Lets take this blog to the next level

If you have a photo of crappy show riding, know of a jerkwad trainer or judge, or someone in the show world that is an abusive piece of shit then send the info to me. This blog is not anti-showing, it's anti-abuse. So there is no truth to the claims from the TWH, ASB, western pleasure and dressage zombies that I'm trying to shut showing down. Instead I'm trying to make showing more honest and to get abusive practices out of the showring! Email me at shameinthehorseshowring@gmail.com

I have a request for my readers: If you have successfully rehabbed a show horse, or gotten a rescue and taken it on to a show career then let me know, I'd love to feature you here!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You can't out run stupid

Just when I think it might be safe to venture onto Youtube again I find these links. Barrel racing is one event I truly have a love hate relationship with. I love doing it myself. We grew up doing high school and Little Britches Rodeos and had a blast. A good barrel horse is a tremendous athlete and a poorly trained one is a catastrophic wreck waiting to happen. I hate seeing what the sport has become. It's less and less about riding and more and more about ruining good horses.

My first question about modern barrel racers is: When did knowing how to ride quit being a requirement of the sport? I’m not asking for stellar equitation, but I would like to see your ass in the saddle more than it is out of it. I’d like to see someone riding with their seat and quit hanging onto the reins like they’re a ski rope. HINT: If you keep pulling the reins it slows your horse down.

I’d also like to see horses rate without wearing bits that could be used to torture secrets out of a hardened spy. Whatever happened to running in snaffles? Or mild hackamores? Why these hack-a-gag-a-piece-of-shit bits?

Flog, flog, jerk, drag, flail, kick, jerk, bounce, bounce, flog some more, jerk and spur, turn too late, horse is a maniac in the aisle.

Yep, looks professional to me…not.

More of the same. The slow motion only accentuates the crappy hands and flogging feet. Does no one know how to sit quietly? I remember watching Wendy Newman set the world record in pole bending and she barely moved the entire ride. I don’t think her ass ever left the saddle and her horse, Cyclone, simply melted through the poles. She barrel raced much the same way.
What happened to quiet hands= quiet horse?

Here’s another hint for the can chasers: When your horse keeps plowing barrels because he’s dropping his shoulder in and pointing his nose out he’s telling you a few things: your hands suck, your seat sucks and you’ve over schooled the shit out of him.

Here’s another tip: If your boot toes are pointing at the ground then your ass is usually out of the saddle. Can no one run a horse and keep their heels down? I see ten year old pony club riders jumping courses and doing hunt paces and they never lift their heels. Yet mature “cowgirls” can’t make it to the first barrel without slamming their foot through the stirrup, dropping their toe and choking that horn like a 17 year old boy that has just discovered masturbation and online porn at the same time. It makes no sense at all.

And this kind of shit just pisses me off. If your horse is so burnt out that he does not want to go in the area then get him another job and be done with it. You haven’t handled him right or he wouldn’t be so fucked up. A good horse with a solid foundation can do speed events for years, provided you don’t beat the hell out of him at every run, or jerk his head off or hurt his back by bouncing around like a fat ass sack of meal. Your horse is refusing because you cause him pain every time you take him in the arena.

WTF is with all the bucking? Don’t you train your horse before actually running it in an event?
Most of these people deserve to be bucked off because they ride like shit and they’re stupid.

How can this sport gain respect when you have a section of participation that rides worse than Barbie on a Breyer and creates horses that become mentally unstable?


GoLightly said...

Holy good grief..

Poor horses. eeesh.

Funder said...

Wow. I am not a stellar rider but I'm certainly not as bad as those ladies.

I know this is the BAD example blog, but do you have any GOOD speed event videos?

Trojan Mouse said...


I use what is out there. I'll look through youtube, when I can master the gag reflex, and see if there are any good videos.

T Jean Maus

Kaede said...

I know nothing about western riding. But the hunt seat I did as a teen, we were told to get in two point if the horse was galloping. Is it even possible to get into a two point position in a stock saddle? If so, would it be desirable to do so while running barrels?
If not what is a desirable position to be in?

Kaede said...

OT, but I was looking at your polls, one question puzzled me a bit "Should the Saddlebred industry clean up its' act"? Did you mean the Saddleseat industry? which would include Arabians, Morgans and TWH as well as Saddlebreds or did you mistake Saddlebreds with TWH?
To my (limited) knowledge there hasn't been any wide spread abuse of show Saddlebreds. Lots in TWH of course.

GoLightly said...

I don't know why I try and watch the SHARK videos.

Isn't it time to stop this crap?

Can't we stop abusing these animals for fun?
Let's join in killing the bulls with Spain!
sickening, and disheartening.
Blood is still thrilling to some.

The "riding" in those barrel videos is just as sickening, just as disheartening. Those horses...

Oh, lord, please help the animals..

EveryoneThinksThey'reGoodDrivers said...

I am having computer difficulties and could not even see your videos.

But I really don't think I need to.

I see it in real life most weekends throughout the summer.

The nasty, derogatory comments said to horses whilst having difficulties speaks volumes of the inner workings of many people that "only" game.

I'm not sure what pisses me off more...the idea that just because you can stay on, means that you can ride. Or the idea that your performance is ALL horse and NO you.

I suppose they are closely related.

Someday, when I am done with this horse business, and just an owner of horses that enjoys riding. I am going to go to shows and start offering unsolicited advice whenever I see fit. I won't care the reaction, I won't care the circumstances and I won't care about minding my business. I will call it like I see it.

Look out, I'm saving it up.

Patricia said...

I barrel raced for ten years before starting the long road towards upper level dressage in college. I agree with all points here: hard hands, poor foot position in the stirrup, tucked chins, dropped shoulders, open thighs and knees, flogging feet, even their heads slam around!

I was fortunate to have a great reining trainer, who taught me the use of outside aides with a closed outside leg to support the horse, eliminating the need for a sharp jerk on the inside rein. I would love to pick up barrel racing again using the tools that I have now from learning heavy duty dressage for the past five years. Alas, my OTTB would never stand up to the sharp turns, but one day, when I'm more financially secure, I'd love to get a fixer-upper QH and do both dressage and barrels with him/her.

Enjay said...

I never barrel raced for anything other than fun at 4-H and I'm not even sure what the cues are supposed to be or what a well ridden round is supposed to look like. If you would kindly describe what they're supposed to be doing I'd greatly appreciate it.

photogchic said...

Stop, I mean go, I mean stop. Then spurring ridiculously hard...they know a horse can feel a fly land right? Slow and right beats fast and wrong barrel ladies...you look like fools. Shame on you for treating your horse like vehicles for a blue ribbon.

signedzani said...

One thing that i don't understand is that since all equine sports are potentially dangerous why don't people use helmets. I am from Europe and i am not saying that people ride with helmets here all the time either but during competition its a must. i don't find helmets ugly or unpleasant. so why don't we use them more?

and what happened to harmony with the rider and horse. i see lots of kicking, pulling, bad posture and anger in riding. what has happened to the enjoyment of this sport?

