The A.R.T. of Barrel Racing


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Stacie from Colorado, writes:

Dear Sharon,

I am very interested in learning how to barrel race and have a horse that I think would be a quick learner. I have an arena that my neighbor lets me use as well. My horse is a paint horse; he isn't the tallest but he has the heart. So my question is about what kind of tack I should get before I start training him for barrel racing. I have watched people barrel race before but I have never done it. Is it OK to teach my horse by myself so that I get the way he runs to fit they way that I do it, or should I have someone else train him?

Dear Stacie,

Thank you for sharing your questions with me. Let me begin by saying that barrel racing is a sport and not a style of riding.

When you look at training your horse, begin by looking at his overall training, balance and responsiveness. I believe in horsemanship as the way to achieve your goals in the sport of barrel racing. Once your horse has the fundamentals, then think about his education on the barrel pattern.

I would encourage you to purchase my Western Horseman book, The ART of Barrel Racing or any of my training DVDs. My training material talks about all aspects of training including skill building exercises, training and competitive equipment, elements of the pattern and how to identify problems and apply specific corrections.Use my website and read through the training articles and other Ask Sharon questions and answers. You should find something helpful for you as you begin your training.

Barrel horses come in all shapes and sizes. My advice is to make the horse the best he can be by providing for his basic education and he will perform to his best on the pattern. There are no guarantees, but my hope is to provide training that promotes physical and mental health for the horse so he stays calm and confident.
If you have an opportunity to attend one of my clinics it would be a pleasure to have you as a student.

Best of success,