Is your horse ready for the barrel pattern?
I get asked this question a lot. We take horses in training for barrels here at the Stairs Ranch and prospective clients want to know if their horse is ready to start on the barrel pattern. So here is my reply:
No matter how long I have been around horses, I still can’t seem to get them to talk to me. Well, at least not in English.
So, what I do from time to time with my barrel horses, is turn them out to be horses and watch what they do. I stand there for 10 minutes in the beginning of turn-out time and then again for 10 minutes or so before I catch them. I may even make them move around so I can watch them in motion.
1. If you learn something, write it down. There are Barrel Racing Log books out there for just this purpose. Or you can just use any old piece of paper. If you need to remind yourself to ride two hands longer, or to look in a certain spot or any list of things, write it down. If you go to an arena and want to remember how you did or better yet, how you could have done better, write it down. If you want to remember what the ground was like and how you could have ridden accordingly, write it down. You can hear something and remember 10 percent of it. You can see something and remember 10 percent of it. But, if you write it down, you will remember so much more.
First off, do you have the right horse for the right rider? Does your experience match his? Does his style match yours? Now I do not necessarily mean the most expensive horse either. We all have a budget. I would however, recommend that you take someone with a lot of experience with you when you go looking for that RIGHT horse. An inexperienced rider should have a very experienced and somewhat older horse. A calm and quiet rider can handle a hotter or free running horse. An aggressive rider needs a horse that can take a lot of pushing and has a lot of rate. I have found you can learn as much from a horse as you can from a person. But, if you periodically get some professional help with your horse, you can make sure that you are learning good habits and not perfecting bad ones.