Nicely dun said...

Oh awesome a new post from TJM!

Funny how all of these things tie in so well with EVERYTHING that has to do with riding.
I frequent a forum that is blasted with kids and questions about barrel racing and why wont my horse BEND and why does he REAR and this and that and blah blah blah.

You make an awesome point. In a lot of those videos it looks like its their first time on a horse, flapping their legs???????
I will admit, I have NEVER barrel raced (save for at a fun show-but we did it at a trot) and I have a feeling I never will, I dont see myself whipping and flapping like a freaking moron just for the sake of speed, and driving my horse effing nuts.

Looks like a sad situation for a lot of those horses.

WiltedZebra said...

I openly admit that I am not a fan of speed events. From what I have seen, the participants all display the same tendancies as are displayed in these videos. I feel horrible for the horses, being hurt and afraid for most of your time with humans must be intolerable. I wish that there was a way to convince speed people (and WP, reining, etc) that a happy horse works harder, that a horse will run faster without so much interference from the rider and that above all, if you violate an animals trust repeatedly, it will have no desire to work for you at all and start doing whatever it can to escape. Even if that means injuring or killing itself. Some days I wonder if we can even salvage this industry from ourselves. This is one of those days.

texomamorganlady said...

thank you for the education, i have long been under the impression that the riders of barrel racers were supposed to look like wildly flailing chickens. knowing little about the sport, but seeing it frequently in this area, i thought that is just the way they look!

horsndogluvr said...

First tape: Girls, it *is* possible to teach your horses to run their fastest on cue. Did it ever occur to you that by flailing your legs and flopping your butt in the saddle, you’re actually slowing your horse down? D’oh!

And that one girl who flailed her horse into the ring and then yanked on its head going into the first barrel – stoopid! Teach your horse to associate the barrel with punishment!

Second tape: F’ crying out unprintably, you can teach your horse the pattern. You can teach your horse to be mindful of your feet, so you don’t hook the barrels with them. But, of course, teaching takes time and effort, as opposed to brute force.

Third tape: My, my. Three or four horses didn’t like being spurred. Big surprise, you’ve got a horse with sensitive sides. Deal with it. Others that bucked just wanted to run the pattern without their riders. (And, who can blame them?) The rest of the buckers just wanted nothing to do with the whole thing. And the slip-and-fall ones – learn to flex!

Last tape: All of the above.

I have a friend who trains barrel horses. He’s a darn good horseman. He advised my niece and her father to jog the barrels 20 times for every time you run them. He’s smart, and a real horse lover. He, like most of us here, knows that if you have a good relationship with your horse, that horse will kill itself trying to do what you want. And, if you don’t…

I’ve seen him barrel racing. No flopping, no yanking, no spurring; they were both having a good time.


Suzyn said...

Barrel racing done correctly is all about quiet concentration, total focus and harmony of horse and rider. Of course the ignorant spectators would probably be bored stiff without all the flailing, kicking, and potential wrecks.

IMHO the problem is that these are professionally trained horses bought by rich daddies who want their gals to live out their cowgirl fantasies without doing the actual work learning how to ride. Clearly they have no more regard for the horses than they would for a dirt bike or jet ski.

We saw this same thing during Youth Reining at Quarter Horse Congress a few years ago. Small children who would be better suited for a leadline or walk/trot class perched on professionally trained horses who had to run the pattern, babysit, and deal with the interference from the rider. It was pathetic. One little girl dropped her reins several times and still placed! We were so disgusted we left...was the judge sleeping?

While I think there is a tremendous value in working with a professional to train both horse and rider, I believe the people who do the work themselves should be recognized for their efforts or at least level the playing field.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Oh, boy. You just had to go there and stir up the barrel crowd again, didn't you? ROFL!

Seriously though, I'm trying to think of any other horse related sport where the use of such an array of cruel tack and equipment is marketed towards so many ammy's without a clue. The only one coming to mind- the big lick walking horse creatures.

If you can stick to the horse and they love to run- do barrels. This seems to be the mind set of many I have seen out there.

I know there are folks who do things right and do right by their horses. They are quickly becoming the minority though, in all things horse related.

SprinklerBandit said...

Does anyone else notice how many of those girls jam their feet through the stirrups and stab the horse with their spurs when they're trying to stay on? It just makes it worse; the poor horse is trying to get away from the pain in the first place.

Kaede said...

Ah I see what you me about the Saddlebred industry. My bad. I have just been going through old blog posts and came across the swayback one.

ZTIG said...

Ok, so I have an idea followed by a couple of questions for everyone. My sister and I have been talking about this off and on for the past year.

Most people with any sense hate the local gymkhana shows. Not because of the events but because of the abuse. Yet, most people with any sense have mentioned they would be interested in participating if there wasn't the abuse. So, what we have talked about is putting on a fun show and seeing what the response would be. However, rules would be strict. A one strike an you are off the property policy.
Possible rules:
Snaffle/Hackamore/Bitless only
No over unders
No whips
No spurs
No kicking (we would let you get away with the over excited one time kick. It happens, especially with kids. But none of this kick till the end)
Walk/trot/run levels in each event. If your riding ability is poor you are bumped to a lower level
One Refusal to enter ring come back in 15 min try again 2nd refusal take him home.

So here are my questions. Do you, those who abhor current standards, think this would be well received by those not currently participating for the previously stated reasons? (We really don't give a shit if we piss off abusers)
And two, are there any other rules or thoughts you think would be good to add/consider?

This is just an idea we have been kicking around and no where near fully thought out. We have children in the family old enough to enjoy the games but sensitive enough to hate what they see at the shows. This looked like a good place to bring it up. I would love any ideas or thoughts you guys have on this.

ZTIG said...

You know you shouldn't write things on an hour and half of sleep.
Let me rephrase "Yet, most people with any sense have mentioned they would be interested in participating if there wasn't the abuse"
What I should wrote: "Yet I have met and seen a lot of people mention they would be interested in participating for fun, if there wasn't the rampant abuse."

My apologies.

GoLightly said...

worse and worse

From further aghasted studies of these vdieo links..

Hope this works..

GoLightly said...

easily distracted, I am.

katphoti said...


YOU ARE AWESOME. THANK YOU for pointing out the helmet issue. I think in America, it seems that Western riders have two opinions about helmets. One, that they're foo-foo and only English riders wear them. Two, you're not a "real rider" if you wear a helmet. It's a serious problem, in my opinion. Helmets aren't just for English riders. I wear them all the time and especially won't ride a horse on the trails without one.

As for barrel racing, I just don't get it. I think it's the one horse sport where women really can reign, but they look so ridiculous, so how can anyone who knows anything about horses take them seriously? I mean, I would be totally impressed if I could see these women sitting in the saddle, moving with the horse and having trained the horse to carry himself and just fly around the barrels. And do it in a snaffle or bitless. It would be even cooler if they were bareback. I guess that's the sad part of all of this, though--there is no art to riding anymore. It's all just tricks and gimmicks and based on the attitude of ME ME ME. *SIGH*

katphoti said...


