I very strongly believe that the problems that show up in a run are often problems that are showing up everywhere else, but they are just more subtle – so they go unnoticed.
Typically a horse that loses engagement in the hind end, will be a horse that doesn’t exactly have a habit of traveling with great quality in general.
Remember that speed and the pressure of competition emphasizes everything! A problem that is barely noticeable will becoming glaringly obvious in a run. This is why it’s so critical for barrel racers to understand what quality movement really is, and how to develop it.
Doing so would solve so many issues on the pattern, which is why I dedicated an entire chapter to the subject of Quality Movement in “Secrets to Barrel Racing Success.”
Let’s say, however, that you have very skillfully developed the quality of your horse’s movement and were absolutely positive they were using themselves correctly on a regular basis with impulsion, collection, flexion and all the other aspects that make up quality movement – and your horse STILL was not engaging his hindquarters on the barrel pattern.
Find out what three exercises I recommend to close the gap between awesome dry work and lackluster barrels in the video below…
For help with overcoming any bad rider habits that only seem to occur in a run, check out “Kiss Bad Barrel Racing Habits Goodbye!”
If you enjoyed this video, please use the links below to share with your barrel buddies!
Then, in the comments tell me – have you ever had a horse that seemed to revert back to the same old habits at speed, no matter what you did in slow or dry work? What did you do to help resolve the issue?
In this month’s barrel racing article we’re going to start going DEEP, really deep into what makes a perfect circle – which is the most foundational and important element of an efficient run.
We’ll actually start with WHY it’s so critical that we focus on circles as well as include action steps for how you can spot check and improve them, which will ultimately lead to faster turns. Basically we’ll cover the “how, what, where and why” of perfect circles (not necessarily in that order).
Instead of making you dizzy, we’re going to focus on quality instead of quantity. After all, if you’re not sure your circles are correct, you just may end up getting really good at performing them incorrectly. When it comes to barrel horse training, that’s definitely NOT what we want!
In the process, you may find that circles are even more complicated than you thought. However, with the insight gained you’ll be armed with new awareness and skills that you can apply ASAP to strengthen this foundational ingredient of any successful barrel racing run.
To start it’s important to be reminded that any high level athletic maneuver is built upon a foundation of excellent basics. I don’t mean basic, basics – I mean EXCELLENT basics. I’d venture to say that the majority of barrel racers dramatically overlook and under appreciate the importance of achieving excellence starting with the most elementary skills and maneuvers.
I can’t stress enough that I don’t mean “good basics,” but “excellent basics!”
If you’re not winning every barrel race, or if you’re not just thrilled with every performance you make (or even if you are), then there is probably room for growth somewhere down the line. Read more… »
Having an overly-analytical mind can be both a blessing and a curse. Just ask my husband – an overwhelming desire to constantly improve things (everything), can be exhausting!
It means I’m always on the lookout for how things can be made better. It also means I have a keen eye for what’s wrong, which sometimes overshadows what’s right, and CAN act as a barrier to seeing the glass as half full.
So although I have to be aware and train myself to be content and enjoy the present moment, and to feel more and think less, my tendency to improve everything I see and experience translates into a desire to help other barrel racers do the same.
Speaking of that – are your turns as fast as they could be?
In the video below I’ve described what actually happens to cause a horse to fade or pop out of a turn, AND what to do about it!
In fact, you might be surprised to learn most barrel racer’s initial reaction for resolving this issue is actually contradictory to what I recommend.
After all, fading out of the turn is a not really a problem, but a symptom of something else going on – which may require a completely different mindset, as well as specific problem solving techniques that you might not expect. Read more… »
Although my husband’s gelding Dot Com came to us already having a long list of achievements in the roping pen, his sensitive nature combined with the pressures of life as a high caliber performance horse had contributed to a way of feeling and moving that involved a lot of physical tension, high headedness, inverted posture, and emotional insecurity.
When presented with an opportunity to spend time with Dot Com, although I drug my feet initially, I have to say I did feel confident I could meet Dot Com’s needs in a way that would change his life for the better, and bring out the best in him – both in the arena and out.
It just hasn’t happened the way I thought it would…
My journey with him so far has been rewarding, especially lately, but it hasn’t been without its challenges. In this article, I’d like to share a few of the lessons Dot Com has helped ME learn and ways in which he’s helped expand my own abilities, in hopes that it will expand yours as well. Read more… »
In this final part of a three part series of all inclusive Q&A videos, I will be sharing what it really means to provide proper leadership, and how doing so can create not only happier, but more competitive barrel horses.
The definition of leadership, thanks to Wikipedia, goes something like this…
“Organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal.” A leader is “somebody whom people follow: somebody who guides or directs others.”
