Preferences, Passions and Principles

People who get involved in the barrel racing industry often express to me that they get confused by all the different styles and methods involved in the training and showing of barrel horses.  There are so many articles written on how to train horses and much of the information is conflicting or opposing. 

To sort this out for my customers and students, I tell them to consider this:

Preferences:   There are many things in the barrel horse world that are simple preferences.  The saddle you ride must fit you and your horse and put you in a position to gather, turn and run without making your horseís back sore.   It must enable you to be balanced at all points from the beginning of the race to the stopping point.  What brand and type of saddle you use is your own preference.  There is not ONE brand that is the only kind that might fit your preference. 

The kind and color of splint boots that you use is a preference.  The type of reins,saddle pad, breast collar and headstall you use is also something I would place under preferences.  (I see people using tassels on their headstalls that bounce into the horseís eye during the runs- I would call that a preference that hinders a performance.)  But, that is their preference in headstall decorations.  What about all the different brands of horse shoes?   What about all the theories of horse shoeing?  These are also listed under the preference column as long as it is enhancing your performance and not hindering it. 

Tie-downs can be very controversial.  I have seen articles written that say a horse cannot turn as fast with a tie-down and have seen articles written that a horse can balance better with a tie-down that is set correctly.  Again, looking at the NFR over the years, you will see a split in preference on this subject.  Sometimes it is about half and half.   

Preferences are a matter of choice and as long as it is not hindering your performance or costing you time, these are simple matters of what you like the best.   

Principles:   Principles are something that I am passionate about.  I am passionate about making sure that the horses that I train and handle are never put into a compromising position that could cause injury or pain. I am passionate about training horses that last a long time and perform until they are ready to retire.  I think that there are many programs today that produce horses that have no longevity.  Drugs, training and pushing horses beyond their capabilities will shorten their longevity. 

 I never want to see a horse being beaten and will refuse to work with a student that takes their frustrations out on the horse by jerking and whipping it when a mistake is made.  I donít like to see horses pushed beyond their mental capacities and asked to do things that they are not ready to do.  I dislike seeing horseís mouths all pinched and bloody Ė in fact, I donít want to see any blood anywhere on the horse. 

 One thing that I am very passionate about is seeing a horse pulled up and beaten and jerked in competition.  I believe that we should have rules to expel that person from competing.  I am passionate about policing ourselves so that we never give any ground to groups that are animal radicals.  (You could even call me radical on this subject and I have written letters to associations this past year to turn in anyone that I see doing this.) 

I am passionate about the care of the animal.  I am speaking of regular shots, worming, food, clean water, clean stalls and proper tooth and foot care.  I believe that a horse that feels good and knows what you want from him- will be simple to train.  I am not saying that every horse will make a barrel horse Ė but every horse has a place and a use and is worth something to someone. 

Any method of training that produces good horses with longevity is a good program.  You just have to find a style that fits you and that you like and go with it.  All you have to do is watch people that have good horses year after year after year.  And when they didnít have a good one, they made one that was decent in that year.  We donít always have champions each year Ė but a solid program that works with the horse will always produce nice horses and great ones when they come into that program. 

So Ė donít be confused by all the things you see and hear.  Just sort it out by preferences and principles.  I have changed preferences over the years on some things, but my principles are something that will never change and I will always stand up for the horse. My Bible tells me that the righteous man has a regard for his beast.  I not only have great regard for my horses, but love them and the lifestyle that they have allowed me to live.  They have taught me many lessons over the years and I have come to realize how very smart and sensitive they are.  Itís up to us to set our principles high and stand up for anything that is good for the horses and stand against anything that is not.

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Copyright © 2004 - 2011 Joyce Loomis-Kernek
Last modified: January 05, 2014