Tag Archive for: NFR barrel racer

Prior and Proper Preparation with NFR Barrel Racer, Lisa Lockhart

Prior and Proper Preparation with NFR Barrel Racer, Lisa Lockhart

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #23 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
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The success of any athletic maneuver, no matter the sport, comes down to preparation.  Even the most lightening fast moves (especially the most lightening fast moves), can be traced back to proper preparation, sometimes as subtle as a shift in weight that occurs in a fraction of second.

The hind end must follow the front end.
The hind end must stay engaged and follow the front end.

Multiple time NFR barrel racer, Lisa Lockhart explains that anyone who has driven a truck pulling a horse trailer knows that turning safely and efficiently requires more preparation than what is required behind the wheel of a sports car.  Horses are similar to a truck and trailer rig in that their back end must follow their front end, and that they need to be properly prepared in order to turn efficiently.  As “drivers,” it’s important for barrel racers to have an understanding of what proper preparation consists of, and how work as a team with a horse to bring together all the elements in a way that results in the fastest time possible.

There is a high level of communication and processing that must take place in order for messages to be relayed back and forth between horse and rider to prepare for the turns.  The ability to get ready quickly comes easier to some horses (and riders) than to others, but the horse’s ability to do so is very much connected to how correct and responsive we’ve trained them to be.

If you imagine driving a truck with bad breaks, a sticky accelerator or no power steering, you can better understand how any stiffness, resistance or lack of responsiveness in a horse is sure to create a delay in a run.  It’s crucial for our horses to respond to us like well oiled machines when we ask them to be supple and willing to bend through the rib cage and in response to bit pressure applied through the contact we make with the reins.  Read more

See Jane Walk, See Jane WIN! Around the Pattern with NFR Barrel Racer, Jane Melby

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #9 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Play.


Jane Melby
3X Gold Buckle Winner, Jane Melby

It wasn’t surprising to see a top barrel racer coach new students by taking them on a trip around the barrel pattern afoot.  What would have been surprising, would have been to see how much the arena glowed, had the light bulbs above the students heads been real.  This was no average trip around the pattern.

What was different, was that each individual student received instruction on how to walk the pattern properly, one approach, turn and exit at a time.  Next, they did just that (repeatedly), while NFR barrel racer Jane Melby, and her husband Ryan critiqued and made corrections to the way they RODE the pattern based on how they WALKED it.

I was aware of the way in which our horses tend to mirror our own bodies when we ride them.  Until I had an opportunity to walk the pattern with Jane, however, I was NOT aware of the numerous, subtle ways in which my body was out of position in a run, and how that became obvious by how I walked.

The realization that I stepped into turns with my inside hip leading, made total sense of why my horse sometimes struggled at the first barrel.  If his body mirrored mine – how could he be in good position for an easy turn?  On the second barrel, the way in which I started turning my own body too soon, totally correlated with how my horse also starts the turn there a bit too soon.  And that funky little move my gelding tends to make on the back of the third barrel?  YEP.  ME – Guilty!

Like any other time I’ve had a major AHA moment on my barrel racing and horsemanship journey, I couldn’t help but do a little “happy dance” inside, as I just KNEW I had made a HUGE step in my awareness that would translate into even greater success in competition.  There may not have actually been a light bulb shining above my head, but trust me – I was glowing.
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