If you’re trying to hone your craft in training barrel horses, you know they have a reputation of being feral and high-strung. In reality, barrel horses simply need the right trainer to maximize their strengths and give them the discipline and routine they need to succeed. With the right approach, training barrel horses is a rewarding experience and offers an incredible sense of accomplishment and bond with your horse. As professionals in training barrel horses, here are some of our best tips from the team at Between the Reins.

Use a Cone Method

Sometimes visualization can make all the difference in training barrel horses successfully. As the name implies, the cone method involves placing three cones around each barrel to help refine your approach and turn. Now that you have visual markers, you can anticipate how to adjust your speed and pinpoint precisely when you need to turn.

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Rein in the Speed

When you’re training barrel horses, you need to learn to rate and teach your horse to shorten his stride. Otherwise, your horse is unlikely to make its turn without stumbling or missing it altogether. Try loping and then slowing to a trot before your horse reaches the first barrel.

Stay in Control

When you’re training barrel horses, it’s essential to stay in control and be the leader for your horse. You are in the driver’s seat and in control of your horse. Focus on being more intentional with adjusting your posture, using the reins to make adjustments, and ensuring your horse is appropriately framed and balanced between your reins will help reinforce your training and the rate. They will also take your cues from you when you lean, change your posture, and how you’re shifting your weight, which also informs how horses learn to rate.  

Stop Your Horse

There’s more to work on with speed than slowing down and making adjustments. It’s also important to completely stop the horse when it’s even with the barrel. The goal is to teach the horse to rate and use his hind end when making the turn around the barrel. 

Finish Your Barrel Turn

Once your horse has completely stopped, try walking him around the barrel to further his perception of rating and using his hind end. Slowing down allows the horse to understand the barrel, area, and what’s expected instead of always approaching it at high speed.

Mix Things Up

Training barrel horses helps establish a routine for your horse and requires mixing things up from time to time. Although your techniques and structure don’t change, you should still change the pattern, so your horse doesn’t become too attached to the barrels. Changing the order of your workout with your horse, when you train, and where you place the barrels can all help get your horse out of its comfort zone.

Continue Your Education on Training Barrel Horses

Training barrel horses is rooted in best practices and tried and proper techniques but also evolves. Even the pros are always learning new tips and resources that work for them and make training barrel horses more efficient and effective. Continue your education with a membership with Between the Reins for expert videos and training materials.