Sue Smith Barrel Racing Exercise

Here is a great drill that Sue Smith (NFR Qualifier and Futurity Trainer) shared on her Spur UP – Sue Smith Facebook page.

The purpose of the drill is to get control of the horses shoulders. Sometimes a horse will “float” or drift in a turn where their shoulders are not following the inside rein pressure.

Sue teaches “separation” where she has the horse stop on the way into a turn and on the way out, giving the horse time to prepare and absorb the information give in the turn. Sue feels this helps the horse to soften and relax for the turn.

In this drill you will see the rider stops the horse before the barrel and counter bends the horse around the barrel pushing its shoulder in (which was wanting to drift/float). The second time the horse circles the barrel (not counter arced) it is more engaged in its hind end. She stops the horse on the way out before proceeding. This rider felt the horse drifting out on the way into second and quickly corrected it. You will hear Sue applaud her for her judgement there.

In Sue’s words:

The counter arc helps to drive the hip forward & down, “hooking” it to the front shoulder, this also “frees” the front end up, helps to elevate the shoulders and gives you rib control.

Thank you Sue for sharing this video with the public. You can find Sue online at or find her fan page on Facebook.  Sue trains barrel horses, does barrel racing clinics and makes amazing tack.  Watch for her at the NFR!

For more than 80 other barrel racing drills and exercises check out

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