Actually, I think that's a brilliant idea. I am working with a young girl right now who is also disgusted with the crap that happens at her gymkhana. She is one of those that would certainly go for what you're doing. Why not challenge people to think about how they're treating their horses rather than worrying about winning? I think it's something that would really be an eye-opener.

Psychotic Raccoon said...

Holy mother of Christ. If I was a horse, I'd go crazy too, if someone was ripping my cheeks up to my eyeballs and beating the shit out of me.

I probably looked better than those riders when I was trotting around barrels on my draft horse. And I know next to nothing about barrel racing except the pattern.

Where have the good riders gone? I hate to see where the sport is going. And that could be said for most equestrian sports to at least some degree.

horsndogluvr said...

Some of the good riders have quit riding in AQHA and PRCA events. I went to a barrel race put on my one of the "pure" barrel registries; I can't remember which, and there were some good riders there. (That's where I ran into my trainer friend.)

Good things I saw: kids on appropriate sized horses/ponies, and at safe speeds (including a lead-line class for the youngest); and a free-style class at the end that was wonderful. The only requirement was to do the pattern once, everything else was up to you.

My trainer friend, and his wife, and one other person did it bareback with no bridle. (Two of them had "reins" that went around the base of the horse's neck - loosely.) They all showed off other "tricks" besides barrels. Lovely!

Other folks did little skits in costume; one in particular had clipped her horse into fairly authentic zebra stripes. I really enjoyed it, and I wish my camera had been working better that day!

Wouldn't you like to see free-style in reining, too?

ZTIG: great idea! Let's start a new club: the Fun Show club. Amateurs only. Grade horses welcome. No regulation tack (i.e. you can ride barrels in a Lane Fox if you want!) Only rule: no gimmicks.

Maybe have an advanced class where curb bits (and/or full bridles) and spurs are allowed, since they, like all tools, are not abusive when used correctly. But they'd have to go through levels first.

Ooh, ooh, I wanna write some rules! (evil grin)


Cut-N-Jump said...

Ok so everyone knows what a twisted mind I have...

the little red horse in video 3 & 4, what a treat! I was cracking up! Thanks TJM. I really needed the laugh.

Seriously I was laughing at the riders who got dumped from the smaller bucks, thinking to myself- you can't ride that out? Seriously?

Our neighbor who is a 'trainer' got dumped the other night. Riding a green horse, taking him out down the road and talking on the cell phone. He spooked and spun, she came off. So many things I can say were wrong with that whole situation.

I'll see if I can find the clip another blogger sent me. Same thing. Barrel racers who can't ride out the little bucks.

Mikolaj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mikolaj said...


This REALLY touches home. This past weekend, me and my best friend attended our first gymkhana. It was totally for fun, we have trail ponies who we did some game training on three days before it was happening, LOL. We never expected to win a darn thing.

Needless to say, our jaws dropped when by the end of the weekend, we'd each placed in almost every class with a lovely speckling of firsts, seconds and thirds with twice the cash prize money as we paid in entry fees.

How did we win? By NOT having trained game ponies! All the entrants were "barrel racers" who's horses were not only almost uncontrollable, but did not even BEGIN to understand why they were being asked to stop at a barrel to grab something. I love my Arab to death, but against stock horses for speed games, I shouldn't have stood a chance. But I did - what we lacked in take off, we made up for by perfect and precise control. We walked serenly into the ring every single time, and my horse patiently waited for me to ask her what to do. She's not even NECK REIN TRAINED for crying out loud! Both me and my friend competed with basic snaffles (d-ring and loose ring french links).

I've always been idiotically against the treatment of barrel racers. Is it a requirement that you HAVE to flunk a physics class to be a barrel racer? In what world does FLAILING make you aerodynamic? My Arab mare would KILL me if I dared take a whip to her - she LOVES to run, she KNOWS how to run, and all I have to do is whisper sweet nothings in her ear and she can take half the counties stock horses off the line.

So I hope maybe you can enjoy this video. I know we're going ridiculously slow, but we have NEVER barrel raced before. This was the one event we couldn't compete in, but I was SO proud of her. I apologize for some of the bouncing, I'm a big girl and it's a little tricky learning how to do this in a snap (hence why I took it slow, I had no intention of winning). I've actually purchased a Paint filly with the intention of a future barrel racing career (always been interested in it, but my Arab isn't exactly built for it, hehe)

Barrel Racing Arab!

I also thought I'd include our "flag race" which we actually won! Sad considering how slow we're going! We practically won by default because every other horse through a Clydesdale size temper tantrum at the barrels.

Flag Racing Arab!

Hapi said...

hello... hapi blogging... have a nice day! just visiting here....

horsndogluvr said...

Great rides, Mikolaj! I just got home from watching my BIL and his daughter in a gymkhana. What a good time I had - plus got plenty of material for the Bad_Riding blog.

I saw the same thing with the barrel-only horses freaking out. There was an event called "goat tying," where the goat is staked out. The rider comes up, jumps off the horse, and ties the goat as in calf roping. Everyone from about 7 yr olds up to adults, including my niece and BIL, were included. Niece's time was 10 seconds better than her dad's. Ha ha!

Some of the high-powered, professionally trained barrel horses apparently thought the little critters were Fearsome Horse-Eating Monsters. Pretty funny! Except for the bee-yotch who, for about the 6th time I saw, punished her horse for being scared.

Then there was the pretty little horse that I'm sure was at least 1/2 Arab, whose rider kept yanking her mouth, at every pole. The horse was looking around, thinking, and I made a bet with myself that she wouldn't be a gaming horse long. Only until she figured out how to get out of it. May she be upgraded, soon!

... And God bless the two riders using hackamores!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

The flapping arms and legs is quite a sad phenomina in the majority of barrel racing these days, particularly lower levels. A lot of the youth just drive me up a freaking wall watching them flop, flap and yank around the pattern.

As a barrel racer and barrel horse trainer, I thought I might just point out a few things though...

