Cross Training your Barrel Racing Mount

Today’s guest post comes from Brittany:

“Brittany Lambert owns and operates Wishing Winds Ranch. Brittany was born in 1985 and fell in love with horses at the age of 3.  She began her real riding career at the age of 7 when she started taking lessons and showing in the childrenโ€™s hunter divisions.  At the age of 9 Brittany purchased her first horse.  She trail rode and competed at local shows in the jumping, western pleasure, and trail classes.  In 1998, Brittany found her true passion, barrel racing.  She was given the amazing opportunity to purchase Benita Bar Star(Buddy).  That horse jump started her career.  Brittany and Buddy qualified for every Youth World Championship and Open World Championship show from 1999 until 2003 when Buddy was retired.  In 2000, Brittany and Buddy won the South Carolina Youth State Championship.  In 2001, the pair won the NBHA Youth World Teen Division Championship, and in 2002 the pair won again at the Dixie National Show.  Brittany has also had much success with her current mount Abuleos Legacy.  He was the horse that earner her a college rodeo scholarship.  Last year, Brittany took a break from her barrel racing career when her main mount was hurt and went back to her roots.  She began working for a dressage and hunter jumper trainer riding Warmbloods.  Over the years, Brittany has trained horses and riders that are now competitive in eventing, college rodeo, junior rodeo, professional rodeos, and local horse shows.” 
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With the recent Olympic games and all the hype about the sport of dressage I figured I would talk about something that I use in my training program quite often. I train barrel horses. Most people think all you need for barrels is a horse that can run. This is NOT my belief. Yes, run is important but in my opinion run is nothing without control. I want to know I can put my horse anywhere I want him at any speed I want before I ever start showing a horse the barrel pattern. I also use some cross training with my finished horses in order to give them a break and keep them from getting burnt out.

Most people do not know that I started riding english several years ago and as recently as college I worked for an english trainer.  She taught me so much and you would not believe how much my times improved just by working on my horsemanship. I urge all my students to ride english and western and do some cross training even if you do not change your saddle. A well trained horse is a well trained horse it does not matter if you are going to jump a cross country course, run barrels, trail ride, or do dressage.

 

Can you name on part of a lower level dressage test that is not used during a barrel race? I can’t. Let me break down a test for you and show you how and where that manuever could be helpful in your barrel pattern.

Here are the elements that make up theTraining Level Test 1 Dressage test. This is a low level test, but this test has several elements that barrel horses need to be able to do to compete successfully. You can always find a higher level test and give it a try if you would really like to test you and your horse.

 

A
X

Enter working trot
Halt, Salute
Proceed working trot
2
C
E
Track left
Circle left 20m
3
Between K & A
Working canter left lead
4
B
Circle left 20m
5
Between centerline & B
Working Trot
6
C
Medium walk
7
HXF
F-A
Free walk
Medium walk

 
8
A
Working Trot
9
E
Circle right 20m
10
Between H & C
Working canter right lead
11
B
Circle right 20m
12
Between centerline & B
Working trot
13
A
X
Down centerline
Halt, Salute
Leave Arena at A in walk on a long rein

 

The first element is to trot in, you should be able to take your barrel horse and trot right down the alleyway on your way to run. Yes, some horses get hot going in the gate but it should be controllable. I like to get all my horses going at a nice trot and head to the alleyway about halfway down the alleyway I will ask my horse. You need your horse to be controllable going in the gate so that you can focus on the job at hand. You do not need to be worried about your horse being an idiot going in the gate. Next, you make a circle. Circles are so important in barrel racing. You would not believe the number of people that cannot make a pefect circle on their horse. Then you pick up a canter and do another circle. Then you do a downward transition to trot and then a walk. You need to be able to make clean transitions on your horse in order to have a successful pattern. Having clean transitions will allow you to have a nice rate when you get to your barrel and it will also help your horse get back to full speed quickly after a turn. Then you do more upward tranistions back to trot and then canter. You also do more circles. Then you come down the centerline and halt. After you leave the third barrel you want to come right down the centerline and halt when you get out of the arena. You want to really focus on straightness between your barrels as well as coming home. The shortest and quickest distance between two points is a straight line. A horse that runs straight is much easier to get set up for your next barrel and will be faster than a horse that zig zags. Finally, you halt. It drives me insane to see a horse come out of the arena and not stop until they get back to the trailer. This is dangerous. You should be able to stop your horse anytime you need to no matter what the situation is.

There are several other dressage test that can get much more difficult than this. I am not asking my horses to learn passage and piaffe but I do like my horse to be able to perform several movements that are found in higher level tests too.

I hope after reading this, you will seriously consider doing some cross training and give your horse a little break from just looking at barrels. Remeber if something is boring for you, it is boring for your horse too. Always try to change things up so neither one of you get burnt out. Hope this helps and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

P.s. Don’t miss out on the other guest posts lined up for this week! Sign up now to recieve new posts in your inbox or download my RSS feed to your reader. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Raquel
    August 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Great post Brittany, I couldn’t agree more! I used to do dressage (only at a 4-H level) back in the day but I believe versatility is key! The movement & motions used in dressage are great for keeping your horse legged up & doing “barrel moves” without thinking they are. Right now I’m been working on backing in circles & a lot of trotting up hills to strengthen my mare’s hindquarters.
    Raquel recently posted..Red Lucchese Cowboy BootsMy Profile

  • Reply
    AmyLou
    August 21, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Great post!

  • Reply
    Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas Part 1 | The North Carolina Cowgirl
    August 28, 2012 at 8:16 am

    […] Cross Training your Barrel Horse by Brittany […]

  • Reply
    Nwosu Desmond
    September 8, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Quite an interesting readโ€ฆi like your angle on it. This is definitely an eye opener. Thanks for bringing it to my notice. Nice blog thoughโ€ฆ

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