Beginning at a Walk
Before you start your practice
Before starting all barrel practiced make sure that your warm your horse up and get rid of some of his energy so he is completely calm and listening to you the whole time. Never run a horse fresh! Meaning always make your horse do some kind of exercise before entering the ring for practice or competition. You do not want your horse to associate barrel with excitement because this will result in him misbehaving before you start your run or even during your run in the future. He will see the barrel and either want to go right away and start pushing forward or he will not want to go at all, refusing to walk through the gate.
Do not always do the same warm up each time! Go on a trail, long trot, canter or do a combination.
Walking The Pattern
The barrel pattern can either be ran starting from the right or left barrel. For training I like to practice both directions so that the horse gains muscles equally throughout their body.
When you approach your barrel (video example above)
- Walk to the barrel
- Stop your horse leaving about 4 feet between your horse and the barrel
- back your horse up a few steps
- Have him set his head
- Then ask him to walk around the barrel leaving about 4 feet around the whole thing
- Go around it about 4-5 times in the beginning, but as your horse advances you can lower the amount but always go around at least 2 times because it will teach your hose to finish his turns. Make sure he stays relatively the same distance around.
- Then head towards your second barrel repeating these steps
- Do the same for the third barrel
- Walk your horse to the fence when exiting the third barrel
Follow the steps listed above every time you practice barrels. I recommend practicing going both direction to ensure that your horse has equal muscle growth and it will help enhance both left and right turns. Practice about 4 times a week for 1 month making sure that you do trails or other things not involving barrels the other 3 days. Make sure you warm up you horse before you start your practice and do not always start with barrels. Begin your ride with a trail sometimes and them after go to the barrels or go to your barrels then go on a trail. Although horses like routines they will quickly tire of the same work over and over so mix it up. After about a month of walking give your horse a about a month off of barrels and do other things them after about a month go back to barrels and walk them again. If you feel that your horse remember walking the pattern and is ready for trotting them move him on. Watch the video above for an example of walking the barrel pattern. :)
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