In all fairness, the first video is of Round 10 at the NFR. Let's think about that for just a second. This is the 10th consecutive run in this arena for a lot of these horses and these girls are having to ride them through the pattern as hard as they can. It isn't always pretty. But you DON'T get the NFR and then decide to slow lope the pattern because your horse is trying to set up and cheat you. There is a bit of flopping going on with different riders, but if you look at their hands, even if they do flap they are not pulling back. There is just no way to hold your hands perfectly still at those speeds. Up and down is the best you can hope for. Backward pull usually means you are getting left behind.
As for the "maniacs in the alley"...well again, it's Round 10. Those horses have a very long alley that they have to come up and then stand, waiting their turn. That is not terribly conducive to being able to keep your barrel horse quiet. A top barrel horse is never going to enter the ring like a WP horse. They know what their job is when they go in the arena and they anticipate it. They get just as much of an adrenaline rush going on as the barrel racer. It is our job to keep them as quiet as possible and that usually involves being able to move around. Standing in the alley makes that very difficult. Hence you are always going to see horses that lock up or have a difficult time, particularly after they have had to enter the same arena several nights in a row.
Also, coming into the Thomas and Mack is a tricky situation for both rider and horse. They are basically running into the arena blind. I've seen some girls try to sneak their horses up to the gate the first few nights trying to give them a glimpse of 1st barrel before they take off. It works for a few nights, but after that those horses know whats at the end of that alley and it is nearly impossible to hold them. Insisting on holding them back would create much more of a disaster than letting them run and then having to check them hard at first barrel.
This pattern is also a teenie, tiny little pattern. Last year, they had to run in the high 13 second mark to place right? That is about 3-4 seconds LESS than your average barrel pattern. These horses are barely getting out of a barrel turn before they have to set to turn another. Unfortunately that IS going to create some really funky stuff going on by Round 10. By this time most of these girls are having to work really hard to keep their horses from anticipating that turn and hitting barrels. Again, you can't always just sit there and let your horse run the pattern. You actually have to ride him and sometimes that looks just plain ugly.
In these horse's case it is not lack of training or even overtraining. By the time they get a few consecutive runs, they just are going to start anticipating the turns.

So then there is the next video...

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Watching that video is a bit painful. If you had noticed a lot of the horses that blew out their barrels WERE actually being ridden in snaffles.
Therein lies the problem with trying to run forever in a snaffle, the majority of horses will quickly learn to ignore your cues at a high rate of speed. They run completely through your cue to rate and turn. It's a nice thought that any horse should be able to run forever in only a snaffle or a rope hack. Quite a few GOOD barrel racers can and do. But not all horses are honest enough or have good enough riders to stay there.

I can see quite a few "training issues" with a few horses too. The current trend for a lot of barrel racers is simply getting a horse to run around the barrel. They are not creating rate. Probably because they don't know how to rate a horse properly and then get him to turn the barrel without tipping it. So they figure if they have a fast horse, they can just run around the barrel.

There are two things that really, really contribute to the sloppy riding you see in a lot of can chasers...too long of reins and too long of stirrups. Charmayne James rather ushered in that phenomina. But unlike a lot of people who try to emulate her, her horses were broke, broke, broke. She put a lot of rate into them and seldom lifted her hands while running. She also advocates running with a much stronger bit than you see a lot of current barrel racers running with, but she had the nice quiet hands to back it up. And as I said before, her horses were freaking broke to ride. They knew more than just "run a barrel pattern".

And then there is the wrecks...

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Whenever I see someone having trouble getting a horse in the arena, all I have to do is watch and it becomes pretty apparent whether that horse is refusing because they have been burned out or they are hurting. Horses that rear are usually burned out and have had their heads yanked off. Horses that spin and shake their heads are usually hurting. That showed on a lot of these horses pretty quickly at first barrel. They blew up and bucked. Most often it is simply something like they are out in the back and need a chiropractic adjustment. Sore stifles and hocks are also suspect, because the bucking starts as soon as they are required to rate and turn. They may make it around 1st, even if it is a little "errchy", but it comes out at second.
Honestly, it is not that easy to ride even a small buck if you are setting over your horse like you should be. Once second they are running, the next their head is gone and usually so are you-LOL.

The little red horse looks pretty young and I suspect his slow work had been done, but he probably had never been asked to run. A competition is a bad place to decide to push one for the first time.

A couple of those horses that fell simply slipped because they were out of position. It's a great theory that you can train your horse to run competitive barrels and you shouldn't have to actually "do" anything except let them run, but in reality a horse does need the support of his rider. A shorter rein and a rider balanced over her horse is going to be able to give that horse the correct cues and help him to gather to turn the barrel. Letting your horse hang out there while you sit on your ass and have a mile of rein slopping around doesn't help your horse in any way.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Kaede-If most of these girls would raise their stirrups up a notch(some need to go two notches), it would be much easier for them to set raised up so they are off their horses back. The only time my butt is actually in the saddle is when I sit for a rate, as my horse starts turning the barrel, I try to get my fat-ass up and out of the saddle again, so he can gather and leave the barrel. It's not a "two-point" per say, just more of a lift and balance.

Patricia-I do a lot of dressage maneuvers with my barrel horses. Believe me, it is trashy dressage, but based on the principles. It really helps strengthen their stifles. All of my barrel horse prospects are trained for lower level reining and shown in reining. Actually they are shown in a lot of classes-WP, HUS, Trail and Ranch horse classes along with some cattle tracking and roping. It's not that any one discipline gets their minds right, it's that I want them broke and solid before they get to actually start running.

Enjay-watch some videos of Lisa Lockhart, Jill Moody, Charmayne James or June Holeman. Those ladies ride quiet and get the job done. Lindsay Sears, although I hate that little snot, can ride the hair off of her good mare Martha. She never gets in Martha's way-even if she does get to gaping her legs on the way home.

One of the crappiest riders, I think, was Kristie Peterson. I don't know if Bozo was just that damn hard to ride or what. But sheez-1/2 the time she is hanging off his side coming out of the barrels. But for however crappy I think her riding skills are, she stayed out of his way and he got the job done. She also ran him in only a rope hackamore.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

horseanddogluvr-I think that was Tara Bynum you are referring to and her horse is not good about coming into the arena. Having to stand in that alley is hard on him mentally. But all she did was check him 3 times. It wasn't like she was hauling on his head or floating his teeth. And she has been running that horse for years-I kinda doubt that she is going to ruin him anytime soon.
Actually most of the girls at the NFR have been running the same horses for years. These horses have survived coming up the ranks without getting ruined. The chances of that happening now is very unlikely.

signedzani and Katphoti-There are getting to be more and more youth rodeoers wearing helmets and there has even been a barrel racer at the NFR who wore a helmet. The times they are a changing. Personally, I prefer the "free-choice" myself. I've worn helmets. I hate them. But like most things people are entitled to their opinions. You will not think mine is right. I think people need to do what what works for them. But, I've never seen anyone making fun of another for wearing a helmet at a rodeo or barrel racing. It's accepted as that is the choice that person makes when they ride.

Gymkhanas! Those freaking things drive me nuts. I have taken green barrel horses to some, for exposure and to get a cheap training run...GAHHHH!! The crap you see. The kids who know nothing. The parents who know nothing. And the poor horses who are yanked around every pattern. Gymkhanas should be outlawed. They are a breeding ground for crappy horsemanship and needless abuse.

