Help for a “Hot to Trot” Barrel Horse!

There’s something critically missing in the steps many barrel racers take to rehabilitate a “burnt out” barrel horse.

Being that barrel racing is a sport that includes high pressure, high speed, and high stakes, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of these horses around.

Your Horse Depends on You

But barrel horses don’t HAVE to be crazy. Barrel horses WILL be excited, a bit on the muscle, and generally pumped up in those seconds before blasting off to the first barrel.

However, tension, nervousness, over-anticipation, and lack of control crosses the line – it negatively impacts runs, and it’s fully within our power to change (and prevent) this from happening.

It’s up to US realize the effect we have on our horses and take personal responsibility for how we influence them – there IS hope for those talented horses who have gone far off the mental & emotional deep end.

In the video below, I’ve shared the three most common reasons barrel horses become “disturbed” and hard to handle. I’ve also shared four areas of barrel horse training where we need to develop their confidence, including the ONE area that directly affects ALL the others.

Most importantly, I’ve explained and shown examples of the person you need to BE to bring a horse from “blown up” to “blowing away the competition.”

As the author of “Secrets to Barrel Racing Success,” and numerous barrel racing articles here on, leave it to me to emphasize something that most barrel racers would never guess is so important in creating and maintaining a horse’s mental soundness!

The truth is, that although what we DO with our horses is important, even more important is “HOW.”

Watch the video below now to bring your barrel horse from “flaming out of control” to “perfectly simmering!”

What do you think?

Do you have any tips for restoring a horse’s mental and emotional fitness?

What will YOU be paying more attention to, or doing differently after watching the video?

Let me know in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this video feel free to use the “Share the Knowledge” links below to send it to your barrel racing buddies!

10 replies
  1. Monique Fontenot
    Monique Fontenot says:

    I so look forward to your tips! You are so encouraging and I really like your style of training. I’ve purchased your book “secrets to barrel racing success” and have read it twice already!


  2. Kim
    Kim says:

    Your tips and videos are truly amazing:) I have a 16 yr. old gelding that I purchased a year ago. He is over the top nervous and will flat out refuse to approach the arena while mounted. If I walk him to the holding pen then get on he is a little better. At times when exiting the arena after a run he is just a nervous. I have had him to a Ed Wright barrel clinic and others. The previous owner told me he never refused to enter the arena with her? I dug around and got some background on him. As a 2 year old he was almost sent to the kill pen as he was very unmanageable. A man bought him, broke him and trained him on the barrels. I spoke to the man that broke him and he said that there were times that he almost gave up on him. He rode him in a regular old curb grazing bit. He had him 4 yrs. then sold him to the lady I purchased him from. Both told me that he doesn’t like change. She always kept a halter on him as he didn’t want to be caught. I don’t have this problem with him, he nickers when he sees me and comes to the gate. I ran him last summer about 8 times at most. I had a heck of a time finding a saddle that fit him. The one I started with in the spring was too narrow. He had to be chiropracted for rib being out on his right side 3 times last summer. He was previously ran in a twisted rope nose bit. Ed had me change to a pretzel correction bit as he can be very hard to stop. After the clinic this spring I started riding him in a D-ring snaffle I guess it has been a month now and he is getting softer. I tried to run him at a show with a D-Ring twisted and totally shot past the 1 st barrel. I was so concentrated on being calm and getting him in the arena that I didn’t even think about my run 🙁 On the ground he can be bully and doesn’t like to stand still to be mounted. I have been working on his ground manners and he is improving. In the field with other horses he is plain mean to them. He has never buddied up with anyone. I really want to help him, he is a great horse with amazing potential. Thank you so much for your tips.

    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Kim,
      Good for you for putting effort into really understanding this horse and giving him a chance. I think any article I have done with or about my experiences with Dot Com would be helpful. It sounds like your gelding really needs good quality leadership, that is so important. Keep up the good work!

  3. Heather
    Heather says:

    OMG that’s my question! I’m so honored! Your advise about bringing my energy (or confidence) up to her level and keeping her feet moving is exactly what I’ve been doing. I ran her last weekend for the first time in a while, I went to just lope and exhibition but felt a sense that we were ready for a run. I kept walking her around instead of sitting on her to watch which helped keep her mind calm, then instead of running from a stop I gradually went from trot, to lope, to run. I rode her aggresively and confidently which must have made her feel confident because she smoked a run and won a check!! Thank you for your articles, they are all very helpful!

  4. Heather
    Heather says:

    It’s me again! Same horse, who is now running quiet and without stress. She is currently running .5 off some tough CO rodeo horses. My question: she is such a turner that I often have to stay over her around the 2nd and 3rd barrel. When I do it feels great but there is no “snap” or excelleration out of it. On the first barrel especially I have to drive her so hard into it that I also have to sit hard to get a good set-up to the 2nd. If I sit down and look to finish, she plants her hind end too hard which take time off. She’s so sensitive to any movement that I pretty much just have to get her feet to the right spot and sit quiet. I am pretty quiet with my hands, but if I even just direct her around the barrel she stalls. I thought about using a snaffle or something she could run through. Thoughts? Exercises?

    • Heather
      Heather says:

      Disregard unless there is value to others. I saw a still picture from last weekend’s race and I TOTALLY grab her face on the backside. Maybe my horse “Liz” should be the one asking how to fix her human!

  5. Amber
    Amber says:

    I have a question. I’ve had a mare for 4 years now and during slow work she is awesome. She’s responsive, quiet and willing and will do just anything. Until we work on loping. Just a nice quiet lope is all I ask for but she rockets off into a full out run and will leave her second barrel wide, practically running back to her first (she runs to the left). She’s incredibly hot, but only if we’re going any faster than a trot. Before she discovered speed, on her own, she was placing in the bottom of the 1D just cruising the pattern. But then one day last year she got it in her head to run wide open without me asking for it and I haven’t made any progress since. I’ll do weeks of slow work and maybe lope it once, and I’ve also taken her off the pattern completely and played around with the trail challenge obstacle course, but it always ends with her becoming a rocket ship. I don’t know what else to do and I feel like it’s about time I sell her and move on if I can’t figure this out.


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