Two (Contradictory) Tips to be Straight and Fast Between Barrels

Photo by Schaffer's Photo Express

Listen to more on this topic in Episode #73 of the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
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We all know that the fastest path between two points is a straight line. Even one or two wasted steps between barrels can slow us down dramatically.  If your barrel photo has every looked like the one shown above – then it’s possible your path between the barrels is not as straight and fast as is could be.

In this week’s Q & A we’ve addressed an issue with a horse and rider that struggle with leaving the first barrel wide and get out of alignment for the second barrel. Whether you’ve experienced this issue or not, the two valuable (yet seemingly contradictory) tips provided in the video below not only fix this problem, but will also ensure that you are following the absolute straightest, fastest path between barrels.

In this old photo, the way in which I asked my horse to turn actually created an “energy leak, ” causing him to take extra steps as we headed to the next barrel. Discovering the real cause for this problem required that I retrace our steps to determine – what happened, before what happened, happened!  The solution seems contradictory because in cases like this, we often have to add steps, and time in certain areas on the pattern, to more significantly shave off time, and decrease steps in other parts.

As promised in the video, I’m also providing a link to a great, informative Barrel Horse News article on treating bleeders – Click here for “Guaranteed to Bleed? – Treatment for EIPH” (Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage).

P.S. As if gaining unique tips for turning in faster times wasn’t enough reason to check out this edition of Q & A Tuesday, I also show off my creative abilities with a marker and a diagram of the barrel pattern – don’t miss it!

3 replies
  1. Hillary
    Hillary says:

    This comment isn’t for this Q&A. First thank you so much Heather. Keep this gold mine going! When I first saw the Jane Melby article I thought it was going to be about knowing where the first barrel was from the alley. Some places you can’t see it until you’re in the arena. I read it and I had a lot to think about. I never get the chance to walk the pattern before we compete-but it did give me the idea to check myself out by doing the walk. The hand positioning was something I really need to work out. I have an energy leak. I’ve had a lot of changes physically and mentally since the last time I competed 15 years ago. Plus new horses. I’ve been trying to work my balance issues out by doing balance excerises bare back so I can get the feel. My horses are probably great-but I do think I may be holding them back. For some reason I keep turning my barrels with my elbows up-I don’t know why I have started doing this-but it really puts my horses head and shoulders in a bad position. I also don’t have the energy I had 15 years ago. My horses-except for one-literally plod into the arena. That’s me causing it. The exception horse is because my adrenaline is pumping because I never know what she is going to do-she 6yrs old but very green. She runs hard though and if I ever let her have her head she would be flying. There’s a number of things the article got me to thinking on though. I’ve never let go, never look back and never look down on my horses-or barrels!

  2. Deedle
    Deedle says:

    Thank You Heather for that tips on the drifting. That question was regarding a great horse that was pushed out of being a baby, with one week slow work to! “like you said,” He was not taught the ABC, and pushed to Jr. High School. I understand that I have to start him all over again!!! Slow work and teach him to get off his front end and use his back end. I have notice that even in the field he runs on his front end, even stops on the front end.. I wondering if I well ever get him to use his hind end??? I do have a problem with the horse that I have already sent in my $$ for World. I know the show is in two weeks. He seems like he just started this, but I am sure he has been doing it for sometime, and I just missed it. When we R coming out of our turn his hind end hits the barrels usually on the first, But he has started doing it on the 2nd and sometimes the 3rd. One! I knew part of it is ME, not setting down enough in the saddle, which I am working on in my slow work with him, while I also am learning to use my hind end. My question is, I have two weeks. I not expecting a miracle! just a good run, one where I don’t mess him up, but one that I can just have a clean run with the best we can do-in a short period of time since seeing this problem. Any help would be appreciated.

  3. Abby Drummond
    Abby Drummond says:

    hi my name is Abby Drummond and I have a horse named Dixie she was a 15 second horse but then she set for 5 years and now she is in shape and running barrels but not going as fast she is super slow around barrels and slow going to barrels if you could help me and tell me what to do to get a faster run thank you ?


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