One funny and then I will go away...I was timing at a High School rodeo this spring and when the barrel racing started, every time a girl came in all you could hear was her momma screaming...kick, kick, kick....go, go, go....look, look, look. The announcer, who has two little girls who will, I'm sure, eventually start rodeoing, kept turning his mic off and mimicking the screaming mommas. But the kick, kick, kick...go, go, go was being followed by a big awwwww, every time a girl would tip a barrel or have a crappy turn. We timers got to giggling at his antics and I was like, "What the hell dude?". He just grinned and said he was "practicing". Holy crap we got to laughing so hard I almost missed a couple of times(good thing we were just back-up timers).
I don't hollar at my daughter and I don't expect her to hollar instructions to me either. Really, if you don't know what you are doing when you go in, how the hell is anyone going to direct you from the sidelines when you are at a dead run?

horsndogluvr said...

Brown eyed cowgirls, WELCOME to the blogs! Your comments were great. I read every word, and learned a lot.

While I did train one horse to w-t-c (my def. of "green broke"), my main training experience is with dogs. Many of the principles translate well to horse training, in spite of the difference between predator thinking and prey thinking.

One thing is training a chain of behaviors. The more I watch barrel racing, the more I think that would be very useful. Break it down into separate behaviors, train them, then begin adding them to each other until the behavior chain that is the racing pattern is established. The horse knows what to do at each step. A side benefit is that if part of the pattern breaks down, you just have to re-train that one behavior.

An example of chaining: the behaviors are, 1. coming into the arena, passing the timers at a dead gallop. 2. Going around the barrel as fast as possible, to the right. 3. Going around the barrel as fast as possible to the left. These are trained separately, not in sequence.

Once these are dead trained, you put 1 and 2, or 1 and 3, together, and the horse should slow down to "barrel speed" on his own as he gets there, because he already knows what that speed is. Other individual behaviors would be speeding up when exiting the barrel; the two different approaches to the next barrel, and hitting that full gallop back to the outside of the arena. There may be smaller behaviors between, such as not letting his rider's foot touch the barrel.

One really good side effect of this is that they will listen to you* at each of these steps, knowing that they are separate things. That's harmony!

* as opposed to thinking "Oh, no, here comes the spot where I get my mouth jerked."

I have wondered about what the good trainers do, for barrel horses. I get the feeling many horses do nothing but the pattern, and are taught nothing about flexion, and are not taught to go straight (in the dressage sense: balanced between right- and left-"handedness").

I'm pretty sure that times would go down if the horses were equally as good at turning to the left as at turning to the right.

Lately, I've become convinced that basic dressage, for horse and rider, is the best base for ANY horse sport.

Well, enough of my blathering. I'd love to hear a step-by-step of how you train a barrel horse, Brown-eyed cowgirl.


Khazar-khum said...

People, people, people.

What does dressage mean?

Anyone? Buehler?

That's right. It means training. Not "magic", not "something people do who think they're too good for everyone", not "just for warmbloods/tbs/etc".

Training. That's all it means.

For the horse's sake, use it that way.

katphoti said...


THANKS for your posts! That was great info. It's nice to know the ins and outs and be able to understand why we see what we see. AND I'm very happy to hear that barrel racers are cool with helmets. I hate helmets myself, but I still wear one when I ride for safety reasons. Ive heard too many stories of people's lives being saved by helments not to wear one.

I do have one question for you. You said the following:

"It's a nice thought that any horse should be able to run forever in only a snaffle or a rope hack. Quite a few GOOD barrel racers can and do. But not all horses are honest enough or have good enough riders to stay there."

So why not just find a different horse? Why stick with one that is potentially unsafe? I have no problem with using a stronger bit IF--and I mean ONLY IF--you are an advanced rider or the horse is trained by a REAL trainer and the rider has been taught how to correctly use the bit. But it just seems a bit silly to continue to have a horse do stuff like that if he's going to be out of control. It just seems very dangerous to me. There are plenty of horses out there with good minds who love to run--why not find one of those instead and let the horse you are using go on to a different task?

I hate gymkhanas too. They make me so mad. My student goes to one and rides her mom's QH/TWH cross because he likes to run. We are retraining him to THINK before he runs. I know nothing about running barrels, mind you, but I know when I see good riding vs. bad riding and when you are being hard on your horse. This girl only does it to hang out with her friends, though. She doesn't like the running herself, and neither does her mom. I am seriously considering saying why don't you guys just borrow a horse for gymkhanas then and save mom's horse for mom? Not sure if I can do that right now, though.

Equus said...

Excellent post, as usual - I've been reading your blog for awhile ;) Fab points, though it only stirred me up so much I had to then vent about it in a blog of my own (despite having already previously commented on barrel racers in the past...I might have to lay off that bunch now for a little while), LOL.

I don't understand it either, and I can rattle off countless tales of woe on the part of some barrel horse. One of the barns we currently board at has a number of barrel racers and even hosts the odd jackpot here and there, so I am fortunately (*snort*) privy to the goings ons in the barrel world on an often enough basis (too often, in fact, for my taste).

One young girl (early teens) currently rides an ex-barrel horse. Her riding instructor, a barrel racer herself, prattled on and on to me one day about how this mare was virtually useless to its young rider, how she was never going to learn to slow down, as evidenced by all the "work" they'd put on her thus far and the mare continuing to "act up". She gave me one of those "you-know-what-I-mean" looks whilst telling me the mare was an ex-barrel racer, like this mare's past career sealed it in stone that she'd never do anything else. I stared blankly. I give up on these people. From my shoes, the mare is an excellent little horse with a TON of potential. These are the same people who nodded knowingly at our OTTB when he had his reactive moments when we first brought him home from the track. "Oh, he's off the track" - again, with that "he's never going to amount to anything thanks to his racing career" tone of voice. I just rode him at liberty today (not our first, either) and we are currently working on dressage prior to commencing him in jumping when I feel he is ready (both physically and emotionally) - another year or so. So much for always being an "uncontrollable" racehorse. Hey, here's an idea, let's not make them "uncontrollable" in the first place, and if somebody does, at least have the intelligence to realise the horse doesn't HAVE to be that way throughout its life, despite a former career in barrel racing.

When will people learn? Whatever happened to horsemanship?

BrownEyedCowgirls, with all due respect, it doesn't have to be "ugly", 10th run or not. Think of what the horse is going through if it looks so ugly. Please. Thanks for the viewpoint though, it's honestly great to hear from both sides.


BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

horsndogluver-I had to think about your concept for a bit. I think it's similar in thought process to the training pattern I use on everything.
It's a mini pattern. The barrels are set only 45' apart and each barrel has 3 tires around it creating a pocket for the horse to follow. Starting out, you walk the horse to the rate spot at 1st. Stop. Back. Pause. Walk around the barrel. Walk to 2nd repeat. 3rd-repeat. Walk straight down the center til anywhere past the pattern. Walk around a tire there and straight back to 1st. Pretty quickly a horse can go to trotting to the rate spot. Stop. Back. Walk around the barrel. When the horse's hip clears the barrel, trot to the next barrel and repeat. It's a slow, concise patterning exercise that trains horses to automatically go the the same spot every time, rate and bend around the barrel. Advanced horses can lope to the rate spot, rate down, trot around the barrel, lope to the next, etc. That's good for making sure they pick up the correct lead. I've never had to teach a horse to change leads between 1st and 2nd. It just becomes automatic for them with this pattern.
I use it to train, solidify, fix and retrain all kinds of horses. My pattern is simply set up in a grassy area and not next to any fences. The horses learn to "hunt" the barrel rather than relying on fencelines to bounce off of to get turned. It's my foundation and any time I have problems in a run, I go back to the little pattern to fix it-whether it is the horse's problem or my own that caused the issue.

