Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weekend Clinic

sorry there are no photos to accompany this :(
I really enjoyed the clinic this weekend. Things were kept simple and basic, but the drills (or stations) were things that were helpful and also were ones that I'll be able to set up at home and practice.
The first day we started off introducing ourselves and our horse, giving a bit of background on the training/competing level of both. Then we took turns going through the barrels 3 times each with KB watching but not commenting until we were done.
The first time through was at a jog, the second was at a lope or run (depending on where your horse is at in training, there were some totally green horses there) and then the third time was at a walk. KB likes to finish at a walk so that the horse doesn't get sour or feel too pressured.
After that KB pointed out what she liked and what she thought each horse/rider needed to work on.
I knew what one of my major 'fixes' would be, finishing 2nd. I didn't realize that my set up for 3rd was as bad as it was (I knew it needed work but I didn't realize quite how much!) I also hadn't noticed that I was getting into a very bad habit of looking down. Not just at the barrels either, but looking down A LOT during my riding! :o (baaaaad Lisa!)
One drill that I found very difficult the first day was the circle with two barrels. KB used cones to mark a circle with two barrels across from each other. The idea was to lope (or trot) a circle around the cones and when you get to the barrel you lope a nice, smooth circle around the barrel. Not a wide pocket, come out narrow like a barrel turn. A nice CIRCLE. (circles are my nemesis!) To make matters even better (yes that's sarcasm) we started to the right. To the right I flat out could NOT do it the first day (we repeated it the second day and I did it!) To the left was better but not great (again on the second day it was better).
Another drill I found useful was the four barrels. The barrels were set up in a square. You ride to the middle to start. To go right you ride up the middle and to the right making a right hand circle around the top barrel. When you come out of the circle you'll be on the inside of the barrel. You ride straight across to the top left barrel and make a right circle around it. Again you come out on the inside, now you ride down to the bottom left barrel, turn right, come out on the inside and ride straight across to the bottom right barrel. Right hand turn, come out on inside and proceed back to your first barrel (the top right).
Wow, that sounds confusing! I really wish I had a diagram for that! lol
The easy way to say it is that you turn all barrels in the same direction, coming out on the inside of the square for each one and proceed on to the next.
Another four barrel drill had the four barrels set in an offset square (kind of like the "zipper" exercise) You enter the pattern and turn right, run across to the next barrel and turn left, run across to the next barrel and turn right, finish by turning the last barrel left.
With these exercises KB was able to point out better positioning for our horses, better hand positions for the riders. Little tweaks like exactly when to look for that next barrel.
By the end of the second day my second barrel was being finished better and more consistently, my third had improved dramatically and I was looking UP and AHEAD! I was very pleased to have KB tell me she liked my hands but not too surprised to hear that I need to work on my confidence.
I really liked that KB was very down to earth. This is a lady who has raced at all levels, from our little provincial club up to pro (she's even been to the Calgary Stampede) She is very much in favour of training your own horse and working your way up. After all we all have little (sometimes teeny) differences in our riding that may make one smokin' hot horse not work that great for the next person.


  1. sounds like you had a lot of fun. and yes, i had to read the directions a couple of times to get it...

  2. What an excellent idea to attend a barrel racing clinic. I had no idea there were such things. Cool!
    I can imagine how helpful it is to have someone objective AND experienced critique you and your horse, too.


  3. I actually understood the pattern. To reverse that pattern, all you need to do is start with the upper left barrel to upper right, to lower right, to lower left. I keep saying I want to try some barrels with Poco. He is so easily bored and I think he might like it. It would also be good for me as I work on my communications skills.

  4. Glad to hear that you had a productive clinic! That will really help you going into your races this year! I hope that spring comes soon so you can practice more...

    KB sounds like a good teacher - being able to help without criticizing is a skill some coaches just don't have, sadly.

  5. Glad to hear that you had a productive clinic! That will really help you going into your races this year! I hope that spring comes soon so you can practice more...

    KB sounds like a good teacher - being able to help without criticizing is a skill some coaches just don't have, sadly.

  6. That sounds fantastic. What a great educational time for you guys! Sounds like you got a lot of info that is going to make this season that much better too!!

    You go girl! ;)

  7. Ummmm...okay, I'm a dummy, I had to draw a diagram...but I got it.

    Hey, I will be trying that, sounds like a good exercise.

    I too get into a bad habit of looking down. Too much time spent riding green horses and not enough time competing-LOL. Bad habits just creep up on us all the time don't they?

  8. That sounds really neat I liked reading about the different exercises - the circle one is similar to something we in the pleasure world! Imagine that. Bet it has the same benefits too.

    I could've sat that and watched you guys all day...

  9. I have to add to Stephanie's comment and say the same for reining, a pattern much the same was used during a demo by Stacy Westfall at a horse expo last year!

  10. Sounds like a great clinic! Glad you got to go and soak up info! Those patterns/exercises sound great. I don't run barrels per say, but I do dabble at the play days! I always like to try and learn new things, you never can know too much about horses. And I love for my horse to be diviersifed and be able to do alittle bit of everything.
    Great post, glad you are back, we have missed ya!


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