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STOP the Drop – STAND UP for Powerful Positioning and Efficient Turns!

STOP the Drop - STAND UP for Powerful Positioning and Efficient Turns!

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #59 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
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If you’ve been following the action at BarrelRacingTips.com for a while, you know that I often stress the importance of instilling an education in horses that allows us to move their body anywhere, at any time.

We must have a high degree of understanding, communication and responsiveness to have influence over our horse’s body position at speed especially.

Although some barrel racers don’t want their horses too bendy and “gumby-like,” what’s most likely happening in these cases is that the horse is not taking responsibility for staying perfectly on track – causing a need for the rider to micromanage the horse through the turns. Read more

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!

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

Don’t Get Strung Out! Three Exercises for Hind End Engagement

Don’t Get Strung Out!  Three Exercises for Hind End Engagement

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. Read more

Keep ‘em Standing – Four Tips for Reforming a Barrel Crasher

Keep ‘em Standing – Four Tips for Reforming a Barrel Crasher

“It’s like he’s magnetized to the barrels!”

“He just plows right over them ON PURPOSE!”

“OOOUUUUCH, my *&^$%R% kneeeeeee!!!!”

*Sniff, sniff* “We were, *sniff* SOOO close!”

If you’ve ever shed a tear over a tipped barrel, you’re not alone. Maybe you’ve missed out on winning a huge check, or a trophy saddle. Maybe you’ve traveled the long ride home with nothing but paint from a barrel on your jeans, and a badly bruised shin and/or ego.

The bottom line is – tipped barrels are PAINFUL, in more ways than one!

Whether your horse is a chronic barrel crasher or you just want to prevent tipped barrels, this week’s Q&A is for every barrel racer.

Tipped barrels can occur from time to time, even to the best barrel racers. For horse and rider teams who are otherwise consistent, it’s sometimes a fluke thing and nothing much to worry about. In these instances, it’s important to take note of what caused the tipped barrel, replay a perfect run in your mind, and move on. If your horse tips the same barrel twice in a row, however, it’s time to focus up.

The video below describes FOUR detailed tips for reforming a “barrel crasher.”

At the same time, the points will also prove extremely valuable for preventing tipped barrels from ever becoming a problem.

Read more