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Problem-specific Corrections

Giolisa from Veraguas, Panama writes:

Dear Sharon,

What would make my barrel horse stop on the backside of the barrel? I have had his teeth checked and changed bridles. This only happens on the first barrel and only when I add speed.

Dear Giolisa,

I have been in Panama and it is a beautiful country! There are actually many things that could cause your horse to approach the first barrel and stop or stall out on the backside of the turn. As long as you are sure your horse is sound, you must then make sure he is balanced. I would work through this issue with a Sweet Six snaffle bit complimented with a German Martingale, like the one I show in my book, The A.R.T. of Barrel Racing. This training equipment will help rebalance you horse so he can approach in a straight line to your pocket point, shorten his stride in order to prepare for the turn (rate), and lastly drive forward from his hind end to push fluidly through the turn.

I perceive that what is happening is that you are running your horse to the pocket point and asking for the turn without implementing rate. Rate is the shortening of the stride that will enable your horse to balance and drive through the turn. If you are running up and only using the inside rein to cue for your turn, you could be throwing your horse off balance and stalling his front end. You need to use equal pressure on both reins to achieve your balanced rate before you ask for the turn. Also make sure your horse is on his correct lead in his approach to the first barrel.

A couple of additional suggestions: Try a bit for competition that will not slow down his front end too much. Suggestions would be Reinsman’s #732, Touch Plus, or the #723 Ultra Correction. If you prefer a bit with less gag, check out the #733.

If you do not have my book The A.R.T. of Barrel Racing, I would suggest you get it and read through it. Especially the section on Rate and the skill exercise we call the “All Right and All Left,” and the “Cork Screw.” These exercises are designed to get your horse moving freely forward, in a supple relaxed manner.

Remember, Giolisa, that a balanced rider produces a balanced horse. Utilize your sequencing of ques to help your horse understand what it is you are asking of him. This is especially important when speed is added. Remember to use your seat, leg and hand aids to communicate with your horse.

Warm regards,

Sharon