Sherry Cervi on training a sensitive, higher energy horse

Here are a series of 4 videos where Sherry shares some of the exercises she uses on her 8 year old horse Chappi.

(if you are reading this on facebook you’ll have to go to to see the video series)

She says Chappi is a hotter type horse than she usually rides.   He doesn’t have a lot of rate and she has to do lots of stopping and backing with him.   Chappi is a bit nervous but Sherry does a good job of keeping him calm and listening.  She says she doesn’t make a big deal of some of the little things he does.   She emphasizes the importance of slow work with these pushy nervous type horses.

In the second video of this series Sherry slows Chappi down at the barrels instead of stopping.   She talks about how she prefers a martingale over a tie down for slow work.  Sherry also reiterates how with these sensitive minded horses you have to be careful not to pick on them all the time.  Here is the video for more details:

In the third video of this 4 part series you’ll see Sherry do her drill where she will do a 360 degree turn on the backside of the barrel to keep his hip up under him and bringing his front end around.  She wants her horse to bring his front end across and not float away.  She wants them to cross over.

In the final video of this series Sherry Cervi shows us some roll backs on the fence on her horse Chappi.  She says he uses this to help teach a horse to plant their but in the ground and to be really soft and responsive.   This is a good video to see when they are doing it wrong, but then how she eventually gets him working better.  Most of us don’t get it perfect the first time so its good to see how they will settle in and get better and better.  Sherry talks about when it time to quit too.   She is satisfied after a couple good roll backs in each direction with this horse,  but you need to know your own horse and know their breaking point.  You need to know when their learning is becoming destructive rather than constructive.   – Great point Sherry!

You can learn more about World Champion Sherry Cervi (and watch more videos too) on her website www.SherryCervi.comI also highly recommend her training video with Clinton Anderson.  It is one of the more expensive videos on the market but it is also packed with THE MOST information of any video out there.  I think its 11 hours and its actual training, not a bunch of product endorsements.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Diana October 9, 2009 at 11:34 am

thanks for sharing, those were good clips


Betsy Beamer November 11, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Hi Sherry. I am a 4h leader in Clark County Wa. We are across the bridge from Portland Or. I have been researching your training methods for the hot or nervous horse. Some leaders in my county think that a gaming horse should not have to do the same standard of showmanship as the kids that do performance. I disagree completly. Because I feel that ground work is the most important element in riding. I practice Downunder horsemanship and think it’s essential to any discipline. Although I do not game, I do not think it is impossible to have that gaming horse stand still and walk or trot along side of you. In your videos you show that it is expected to have a respectful horse. I would like to know what your thoughts on this matter are and any imput you could give me to take back to my peers would be so . appreciated and helpful. Thanks for your time. Betsy Beamer 4h leader of the Mane Eventers.


tipster November 21, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Hi Betsy, Thanks you for your note. You will want to go to Sherry’s website and contact her directly with your questions. Thank you.


Alicia February 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Hello, I just wanted to let you know that I completely agree with you. I was in 4h for several years and rode a horse that did both gaming and performance, and he was a sensational showmanship horse. He had no problem competing against other horses that were strictly used for performance. I firmly believe that my horses job is to do what I ask, whether it is to run and turn a barrel, or compete in a jumping class. Of course I do not expect him to do everything perfectly, but I all disciplines have the same basics. That combined with great ground manners have allowed me to compete in a wide range of events. Just wanted to share :) and thank you for being a 4h leader, my leaders have made a huge impact on me and taught me everything I know.


Sonia January 15, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Thank you so much for the awesome training tips on video! My daughter has just moved from a quiet, reliable middle of the road speed horse to a green, strong and sensitive one. He reminds me very much of Chappi. Rexx has a lot of speed and is quick and light, but doesn’t yet have any rate and blows through the patterns w/o listening. We are going to try your drills on him and look forward to reporting our progress!


lacy December 10, 2011 at 10:44 am

Hi, I need help with my barrel horse is who is in training, he goes to the right as his first barrel. He is running hard now is at the point of slicing his 2nd and 3rd barrel uncontrollably. I have tried a longer shank bits, exercises etc. My shins have had enough of hitting barrels that I switched him to the left barrel, which is now his first barrel. Everything is smooth without him wanting to cheat me what soever, he goes a little wide to the first, but not a whole lot. Does it wreck a horse when you switch the first barrel?


tipster December 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm

No, this does not wreck a horse at all. Just be very careful that the horse doesn’t start slicing this way too or you will be out of options. I would also consider checking the horse for soundness if you tried all those other things and it didn’t help. There is a reason your horse chooses too turn like this and its not really a natural way to do it.


Nicole Porter January 26, 2012 at 9:42 am

Where do you get the videos? I would love to have a copy.


tipster January 26, 2012 at 9:54 am
Or google Clinton Anderson Sherry Cervi Barrel Racing Video – there are other places that sell them too.


Debbie March 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I would like to start barrel racing.I do not know how to go about getting my rodeo card so i start barrel racing. Would you be able to help me to get started or let me know how to get started. Thank You, Debbie


tipster March 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm

I would try and connect with someone in your area that already barrel races at the level you want to compete at. Rules are different in different associations so its best to connect with someone in your area.


Anna March 23, 2014 at 8:20 am

The horse I am currently riding is 11 and I’ve been riding her around 4-5 years, but I’ve been barrel racing off of her more around 2-3. Whenever I go to run her she’ll act like she’s just not trying to run. I feel like she would have the athletic ability to make a solid 2D and possible 1D horse. I’ve used a stiff whip but i feel that only gets me so far, same with the over and under. Is there anything I can try? Or is she just not cut out for barrel racing ?


tipster April 6, 2014 at 9:29 am

Hi Anna, it is possible that she doesn’t have the desire to barrel race. Some things you could try before you quit racing would be to take her to an equine performance vet to see if she if has any soundness issues limiting her performance. You could also try a chiropractic and massage therapist for help. You might also consult with your vet about your feeding program and discuss whether she is getting enough energy in her diet.


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