That is another issue I have with some riders. They may practice slow, but they are not paying attention or practicing their technique-when to sit, when to lift, when to use leg while they are doing the slow work. We have to train our minds as well as the horse's and make our cues automatic so that when the speed comes we aren't behind the horse...which is seen a lot in those last couple of videos.

Those barrels come up before you know it if you are cruising along at anything more than a lope. If you have to actually think about when to sit, when to lift and when to bump, chances are your horse is already in the turn and there you sitting on your ass, pulling his head around the barrel. LOL-Been there! Done that!

The horse I have now is tremendously long strided. He no sooner clears a barrel and about all you feel is 2 strides and he is turning the next barrel. It's way cool, unless you are scrambling to get into position for the next turn.:O

ZTIG said...

If the young lady you are working with has any ideas on how it can be improved I would love to hear them.

lol! I like that the fun show club! And again I would love to hear any ideas/rules you may have.

ztigris at yahoo

ZTIG said...

Wonder why the horses are anxious to get in the arena?

For the next 15 seconds you are going to be asked to run as hard as you can, and take turns at unbelievable speeds. Which you would think is enough right? It is a wicked cool ride.

But no....

For the next 15 seconds you are going to have your mouth yanked, and back pounded on.

Is that enough? nope...

For the next 15 seconds you are going to have the shit kicked out of you. Not cued, the shit kicked out of you. We all have eyes we can see that CLEARLY in a barrel run.

For the next 15 seconds your owner may decide to carry a crop/over and under/or REALLY long reins. All the better to BEAT you with, even though you are running your ass off.

And we wonder why they get anxious and uncontrollable. You'd be nervous and freaked too. Why? Because your doting owner turned into an abusive cruel freak and you know what is coming.

And it's justified, it's accepted. Hell, it's almost expected. Yet, if we saw a horse taking this kind of a beating on the ground for 15 seconds, most of us would be pissed. But it's ok because it may gain you a FRACTION of a second. And really, that is all that matters, that F-ing fraction.

I say BULL SHIT! I don't care if it is NFR or a million dollar purse your running for. You have compromised yourself and shown that you don't give a shit about the horse, when you ride like that.

I really was going to try and keep it a calm post. I rewrote this a few times, and kept getting angrier and angrier. It ticks me off to no end, and they only way it will stop is people step up and say no more! But that would mean that most people who run barrels would have to open their own eyes as to how they are treating their horse for those 15 seconds or less.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

katphoti-I don't know why some people insist on keeping on with some horses. Personally, the only type I consider truly dangerous are the rearers. Any horse who is willing to go that far to avoid having to go in the arena has no problem going on over. I've seen it happen far too many times. Pretty much anything else I have run across can be fixed, all it usually takes is a little medical assistance;dental, chiro or farrier...some time off and then slow and consistent all-around training. ANY horse can be taught to do a correct barrel pattern. The only difference is how fast they are and their running/turning style.

Running and turning styles on individual horses is where bit preference starts to come in. All of the 1/2 gags work on the same principle. By design the intention is to help create break in the poll and lift in the shoulder. Both necessary elements for rating and turning a barrel correctly. A plain snaffle doesn't quite have the same effect, so for a horse who wants to drop his shoulder or lacks natural rate, something else is necessary. Doesn't mean these aren't good enough horses to have successful barrel racing careers, just that they need additional assistance to keep them correct.

The real problem I see a lot is that people do not use their hands in a manner that gives the bit effectiveness. Rather than "lift" as these 1/2 gags are designed to work, a lot of people are pulling their horse around the barrel. In that case, it really doesn't matter what kind of bit you use-your horse is out of position and is going to run past the barrel or cut into it.
But hey, we can make up all that lost time by kicking like hell in between barrels right? (slaps forehead)LOL.

And by that comment I mean the random kicking so many are guilty of. I have no problem with someone who is kicking for a specific reason, i.e-trying to get your horse back into position, whether that means bringing a shoulder in or trying to get your horse to move that shoulder and ribcage over, so they can make the next turn.

horsndogluvr said...

BECG, Yes, what I described is similar to your little pattern, but it breaks the pattern down into much smaller increments, which it teaches separately. And those increments can often be broken down into smaller ones.

One of the points of this kind of training is that it _doesn't_ teach an ironclad pattern. The rider can't get ahead or behind the horse, or the pattern breaks. Since the horse is listening for the next cue, and the rider is listening to the horse so that she is ready to give the cue, there's no need for horse-interrupting drama like flailing away with spurs or jerking mouths. Assuming the horse is speedy, the pair that is in the most harmony will probably win.

Not that there's any reason to keep the horse from learning the pattern, but if he knows that it doesn't _always_ happen that way, he'll be listening to his rider.

Well, in a perfect world, he will. Some hyper horses may be made more anxious by not knowing what might happen next. But most of the QHs I have known have been pretty level-headed.

You said, regarding a half-gag, "By design the intention is to help create break in the poll and lift in the shoulder."

I've spoken before on my dislike of "gimmicks." What you describe is collection. There's an excellent article, geared towards both english and western, here. Yes, it's long, but please read it and tell me what you think!


The problem with using gimmicks is that the gimmick becomes the cue. You then have to train the horse to do it without the gimmick. It's easier to do it without gimmicks from the start, because under stress, the horse (or dog, or human) will revert to the first way they learned it.

Teach the horse to collect, then teach him to collect at the rate spot, and there y'go. Collect around the barrels, extend between them.

I hope I don't sound like I'm trying to teach you your business. I've been told I can come across as an arrogant know-it-all. I'm just throwing ideas out there, based on what I learned in dog training. I'm not going to get my ego all bruised if you don't like them.


horsndogluvr said...

Gymkhanas. I think the best way to fix them is to enter, and do it right. Show them that you don't have to abuse the horse to win.

Sunday I was at a low-level Little Britches gymkhana. There were events for adults. The barrel racing was not won by any of the barrel-trained horses, but by a professional rodeo pick-up man and his horse. Because of teamwork. They were 100 percent together.

At 0.56 on this vid you can see the pick-up man doing his job. Definitely calls for teamwork.



katphoti said...


Thast is some great info too. Thanks for sharing it. It really helps to understand what's going on in this world and why there are more people who do it wrong than right.

