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Competition

Mer from Canada, writes:

Dear Sharon,

My gelding is lazy! He is very calm, easy going and thinks he is on a joy ride as we run to the 1st barrel! He is a consistent 2D horse and kicks it into gear coming off the 1st barrel. I have tried long warm-ups, short warm-ups, no warm-up. Still he just lopes to the 1st barrel. How can I get him running? I know he has more in him. Thanks!

Dear Mer,

Not a big worry until you have tried a few of my suggestions. Calm and easy going is nice for a trail horse. Also traits I like for a barrel horse, as long as when I ask for the next gear I can get it. Work on variegating the speed of your practice and your warm-up. At home, work your horse at an approximate 5 mph lope, increase to 7 mph, to 10 mph to 15, then back to 5 mph. Any time you ask your horse to move out and he resists, squeeze your legs, kiss or cluck and then immediately pick up and USE your over-under. If the over-under is a problem, practice on your saddle straddling a bale of hay. Get handy with the tool, as it will be critical in waking up your horse to respond to your legs and voice commands for increased speed and response.

I would also suggest once or twice a month that you sprint your horse, on a track or flat surface, similar to how racehorses are worked. Walk one mile, long trot ¼ of a mile, lope ¼ of a mile before galloping. Make the sprint approximately100 yards. A good 20-minute cool-off is important here. You may also increase the caloric intake to mentally increase your horse’s energy level. I have found that an oat based feed; at least 14-16% protein makes a horse on the higher side.

Your pre-competition warm-up should take at least 25 minutes; it takes this long to get the tendons and ligaments warmed up, muscles loosened and blood circulating. 90% of your warm-up at a walk, in order to get the blood flowing, muscles loose and relaxed, and the horses mind calm. 5% of the warm-up is at the jog and extended trot in order to relax tendons, ligaments and muscles, and will help get your horse to listen to you through extension and collection exercises. 2% of the warm-up is at a lope, AND make sure to add a sprint in the warm-up.

Remember when you ask for forward impulsion and movement, and GET it! Your over-under is a great piece of training equipment.

When the announcer calls your name and you approach the alleyway for your run, keep your horse moving forward, keep contact on the reins and a good over-under at hand to race his engines.

Ride hard and go make your run,

Sharon