I also love this definition of leadership in the quote below from Dwight B. Isenhower…
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
Now there are a few signs that may be showing up if your horse is needing more and/or better leadership from you…
- Gets distracted, can’t focus, can’t stand still
- Is spooky, tense, high headed, hesitant, worried
- Is resistant, unresponsive, unwilling, or dominant
- Is “naughty” or dangerous – kicks, bucks, runs off, invades your space
You might automatically think “Oh, MY horse isn’t that way!”
But really, if you become very aware and look closely – does he ever volunteer to walk off before you ask? Or is there ever even a split second of hesitation present when you ask him to go? If so, regardless of whether the symptoms are very subtle, lack of leadership can be holding you back in competition.
In every herd of horses, there is a leader, usually a boss mare that leads the other herd members. When you are with your horse, YOU are the leader, even if your herd consists of only you and your horse. So it’s up to you to watch out for danger, protect your horse and help them feel OK about their surroundings so they can be calm, connected to you, and responsive.
Read more… »
You may already be well aware of how important the start of any barrel racing run is. If so, this past post may give you even more insight into how you can be sure to set yourself up for success on the way to the first barrel.
When we interviewed World Champion barrel racer, Mary Walker she explained that the reason for her tipped second barrel in the fourth round of the 2012 National Finals Rodeo was a positioning issue – in the alley. You read right – she felt as though Latte tipped the SECOND barrel, because of a positioning problem in the alley.
But what if your success in a run, or a ride, started EVEN before that. What IF it started before you even laid eyes on your horse?
In the height of the competitive barrel racing season especially, I know that if I’m not very intentional and specific about planning my rides in advance, I’m less likely to stay on track.
Sometimes, when the busyness of life gets the best of us, planning might take place after we’re already on the way to the barn, but rarely do I throw a leg over my horse without first giving thought to my intentions for each ride and what I am aiming to achieve in the long run.
At the same time, if we become too strict with our plans, we risk getting out of touch with how our horses feel and what they need in the moment.
This is so critically important, because let’s face it – than can change from one day or one minute to the next! We may find that we need to focus on something entirely different than what we planned on. In these cases, it’s best to be flexible and allow our horses to guide us.
Once you’ve made some notes (even mental notes) of your intentions for your ride, your second opportunity to set yourself up for success comes when you set foot toward your horse to halter him. Notice I said “halter,” and not “catch” (there is a BIG difference)! Think of it this way – you want to “catch” your horse’s ATTENTION, then halter your horse.
Read more… »
What does this quote mean to you?
“Too many parents make life hard for their children by trying, too zealously, to make it easy for them.” – Goethe
I feel as though too many barrel racers (and riders in general) make life hard for their horses (and themselves) by unconsciously trying to make life easy for them, or by micromanaging (any control freaks out there?), or being too perfectionistic.
As with human children, if you do too much for your horse, it will make life harder later, for both horse AND rider. Most times, barrel racers don’t even realize they are micromanaging and doing FOR their horses, which they would really be better off doing for themselves.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m an advocate of correcting mistakes the instant they occur in barrel horses, especially on the pattern. If your horse gets out of position – DO NOT PASS GO – fix it then and there before you move on!
If you find you don’t have the foundational elements to fix the problem quickly and effectively, then forget about the pattern temporarily until you have the calm understanding and education you need to get your message through.
However, when I say be sure to correct mistakes the instant they happen – this DOES NOT mean PREVENTING your horse from making mistakes.
Mistakes are how horses and humans learn.
Whether it’s a young horse or human, we want to raise them to be educated and good decision makers, but if they slip up – there are consequences for those mistakes, which are great learning experiences.
So often as barrel racers we’re searching for something new, something we haven’t heard before. I found out that the same way in which some people can “talk and talk and talk and not SAY ANYTHING,” that people (me in particular) can “listen and listen and listen and not HEAR ANYTHING.”
Truth be told, it was AFTER I had achieved a fair amount of barrel racing success, and been a longtime practicing student of horsemanship and had even taken numerous young horses from unridden to reining horse broke, that I feel my journey just began.
Dissolving the blocks that took my barrel racing success to a whole new level meant taking an even closer look at the basics – MY BASICS and MY HORSE’S BASICS. It was greater awareness, subtle changes, and consciously retraining myself in the little things that lead to the most radical shifts.
Honestly, although I’ve always been obsessed with learning, there was a time a few years ago when I pretty much thought I had the whole package, but my eyes were finally opened to all that I had overlooked.
It’s so critical to realize that that with real horsemanship, there is no end, no bottom, and no limit to how much more we can achieve when we release our idea that “we already have it all.” There is no such thing as “good enough.”
When we’re looking for “something new,” or “something we haven’t already heard,” what we often really need, is to peel back the layers on that which we already know - to see our challenges with new eyes. Even if we’ve achieved some success or have been riding all our life, it’s likely that we’ve only just scratched the surface of our (and our horse’s) potential!
BarrelRacingTips.com is about going under the surface, but what I share will only serve you IF you possess an open mind and an already existing willingness to do so.