"And we wonder why they get anxious and uncontrollable. You'd be nervous and freaked too. Why? Because your doting owner turned into an abusive cruel freak and you know what is coming."

I completely agree, ZTIG. Good call!

Ruthie, I am going to print and read that article. I need to learn more about correct collection with my TWHs that I ride in snaffles and bitless--I'm sure it will help! Thanks!

katphoti said...


"The problem with using gimmicks is that the gimmick becomes the cue. You then have to train the horse to do it without the gimmick. It's easier to do it without gimmicks from the start, because under stress, the horse (or dog, or human) will revert to the first way they learned it."

AWESOME. Well said. That should go in any discipline. It's what I'm working with a student right now--her TWH was a former heavy-shod horse with a 10" shanked mullen mouth bit. While not sored (at least, his owner believed that he wasn't but she wasn't at the training barn when he was trained, and we KNOW the trainer was a sore horse trainer), he learned to rely on the shoes and the bit to get his gait. Now we are reteaching him by getting his muscles to develop muscle memory and learn to balance and carry himself on his own. And I have to say, he's MUCH prettier going naturally and barefoot than he was before!

Now I'm working with a mare who has never been taught how to carry a rider correctly in gait as she's only 4. So I'm working with a fresh horse. I had to retrain her brain as she never got good, consistant basic training, but now we just need to work on her body and she'll be a wonderful show horse with minimal effort!

katphoti said...


Forgot to add that I will ask the girl what she thinks and pass on the info. At 15, this girl is incredible when it comes to understanding how to work with animals. I'm sure she'll have some good ideas!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

horsndogluver-That article is excellent.

I think your training theory has merit. As with anything different than current accepted methods the only way to know would be to try it and see how it works. I don't know why it wouldn't. Heck, when I was growing up it was taboo to practice anything but the exact pattern. Irregardless of the problems you might be incountering, people insisted they just needed more of the same to "get it". Now, there are tons of different exercises to deal with common issues that either stem from running styles, pilot error, the horse anticipating or having a difficult time keeping his body position.

As for the bits are gimmicks...ummm, my opinion is different. I believe in using whatever works that allows me to ride with minimal effort applied and still gets the desired response. Too much bit-sets a horse too hard and slows your times down. Not enough bit-possibly not enough set and very likely dropped shoulders=hitting the barrel.
I have, as do most barrel racers, quite a selection of different styles of bits. Some have quite a bit of gag action, some not so much, some have rope nosebands and a couple of just rope nosebands. LOL-And that is just my speed event-type bits.
Interestingly enough, my current horse runs the best with my mom's old full gag. He has a lot of natural rate. With just the snaffle he was getting too front-endy and lugging on my hand. Not only is it difficult to maneuver a horse who runs on their front-end, they have a tendency to get strung out behind, causing stifle and hock injuries. So I simply had to play around with bits until I found one that lets him run comfortably but still gives me the control I need to help him stay as correct as possible. I can't see how using a bit that works to better your horse's ability could be considered gimmicky. Especially when you see a lot of the horses that fail to turn properly in the videos are being ridden with snaffles. Is is lack of training? Poor horsemanship? Or is it just that it's not the right bit to help that horse? There really is no way to know unless a person got the opportunity to ride that particular horse and feel what is going on.

And as for your comments, absolutely not arrogent nor do I feel like you are trying to tell me my business. It's always interesting and enlightening to actually run into someone who puts some thought into how things could be done differently to ultimately make them better.

horsndogluvr said...

"Not enough bit-possibly not enough set and very likely dropped shoulders=hitting the barrel."

Ah, but doesn't that mean you are using the bit to get your horse to collect? He's collecting to avoid feeling the severity of the bit. In my *ideal* world, horses do nothing out of fear, but always out of partnership.

Not that you're doing it wrong. I just feel that the horse should collect himself going into the barrel, without being asked. Just like they learn on their own to change leads between barrels.

That's a benefit of teaching entry to the barrel separately from the rest of the pattern. The horse only has to thing of entering the barrel, not the rest of the pattern.

The thing is, you can teach a horse to collect without riding it! You can do it with groundwork. (That's "book knowledge" speaking. I won't be getting to doing it for a while, since both the horse and I need to get to fit from flabby.)

I'm not a snaffle fanatic by any means. I greatly prefer a curb for neck-reining. And I have used a "full bridle" to help a horse learn to collect. Yes, on a Western horse! Probably looked funny with me sitting in the ol' Tex Tan, with this formal English bridle on the horse. But, whatever works, I say!


Cut-N-Jump said...

BECG- I appreciate your explaining the differences in the videos, but I have to comment on something. Ok a couple of somethings...

The first video, is round 10 from the NFR? Round 10!

Correct me if I am wrong, but in other competitions- cutting, jumpers and dressage since I compete or ride there- the uppermost levels of competition do not make you complete 10 rounds. Most that I am aware of, you get one shot to get it right.

Many times you may have completed a preliminary or qualifying class to get to the championship, but that's only two classes at that one show. You can compete in different divisions, 3', 3'6", etc. and the championship for each, but still not likely to add up to 10 rounds at one show. Can anyone imagine what would happen if the Kentucky Derby went to a "Best of 10" type of format?

The '10 rounds' at the top competition, just seems to give those opposed to rodeo, more fuel for the fire in their while protesting the whole thing. Not likely something the PRCA wants to do.

With jumpers it is commonly said "The horse only has so many 'jumps' in them." I imagine barrel racers to be much the same, in regards to the number of 'runs' the horse has in them.

Surely a number of those runs, get used up in training and to bring the horse along to whatever level they 'top out' at. If it is an NFR worthy horse, it doesn't seem like there would be as many left when that level of competition has been reached.

Dropped shoulders in relation to dressage and equitation in general, the horse is merely an extension of ourselves. The rider drops their shoulder- the horse does the same. Only the horse is much bigger and it amplifies the problem. Dropped shoulders can result in missed leads, unbalanced or inhibited movement, downed poles and lost cows. Many times it isn't the bit at all or the timing of the cues being used, but our own body position that throws everything off.

I'm not trying to argue, just clear up a few things in my own mixed up mind.

katphoti said...

Thanks for the article, hndl. AWESOME stuff. I have a student that I'm going to MAKE read it so she understands why she needs to learn to ride better!

The following is a classy little YouTube video "discussion" I had on a video of some crappy barrel racers that come off their horses. Not one from this blog, though.

Honestly, I don't know why I engage in this crap, but sometimes when you're mostly annonymous you've had a really bad day and are hating the goverment, then you have to take it out somehow. So please excuse my anger and blatant nasty talk. I swear to God I'm not normally like this.

