Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

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KathyK
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Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby KathyK » Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:24 am

I have a friend who does barrel racing with her cute young mare. Being the intelligent person she is, she has come to realize that some dressage training will help them both, and has asked me to give her some lessons. (I will not let her pay and therefore won't jeopardize my amateur status.) I don't have much experience teaching, and have never taught this kind of lesson.

The mare is well muscled and, as you might expect, built quite downhill. She's a bit post legged and doesn't step underneath much, mostly because she hasn't been asked to. So I'm tossing around ideas in my head about what to do. We'll be using the western saddle and a snaffle bit. Since this will be the first "lesson," I thought I'd start by trying to get a little more activity behind and introduce the concept of inside leg to outside rein. Due to the constraints of the area we can work in, we'll be working only at the walk and trot. I'm thinking starting with spiraling-in and -out, and then some walk/trot transitions, and transitions within the gaits.

Does this sound reasonable? Too much? Not enough? Wrong direction? Any help will be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby Flight » Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:39 am

I think that sounds reasonable. I've helped a couple of friends and I found I wanted to try and tell/change too much at once. So, play it a bit by ear at the start and keep it fairly simple.

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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby LeoApp » Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:15 pm

So I am going to assume she will not be neck reining. With these Western trained horses, you have to see first if the horse will even accept contact. I would start with that and see how the horse goes into contact.
Definitely transitions to get her to step under more. Bending lines for inside leg to outside rein.

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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby StraightForward » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:50 pm

I would expect the horse to be pretty stiff and crooked, so I would probably work more on suppleness and balance, riding figure 8's, shallow loops and serpentines accurately, and not worry too much about longitudinal balance and impulsion at the moment. It will take some time to loosen up stiff crooked muscles to allow for better bending. Not all barrel racers are created equal, but I would be very surprised if the horse could properly bend on a circle and not fall in/out. Remember that the rider is going to be learning at the same time, and will need to develop the feel for her horse's crookedness.
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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby Kirby's Keeper » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:55 pm

Straightness and being able to control the shoulders are key to barrel racing. Work on lateral supplying on bending lines, leg yielding including doing the stair step leg yield while ensuring the shoulders remain upright. I would work in walk mostly to begin to promote relaxation and to allow horse and rider to process things. Riding on contact shouldn't be an issue with a barrel horse.
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KathyK
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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby KathyK » Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:03 pm

Great, great, great! Keep them coming!

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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby heddylamar » Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:20 pm

Mom ended up with a former barrel horse after her oldster passed away this fall. The new guy is learning how to stretch, suppleness, leg yield, and to go forward at the walk and trot. He's great at things like turn on forehand/haunches, it's the stepping under and relaxation that are a challenge.

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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby blob » Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:54 pm

If the goal is to use the dressage training to improve the barrel racing, you probably need to be mindful of not doing things that will be contradictory to the aids she needs.

I think getting the horse more balanced on turns by getting better bend through the body is probably beneficial, as are exercises that increase shoulder control as Kirby's keeper mentioned.

I'd be careful about what kind of reinaids/contact you introduce. If the horse neck reins and needs to continue to do so for the barrel ring, that might be something you want to make sure isn't taken away or confused.

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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby Ponichiwa » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:14 pm

I was going to mention turns on the haunches and turns on the forehand-- these are classic "barrel racer" exercises that help standing up the shoulders (which is key to not knocking over barrels), as well as getting the hind end under. I'd approach them from the walk and turn a 20m or 15m circle into a square, alternating between TOH and TOF as needed.

The biggest issue in the local barrel horse circuit is "rating". So transitions are invaluable, but only if they are executed in a calm and measured way. Generally these horses don't need much of a pep up and are already wound a bit tight, so consider putting trot/walk/trot or trot/halt transitions in the same place on the circle several circles in a row to take some of the tension out of the equation.

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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby LeoApp » Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:58 pm

I have ridden many, many horses both english and Western I have found that the neck reining horses are fine with the split rein. It's the horses that don't know how to neck rein that have a problem learning how to neck rein. :)

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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby Ryeissa » Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:51 pm

Western dressage associations might have some further insights since they cater to the QH and many people have been really happy in that vein.

Focus on tempo and straightness. Contact might be challenging- I'd want to know the rider was in it for the long haul and really serious- I have had frustration when owners dabbled in it but did not reinforce these basics and the horse was confused by the mix and match ideas.

I would not worry about inside leg to outside rein till you had a good tempo, straightness and seat control. To me that is the second rung, not the first. Start slow and temper the expectations. (I have ridden a very fun third level QH but it's all about the commitment from the owner to make it successful- they do awesome in dressage given the right approach- as a breed they kick butt- I know a couple really successful ones but they were training for a couple of years at least)

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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby KathyK » Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:39 pm

Right now my friend isn't interested in dressage as an end, but as a means to a better horse in general. She's knows that basic dressage is good for all horses.

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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby Ryeissa » Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:05 am

KathyK wrote:Right now my friend isn't interested in dressage as an end, but as a means to a better horse in general. She's knows that basic dressage is good for all horses.


yeah, but my comments were directed at this- just be sure they are on board with the approach- I ran into problems with owners at intro and training levels- even here the aids and way of going is influenced

KathyK
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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby KathyK » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:28 am

Ah, I get it now. Thanks.

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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby Ryeissa » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:07 pm

Did you start yet? How is it going?

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Re: Barrel Racing friend wants some dressage

Postby KathyK » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:38 pm

I just got home from the lesson. The mare is a real trier and can get a bit anxious and hot, so we worked mainly on relaxation and on Friend learning to keep the leg on softly all the time. Lots of transitions from the seat, not worrying about how long they took, but keeping a steady, light contact and quiet legs. There wasn't enough room to do much leg yielding, so we explored straightness and using the outside rein to keep the shoulders from falling out. It was good!

Unfortunately, Friend lives an hour and a quarter away, so we can't do it frequently, but she understands that relaxation and straightness are the most important things and she knows how to work on them.

Thanks again for everyone's help!


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