Barrel racing is a sport that wasn’t always as widely popular as it is today. It was a sport invented by some women who needed something competitive to pass their time. So they designed a cloverleaf-shaped course by placing some barrels, and the goal was to see who could complete the course on a horse the fastest. And hence the sport was born.
The barrel racing of today has become far more complex than a simple obstacle course. Riding a horse that is fast is not enough for you to win the event. Today, barrel racing is an event that requires intense practice both on the part of the rider as well as the horse.
The Objectives of Training:
- The basic idea behind training your horse for barrel racing is that, by the end, it should know how to go from a walk to a trot, to a lope and back to a walk and being itself to a stop after that. These transitions are one of the fundamental aspects of barrel racing.
- The second important objective is to make sure that your horse is able to stay balanced while turning the barrels. Barrel racing horses have to be supple and athletic in order to compete.
- First of all, any rider should be ready for their horse to be tense at first, especially if their horse is young. Training a horse to be comfortable with barrel racing practice takes a lot of patience on the rider's part.
- To make one's horse comfortable with the idea of barrel racing, one should start by walking their horse through the course.
- After the horse gets accustomed to the course, start practicing stopping your horse about 10 feet before each barrel by the reins. Repetition is key to make horses learn a course quickly, so doing this again and again will let it know that this is your rate point where it has to slow down automatically.
From a Walk to a Trot:
- After your horse has gotten used to the course and knows where it has to slow down, you can start trotting the pattern.
- While at this stage, try other things as well to make sure your horse does not get bored with the routine. Take a trot outside the course or take slow trots around the track.
Speed It Up:
- Now you can start loping the barrels. Make sure not to pressurize your horse and give it the time it needs to get used to the speed.
- Gallop only if you are sure that your horse is ready for it. Don’t rush anything because it can lead to injuries as well as damaging yours and your horse's confidence.
- Ask someone to watch you practice or make videos of your runs so you can be sure that your horse has learnt the transitions and is performing the variations in speed by itself.
Make Safety a Priority:
- Always use safety equipment like a breast collar for better grip.
- Wear a helmet and gloves while also putting proper safety gear on your horse.
- Do not try high speeds unless you are completely ready for it.
Barrel racing practice isn’t something you can get done with in a day or two. It requires patience and hard work over extended periods of time. Make sure you give everything the due time it deserves, because otherwise you will end up ruining your horse's confidence and that is one thing which is very hard to reinstate in a horse. Keep it a fun activity, both for yourself and for your horse, and you can be sure to turn yourselves into a competitive barrel racing team.