the First Barrel
races are won because a horse left the first barrel hard and headed straight for
the pocket on the second barrel. You know that the shortest distance between two
points is a straight line. In barrel racing, I call this line the “fast
a horse will push off and leave barrel one with both hind feet coming together,
getting a straight, hard push forward. This is fastest. In this issue of America’s Barrel Racer, let’s look at some of the situations
that can cause you to lose valuable time when leaving the first barrel.
the first barrel really wide causes you to have more ground to cover to get back
to the “fast track.”
can be caused by going into the barrel too close; this will almost always cause
a horse to come off wide. There are exceptions, but horses have to give ground
somewhere in their turns. If they give that ground on the coming out side
(backside) of a barrel, they will make a wide pocket on that side. When moving
at a high speed, the momentum carries them sideways toward the entrance gate.
Then the rider is working all the way across to the second barrel to line back
can also be caused by turning the barrel with the horse’s front end too close
to the barrel and the hind quarters swinging out. This causes what we call
“eggbeating” and can produce a slow turn. The horse will actually come off
the barrel with the hind feet way out to the side of the front feet (two
tracking). Instead of having a horse run fast and straight across the pen, you
will have one go slower because its back feet are not lined up with the front
sure that when you leave the barrel you do not balance on the horse’s mouth by
balancing on your reins. This is evident when you see a rider come off the
barrel with the horse’s head straight in the air and the reins tight. A horse
cannot use his neck to pull himself forward: When this is happening make sure
that you release your horse in time. To do this will allow your horse to leave
hard and effortlessly.
there can be a problem of a saddle that does not fit or even causes a health
problem. Check to make sure you can get your hand under the front of your saddle
when you lean forward. If you cannot, you could be pinching your horse’s
withers with your saddle.
horse has left the barrel fast and hard before and you begin to notice he is
coasting, there are two things on a medical note you can check immediately. Have
his blood count checked by your veterinarian. Also, scoping his lungs after a
run can help detect blood or an infection that is causing him a shortage of air.
horses just really need to be hustled off the barrel. There are some aids that
you can use to move your horse forward fast. Three key aids are your body –
move you body forward and hustle with your outside leg; your mouth – make a
kissing noise with your lips in order to hustle your horse; and a bat – if you
try to speed up your horse with a bat, make sure you bat in rhythm as the hind
feet are ready to push off.
you must identify what causes you slowness and correct it. Video taping, a
ground man and a good vet are a few things that can help you to get on the
winning side of barrel racing.