I once came across a definition of impulsion recently that described it as the equal balance of “go and whoa.”
So if we have more “go,” or more “whoa,” we not only lose impulsion, but chances are we won’t win the barrel race either!
In a world where tiny fractions of a second can be life changing, maintaining this balance becomes a very delicate matter. Our horses must be able to deliver every ounce of speed they can muster between barrels, and then rate down for the turns like a jet engine in reverse.
It’s not uncommon for horses to get too much run on their mind and lose their “whoa,” OR start anticipating the turn so much that they can no longer be driven up into the turn. When we’ve reached to either of these extremes, it’s well past time to take action to correct the problem.
But a barrel racer must specifically understand HOW, which is what this week’s Q&A video is all about.
If a rider’s hands don’t educate a horse appropriately, in time a horse will become more and more dull to their pulling. If a rider uses their body to constantly urge a lazy horse to keep moving, soon their urges lose their meaning as well.
Eventually, a barrel racer might go to a bigger bit which may help temporarily. But if they don’t change themselves, and learn how to teach and maintain light responsiveness in their horse, eventually they “run out of bit,” meaning that even firm contact connected to a severe mouth piece no longer gets the desired response.
Once you’re in this spot, there’s nowhere to go except back to the beginning. It’s likely to be a long road once habits are established, which is why I suggest having extremely firm basics to start with, and revisiting and refining them on a consistant basis.
Barrel racing is a sport, that in my book, demands more firmly established mental, physical, emotional and educational foundations than any other equestrian discipline. Yet it’s a sport which has developed a bad name for horses and riders who lack these foundational elements.
Not only can refining the communication with your horse ensure that your horse doesn’t blast by a barrel, run through your bit, or refuse to stop, but doing so also means that your “go button” will work better too (think of it like strapping a nitrous oxide booster to the back of your saddle)!
When your horse is in tune to your body language and understands that something as subtle as raising your energy means “GO” then you’ll have instant blast off (and that’s without having yet even picked up a whip or over and under)!
If your horse gets strong and pushes against bit pressure, like Courtney’s horse does in the video above, or if you’d just like to get a more explosive “blast off,” you’re sure to take something away from this week’s Q&A.
After all, we can ALL benefit from more refined communication with our horses!
Have YOU struggled with balancing “whoa and go?” Can you imagine having such refined, precise control of your horse?
Are you ready to take action and implement the suggestions in the video?
Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!