Teach Your Barrel Horse to Maintain Body Shape for Better (Faster) Barrel Racing

Teach Your Barrel Horse to Maintain Body Shape for Better (Faster) Barrel Racing

Although riding with bit contact and learning to do so well IS not only an important part of our development as riders/trainers, AND our performance horse’s education, unfortunately it’s all too common for our horse’s athletic abilities to be DEPENDENT on that contact.

I had some first hand experience with this recently as I set out to master BRIDLELESS flying lead changes with my barrel horse.

Although I’d had quick and easy success with flying lead changes with other horses in the past, performing them with him initially had been a challenge for us both.

Eventually we mastered flying changes, and he’s been going beautifully bridleless, so I didn’t quite expect that combining the two would be so difficult.

BUT, where there is challenge, there is change, and I was committed to persevering through what it would take to achieve my goal, having faith that there would be some valuable lessons on the other side.

What I realized right off the bat, was that when I didn’t gather Pistol up with the reins and support his collected frame with my hands, his body “fell flat,” and all hopes of performing bridleless flying changes fell with it. Read more

Free Your Barrel Horse from Emotions that Hold Back Athletic Potential

How to Give Up Micromanaging and GAIN a Horse that Loves Barrel Racing!

They say when you take the bridle off your horse, you’re left with one thing – THE TRUTH.

In the second of a three part “TRUTH” series, today I’m sharing some powerful lessons that came to me during the first few bridleless rides with my husband’s gelding Dot Com a while back.

You may already be familiar with Dot Com and the steps I’ve taken to guide him through “rope horse rehab.”

One chilly day the winter before last, my husband was filming Dot Com and I for a project at a local indoor barn. I was riding him in mecate reins and his elevated stride kept bouncing the reins and causing the mecate to slip out of my belt loop.

To say it was distracting and annoying would have been an understatement.

So I did what anyone would do (just kidding, don’t try this at home without plenty of prior, proper, preparation) – I took the bridle off and tossed it to the ground.

My husband’s jaw dropped… Read more

How to Give Up Micromanaging and GAIN a Horse that LOVES Barrel Racing!

How to Give Up Micromanaging and GAIN a Horse that Loves Barrel Racing!

One of the biggest problems we face when it comes to micromanaging horses, is that we don’t often know we’re doing it.

When that’s the case, we also don’t know that the reason we’re doing it is because our horse isn’t taking responsibility, and down the line even further – we may not realize that it’s OUR responsibility to teach the horse theirs.

So I’ll begin by not-so-anonymously stating that my name is Heather Smith, and I’m a “recovering micromanager.” My gelding Pistol is one of my four-legged partners, AND enablers.

If you’re also a micromanager, and would like to start on the road to recovery – welcome to the club! You’re in good company. VERY good company.

One of the first steps is admitting there is a problem. The primary symptom of the problem may be that you’re not clocking in competition as you would like to. The next step is a willingness and desire for change.

The best way I have found to truly test yourself and test your horse, not to see whether you are micromanaging – but HOW BAD (because we ALL tend to do it to some degree), is to remove what’s in the way of making it obvious. Read more