Tag Archive for: motivate your horse

Provide Motivation and Create Consistency in the Barrel Horse

Many barrel racers experience frustration when their horse has too much GO. However, it can be every bit as (if not more) frustrating when your horse doesn’t seem to have enough GO – especially in moments when it’s needed most.  This week’s Q&A specifically addresses two issues – motivation and consistency.  The video also shares some insight into helping horses on the other end of the spectrum, who have an overwhelming desire to constantly move their feet.  

Lazy Barrel Horse
Energy Conservationist Hard at Work

Trying to physically motivate a lazy horse, can be exhausting and annoying – if you’re not careful, you’ll be doing more work than they are.  If you find yourself having to put a lot of effort into keeping your horse’s energy up, then step back and consider this…

Which horse do you think will put more effort into performing – one that moves with energy because he genuinely wants to – or one that only does so to avoid what happens if he doesn’t? 

Contrary to what most people think, a lazy horse is not a lost cause in the barrel racing world.  In fact, what “lazy” really means, is unmotivated.  Creating desire in a sluggish horse means figuring out HOW to motivate him, preferably in ways that create true enthusiasm and not resentment.  If we’re smart, we’ll cause the horse to want to move with energy, before we even ask. 

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Work Ethic – How to Develop & Maintain It in Horses, Part II

Work Ethic – How to Develop & Maintain It in Horses

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #8 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Play.


Last month we started to discuss the importance of establishing and maintaining strong work ethic in our horses. We went into depth on five ways to make this possible –

1. Stay on Your Feet
2. Challenge Yourself
3. Mix Things Up
4. Don’t Skimp on the Compliments, and
5. Try a New Discipline

This month we’ll continue with five more ways to develop and maintain strong work ethics in our equine friends.

6. Keep Harsh Criticism to a Minimum – Horses don’t try to purposely hit barrels and like humans, they aren’t perfect. So you had a bad run? Does that make it acceptable to be excessively firm on your horse’s face or take him out for a “behind the barn” session? Would you never dream of responding in such a way when your horse doesn’t perform?

The reality is, that it happens and it seriously affects our horse’s work ethic. There’s no quicker way to destroy your horse’s “want to” and even burn them out completely than to respond to what you thought was a poor performance with rough treatment, abuse or repetitive and excessive hard work. In addition, when worked to the point of exhaustion, your horse is more likely to injure himself and much less likely to retain what you’re trying to get through.

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Work Ethic – How to Develop & Maintain It in Horses, Part I

Work Ethic – How to Develop & Maintain It in Horses

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #8 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Play.


work ethic   n.    a belief in the moral benefit and importance of work and its inherent ability to strengthen character.

The important role work ethic plays in our ability to accomplish goals and achieve success in life is hard to downplay.  We may not have the ability to instill these values in our co-workers but fortunately we do directly influence our horse’s level of work ethic. 

By establishing and maintaining a good work ethic in our horses, they are more likely to enjoy their jobs and try their best for us.  In addition, we increase the odds for their long term mental soundness.  These factors are likely to create more satisfaction and enjoyment for ourselves in return.  As performance horse owners, we would be wise to consider this ability as not just as an opportunity, but as a responsibility.

Recently I headed down the driveway for what was my young gelding’s first real ride outside the confines of the arena.  I had properly prepared him for such an outing but I was surprised how briskly he walked out.  Never going faster than I asked, my youngster was alert with ears forward, not showing the slightest amount of fear or uncertainty.  The high level of confidence he carried himself with made him feel as though he was ready to take on the world!  I am not certain that my colt’s behavior was due to his “belief in the moral benefit and importance of work,” but I appreciated his willing attitude none the less. 

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