Tag Archive for: barrel horse collection

It’s All About the Ribs – Flex and Elevate Them for Ultimate Athleticism & Power!

It’s All About the Ribs - Flex and Elevate Them for Ultimate Athleticism & Power!

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Before I dive into an effective exercise for flexing and elevating our horse’s ribs, it’s critical to understand the reasons WHY achieving this roundness through a horse’s midsection – both latitudinally and longitudinally, is so important.

To start with, a horse that is dropped or concave down its topline will tend to be elevated and strung out at the front and back ends, meaning higher head positions and hind legs that trail out behind rather than reaching powerfully under the body.

Circling with flexion and minimal guidance.
Circling with flexion and minimal guidance.

A horse that drops their midsection laterally to the inside of a circle is not in an athletic position either. It’s not uncommon to see horses with this positioning habit tip barrels, prepare for the turn too soon, and even fall down. This unbalanced and off center “inside out” shape makes any athletic maneuver more difficult, awkward and therefore, SLOW.

When a horse truly lifts their back and rounds their body, space is created for the hind legs to more easily reach under, which more effectively supports a horse’s bodyweight for ultimate propulsion. At the same time, as the ribs both elevate upward and flex to the outside of a circle, a horse will tend to naturally bring their head set lower, tip their nose to the inside and really engage that inside hind leg. Read more

Instill Independence and Refine Body Control for Faster Times

Instill Independence and Refine Body Control for Faster Times

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 you AND the horse. 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 opportunities.

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Six Secrets for Relaxed, Quality Movement

Six Secrets for Relaxed, Quality Movement

Just like humans, horses are born with naturally occurring tendencies, characteristics and personality traits.

Some tend to be more high strung, some tend to be laid back, some are more naturally confident, some are more fearful.

What many riders don’t realize though, is that there is a TON we can do to help our horses achieve balance. When we do this, we’re likely to experience the benefits both in the barrel racing arena and in our horse’s over all physical and mental well-being.

Because I love horses so much, I feel a great personal responsibility to instill in them the education and emotional fitness necessary to successfully handle the challenges that come along with life as performance horses.

Quality movement helps reveal your horse's greatest potential!
Quality movement helps reveal your horse’s greatest potential!

Most barrel racers will deal with some tension or an over abundance of “go” in a horse at one point or another. It’s often a byproduct of the speed that’s required in our sport. Speed releases adrenaline, it creates anticipation, and unlike other slower paced equine sports, speed adds even more pressure to the competition environment.

Some horses who are confident and have been carefully developed, may genuinely experience excitement in anticipation of running, but often, what WE would like to perceive as “excitement” is actually worry, impulsiveness, anxiety, tension and fear.

Whatever labels we assign to their behavior, it’s important that our horses remain connected and responsive to us, and that we do our best to keep their association with the barrels as positive as possible.
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