When I got together with a few barrel buddies recently there was a lot of awkward silence, broken up with a few verbal “WOWs.” You could almost hear the wheels turning.
We were measuring and comparing where our horse’s feet travel on the barrel pattern. The uncertainty in the air was palpable, so I reminded these gals (both with 1D horses) that “different” didn’t necessarily mean wrong.
But like me, I knew they were ALSO thinking about how these measurements related to how their horses used themselves in a run. The possibility of taking something good and making it much better was exciting!
I thought back to times I had ridden with Charmayne James, who teaches students to travel the same distance around the turns, or Lisa Lockhart who advises folks to follow a path that is widest (approximately 5-7 ft.) at the start of the turn, that gradually decreases on the back side and is narrowest at the finish (approximately 1-3 ft.), then there’s Lynn McKenzie who teaches a straighter longer approach, which includes more room on the back side of the barrels.
I was also reminded of two horsemanship clinicians who taught the same program fundamentals, but one prefers to swing the shoulders to prepare a horse to perform a flying lead change, whereas the other preferred to move the hips over.
The same idea could apply to each barrel racer’s preference when it comes to pre-turn positioning – do YOU push the hips in, or lift the shoulders up… both, or neither? It’s not that one way is right or wrong, and to a degree they each accomplish similar goals.
They key I believe, is to “Be firm on principle but flexible on method.” – Zig Ziglar
Remember also that if something works for one person and not for another, it’s often due to how the technique was applied, OR even the makeup of the raw material they had to start with (the horse’s foundational understandings). I encourage you to always go deeper before writing something off as “not working!”
When we took a stroll through the pattern, first on Lucky then on Kat with each rider placing the horse where we felt they should be. This is what we found at the second barrel: Read more