate for the turn- usually about 10 feet away at this training stage, and several feet left of the barrel.

Back up a few steps. Now walk around the barrel, turning right, starting wide (even 5 feet wide) and getting closer until your foot almost touches the barrel. As you turn, look up away from the barrel you're turning and look for the leftmost barrel. Try to focus on the spot where you're going to stop next, in line with the place where you'll start your next turn, several feet wide of the barrel. This is a left turn, going to the apex barrel at the top of your triangle. As you get used to moving around the barrel, try to look up toward your next barrel as much as you can. And don't race home every time, just walk down the rundown to the fence, and let your horse stretch out and relax a bit.

When your horse begins to anticipate stopping at the rate point, and is calm and unworried, you can start trotting the pattern, still stopping and backing up at your rate point ten feet from the barrel. Make sure you use a bit more urging coming out of each turn to tell your horse to hustle off towards the next turn. Trot strongly down to the fence after the third barrel but stay relaxed. Once you and your horse have had a few repetitions of this exercise over the days and are comfortable here, you can start loping between barrels and trotting around them. At this point you will probably start needing help from a friend or trainer, to watch your pattern and help adjust your turns and flying lead changes.



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I always start from the ground up. Start off by working on your horses movements and flexibility. He/She should be able to touch thier nose to their belly/ribs. If your horse can do certain tricks like bowing, etc. thats actually a good thing because this will make things easier for horse and rider. My horse knew nothing when i got him except to follow the butt in front of him. Just shows a hack horse can turn into an excellent barrel horse.

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