Tag Archive for: dropping shoulder

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

Speed Kills – How to Resolve Issues that Only Occur at Speed

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Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #27 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
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When it comes to training barrel horses, it seems like everything can change when we add the pressure and challenges of competition. If you’ve been barrel racing long enough, you’ve probably had experiences where it seemed like everything felt perfect – until your horse found a few more gears. Or that you could make an awesome run at home, only to have it all fall apart in competition.

While some horses have more ability to efficiently maneuver their bodies at speed than others, our job as riders is to help balance out their natural tendencies. We want to polish up what’s good and better develop the weak areas. But what about when we feel like we’ve done EVERYTHING, and things STILL come apart at speed or in competition?

With one of my horses in particular, I felt like I had left no stone unturned when it came to developing a foundation that would carry through to our performance on the pattern. But for years, we would miss the mark. It was insanely frustrating!

In this article I’d like to share WHY I think things tend to fall apart at speed, as well as how my horses and I have overcome the challenges that speed presents. As with many issues that come up on the pattern, they are often only symptoms of deeper issues. I feel as though understanding the “why” gives us insight into “how” to successfully troubleshoot. I’ll also be sharing a few exercises that have been valuable to me for ensuring there are no disconnects between my horse’s slow work and speed work, that I think will be helpful for you as well.

One of the first reasons our runs go downhill at speed is because we, OR our horses, resort to old habits that are not efficient or no longer serve us!

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Follow the Barrel Racing Pattern of Least Resistance

Follow the Barrel Racing Pattern of Least Resistance

What does a bag of flour, soccer field markers and a tape measure have in common?

Well, they are yet another Secret to Barrel Racing Success, of course!

When it comes to navigating the cloverleaf, some top barrel racers keep an even distance around the barrels. Although it’s not as common as it once was, some still make a swooping pocket coming into the turns. Many barrel racers come into the barrel a little wider than they leave it. Some trainers ask their horses to follow a slightly different pattern in slow work as they ask for in a run. Many of us designate a “point” a certain number of feet in front of a barrel as the location to rate and/or shape for the turn.

Flour, soccer field markers, and a tape measure
Flour, soccer field markers, and a tape measure.

My preferred method is somewhat of a combination of these concepts, and I then customize that pattern slightly based on the horse I’m riding. Additional slight adjustments may be necessary in an actual run depending on the conditions.

These are circumstances when it becomes especially important for our horse to be truly connected and willing to follow our guidance. If you missed my last article on that very subject, to make sure you and your horse are on the same page (even when going mach 10), click here to Get Connected to Shave Time Off the Clock.

The truth is, the path we train our horse’s feet to follow (and how) on the barrels can make it physically easier OR harder to navigate the pattern quickly and efficiently. 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.

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