Tag Archive for: going by barrel

How to Use Body Language to “Go and Whoa”

How to Use Body Language to

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.

Make going by barrels a thing of the past.
Make going by barrels a thing of the past.

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.
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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