10 Tips for Better Barrel Racing

You may think that barrel racing is all about speed. And it is a timed event at Heavenly Acres. We all know the fastest time wins. But to make those winning races with your horse it takes a lot of practice slowing down.

The key to success is to go slow. Slow your hands, slow your training, and make use of slow rehearsals to balance the fast pace of competition.

Most people don’t understand this when they begin to compete in barrel racing events. They just think about the time. By following the tips outlined here you can improve your time and help your horse get the confidence he needs to be faster in the competitions.

1. Understanding the turns and pace of the race so well that you don’t teach inaccurate habits to your horse is key. Following the correct pattern, feeling when to sit down for a transition, knowing where to look, and how to navigate the arena are all necessary for winning times.
2. Keep to a training and practice routine and teach correct patterns to the horse. To win, you need to keep your horse on a practice routine that he can learn with step by step skill levels that he can accomplish. Success is helping your horse reach his top level of performance. When your horse is racing at his best with no bad habits or constant errors, he is a success in timed events. The skills you teach and the physical stamina of your horse will determine whether he will be a big winner. If you do your training correctly, he’ll have the most success.
3. You want your horse to learn the fundamentals so that the commands like “whoa” work as well fast as when you go slow. Teaching the pattern with the commands given is the goal. Problems can be corrected easier when the basics are second nature to the horse and rider.
4. As the horse gains confidence increase the speed to the next level. If mistakes are made go back until the performance is consistent then speed it up again. The speed can only be increased as the horse can handle it successfully.

5. Proper training of your horse means doing the run the same way every time. This creates a pattern in the mind of your horse and he will be able to perform at his best.
6. Not only must your horse be trained with the same moves, so should you. Ride the same way slow and fast. Positioning in the saddle and reins should remain constant and not change.
7. Look for and correct any mistake before it becomes a bad habit.
8. Your horse will tell you what’s wrong by the way he behaves. If he refuses to perform today like he did yesterday check for pain in his mouth, or if he may be getting lame. Check your saddle for anything broken. Listen to your horse and try to figure out what the problem may be.
9. Know that different surroundings can unnerve a horse. Give him time to get used to unfamiliar arenas or new patterns.
Your horse needs to gain confidence before he can win.
10. Try to calm down yourself so you don’t transfer your nerves to your horse. Breathe deeply and relax and so will your mount.
A lot of riders don’t realize the importance of knowing the basics in order to be faster later on. Train your horse for the long term in mind. You want your horse as calm and confident as possible. Timed events can be a long term career for your horse if he is trained correctly.
Being the rider is a big responsibility. If you’re not as fast in your events as you would like. Go back to the training basics and correct the mistakes. It can be done with communication and proper leadership from you.

Ronnie and Cheryl Mullis have a special call to minister to young people. In 2009 they incorporated Heavenly Acres in Screven, Georgia. Screven is a small Southeast Georgia town of about 2000, located near tobacco and onion growing farmland.

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