NFR Qualifier Melanie Southard offers some great video tips on how to keep your horse from shouldering the barrels and some exercises to correct this problem.
It’s all about controlling the hips, not the shoulders! If his hip is engaged, his shoulder has to be up in the correct position. Shouldering is a (bad) habit and in order to correct it we need to instill a new habit through slow and correct work. Take the time to build to a quicker speed with correct form.
The coolest thing about this 4 corner barrel racing drill is that I videoed myself after this picture with a GoPro! (You can watch it if you are subscribed to BarrelRacingDrills.com ).
Click to enlarge
It looks a bit distorted here due to being such a wide angle, but you get the idea! HOW: Go the same distance around each barrel, going the same direction circling from the outside in (inside out is another drill). Some horses will try and drift off, others cut in so it is your job to keep them on the track for a perfect circle keeping their body balanced throughout. This is a lot of work for the horse so don’t overdo it and only go as fast as you can do it correctly. Starting at a trot is a good warm up. You can work up to a gallop in between and a slower gathered lope in the turns. Depending on the horse I’m circling 10 to 20 feet off the barrels and they are about 50-55 feet apart in this picture. Don’t hesitate to go wider if you need to, to keep a perfect forward moving circle.
Here is a barrel racing exercise for you to try. I use this one a lot and you can do quite a few different drills with just this one set up . HOW: Set three barrels up in a row (equally spaced) and you will be able to work more than one drill with your […]
A solid approach makes for a solid exit. With second barrel, you want to make sure you are riding right up into the turn and getting your horse up into the “hole” (past barrel) before starting the turn (green). So often the horse and rider enter second barrel too wide, or in an arc (and […]
Check your tracks whenever possible. The red line indicates where many people accidentally end up. Make sure your horse is leaving the second barrel straight and strong (green line). The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so be sure to keep your horse between your hands and legs to help him stay […]
This seems pretty obvious when you look at the picture, but this can happen really easily, even to experienced racers. Check your own tracks to make sure you aren’t taking extra steps on the way to your first barrel. The tracks didn’t show up as great in the picture (and the curve looks more exaggerated […]
Lessons From The Saddle 1 If you are having a problem with just one barrel, isolate that barrel and that problem. Don’t go through the rest of the pattern and start again just to work on your second barrel (for example). This image shows how I will approach and turn my second (in black) and […]
I’m using myself as an example of what NOT to do. It turns out (as usual) that the video doesn’t lie. I had a pretty good run, our first outdoor run of the year and we placed second in the 1D against a group of horses who were also just getting rolling this spring. Not […]
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 […]
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 […]
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