If you are confined to a small space, or the only ground you have to work on isn’t that great, you do have options.
Here’s a drill that NFR Qualifier, Futurity Winner, Calgary Stampede Champion Sue Smith does that will work in those cases. When your ground is poor and also when you are just learning this drill you can start at a walk-trot and still make a great difference in your horse.
I give the rundown on the how, why and cautions you should take over at our sister site www.BarrelRacingDrills.com but you can watch this video of Sue doing the drill and give it a try for yourself.
It’s a bit confusing to get the hang of but works wonders to get shoulder and hip control in young and seasoned horses.
When do I change? Where do I change and why do I change there? I’ve been to quite a few barrel racing clinics and these are common questions. How do you train your horse to change leads out of first barrel (or between first and second barrel)?
I’ve heard a variety of answers all from professional barrel racers with a long list of achievements. Here are some of their thoughts on the matter:
Don’t worry about it, they figure it out
Never approach second on the wrong lead
Train for flying lead changes before I go to the pattern
Break the horse from a lope to a trot out of first (then pick up the other lead)
Break the horse to a trot at my rate point at second and pick up the other lead to lope around second
Teach them a flying lead change out of first on the pattern
Ask for correct leads going slow, but don’t worry about it going fast
Which is the correct way to do it? That is up to you. But, here are my thoughts on it. I want to turn the barrel on the correct lead so I will try and avoid approaching the second barrel on the wrong lead. Assuming I am loping, I will come out of first, set up for lead change (by finishing the barrel and pushing off). I will feel for the correct lead and if I didn’t get it I will break to a trot and pick up the correct one and carry on. Now this is where it is important your horse is very well broke before you start on the pattern. If you have to trot for 10 strides before you get your lope you are going to be at second and not properly prepared to turn it. To me, properly turning the second barrel is more important than my lope so I will either stop and regroup or stay in a trot and prepare for second (if I haven’t caught my lope.
I posted this drill on our facebook page and someone pointed out that this horse was obviously very talented and there were other things a person should be doing other than that drill. Their suggestion was hip control exercises. I agree that hip control is important for lead changes, but I also think this drill I’m posting here is helpful. Before this drill this horse was not picking up her lead. I worked some figure 8′s around this first barrel (she goes left first) and I was able to get the change. With some horses you may have to do this over several sessions (days) to get this. Others, you might have to circle less than I did before you start to feel the hip and rib control like I started to feel.
In barrel racing, it’s those smooth and effortless looking runs that can really stop the clock. Any time we can soften our horse and gain free, easy movement we have an opportunity to improve our efficiency on the pattern. The more efficient we are, the quicker our time. There are different drills and exercises that [...]
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