I love the slow motion shots on the turns - adds so much to appreciating the rider's skill

SKILL???? These riders have no skill. They are flopping around in the saddle, flogging their horses, yanking them around, and are completely behind the motion. I swear, why can't the majority of barrel racers learn how to RIDE???

lol, that's funny coming from a saddle seat rider. get on a gamer hunny , you're in for a suprise.

katphoti (20 hours ago) Show Hide
I have 30+ years with Western & English equitation, REAL SS on naturally gaited horses, not the crap that ASBs are enduring in the ring today. My lessons are based in learning how to ride with my body FIRST, not with my hands. I had to learn how to ride bareback with my heels down and quiet hands BEFORE I was allowed to ride in a saddle. The basics of riding are important NO MATTER WHAT discipline. But hey, gamers are exempt b/c let's face it--it's all about winning & NOT about horsemanship.

Haha, go back to your english darling
Obviously these are timed speed events, they aren't going to be sitting straight up doin lil posties. I thought that was rather obvious..

What's obvious is how ingorant you are & the barrel racer world is. You'd have faster times & stronger horses if you'd learn to ride & train them right. You are not listening: the principles of riding are ALL the same, no matter what discipline. And yes, I have ridden barrel horses & all I experienced was a frightened horse who thought I was going to beat on him the whole time we were running the pattern. It is no fun for the horse when his sweet owner becomes a raging maniac in the arena.
But hey, keep flogging and yanking on your horses, and when you get flipped or he pulls something like in one of these videos, don't blame him--blame yourself for your poor horsemanship.

It's really cute how you stereotype.
English riders beat & sore their horses, and double bridles? talk about yanking. I rode english for 5 years. Then I realized what a waste of time it is.
I don't yank, or "flog" whatever the fuck that means. Keep being ignorant though, it suits you.! xx

Honestly, it's really hard to take someone seriously who can't even spell "life" or know what "flog" means. How frightening. I fear for the future of horses...

RiderxForxLiife Uh... I never spelled life? I think you're confused. And sorry, but no one says "flog". I don't speak old lady.

RiderxForxLiife. Nice. You're funny. Keep it up--you're just showing your ignorance.
Oh, I figure I'd better explain because you won't get it. L-I-F-E, not L-I-I-F-E like in your handle.

katphoti said...

Ruthie and BECG, you guys are awesome! I'm really enjoying your discussions. I'm working with going completely bitless myself and teaching my horses better collection through learning to carry themselves properly, not rely on a bit. But really, I see it as a personal challenge, just to see if I can do it. I am just ITCHING to ride my horses bitless in the show ring. :)

ZTIG said...

Kat are you familiar with http://www.hauteecole.ru/en/ ?

or Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling?

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Katphoti-I think you hit on the exact principle of what is wrong ACROSS the equine board...people can't ride for shit these days. The number of people who can really ride a horse-no matter what discipline-is in the toilet.

Sure everybody wants to be able to get on a horse and do something with them, but so few know what to do if a horse gets out of position or does something unexpected.

The worst of the lot are gamers. Holy hell! I've watched kids and even adults who seem to ride well when they are not actually competing. But call their name and when they go in the arena-they are flopping around like a fish out of water. Hands up in the air. Legs like jello. Ass slapping the saddle.

If these idiots understood anything about horsemanship or looked at any other event-they would not see the same thing happening. They can say all they want-speed events are different. It's nothing more than a cop-out.

Look at jumping horses-seldom do you see a good rider's elbows or legs flapping around to make their horse go. Occasionally, I've seen them come a little loose to encourage a horse who wants to set up, but for crying out loud their butts are still up and over the horse encouraging forward motion.

Reining horses-can spin on a dime, but only if their bodies are upright and square under the rider. The spin doesn't come from the body, it happens in the legs. Most of them can run pretty damn fast in those big circles too-all the rider does is lift his butt out of the saddle a little bit and squeeze with his lower leg. Forward motion!

Jockeys-geez, these people are perched atop a horse running at full speed. Leg? What leg? They ride with a short, tight rein and their hands are what encourages the horse. Using a bat is an art form. They all know that for it to be effective you have to bat IN STRIDE with the horse. They actually practice doing it correctly.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

You guys are going to hate me this morning cause I'm on a roll-we got an inch of rain last night-so get to hang out in the house this morning.;)

Here is an exerpt from one of my mother's barrel racing books-published 1961-authored by a good barrel racer of that time, Jane Mayo.
"I'd suggest you take a tip from those jockeys at the race track. They run those hores on a short, tight rein. If a horse has a lot of slack in the reins while he's running, his head just bobs around out there. But if you hold that rein fairly short and steady-with the slack out of it-it steadies his mouth and his whole body. You'll be giving him instructions through the reins. With a little pressure in the mouth, he'll run faster and straighter, because you're helping to make him feel that you are right with him. And if you'll keep those reins short you can pull him to one side or the other with a slight movement, not a big one. You'll also find you can hold your own balance much easier."

This is sort of my answer to hndl's query about whether my horses fear the bit. They don't-because I don't just throw them away, wait until I get to the barrel and then haul on their head to get them to rate. I am always right there with them and it takes a very small movement to get the desired response. They are already running in a collected manner under me, all it takes is a slight shift of weight and an inch or so of lift and voila-a horse who has rated and is turning the barrel.

The same can't be said for a lot of others though-particularly the flopping fish. Almost every single one of them have a yard of rein flopping around, which is why their hands are flopping around and that in turn gives everything else the opportunity to come loose and flop around-particularly when they ride with too long of stirrups.
I ride, day to day with one length of stirrup and if I am going to do anything other than slow work on the pattern, I raise them a notch.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

cutnjump-Unlike many other equestrian events, where it is the horse that qualifies. In association rodeos(PRCA included) it is the rider who accumulates the $$. In fact those girls can ride whatever horse they want to at the NFR. Every one of them is required to provide at least one back-up horse. Some girls chose to use alternating horses, some get on a good lick with their main horse and stick with them. But the same could be said for all of the timed events-team roping, calf roping and steer wrestling.
Also available(and many girls bring their own) are veterinarians, equine chiropractors, massage therapists, mangnetic therapy and just about any other form of equine practitioner/therapy out there to give these horses a thorough going over for the slightest reason. The same types of things these horses receive on a regular basis throughout the season to keep them healthy, happy and sound.

The rough stock/timed event cattle on the other hand has to work only twice in that 10 day period.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

How many runs in a barrel horse? How many jumps in a hunter? Slides in a reiner?

There is no fixed number of competitive runs in any horse. It all boils down to careful training and daily overall care.

A poor jumping horse trainer will wear out a good horse with natural talent by continuing to jump them at competition levels day in and day out. A poor reining horse trainer will wear out a reiner's hocks in short order by forcing them to slide over and over day in and day out. A poor barrel horse "trainer", I use that term loosely because most barrel racers "train" their own horses-will wreck a horse's body and mind with repetitious runs on the pattern.

Good trainers of any discipline work carefully to build a confident, consistent competitor and when they have melded and solidified every step and that horse can perform at a competitive level-then it is simply a matter of doing little things to keep them consistent and regular riding to keep them in shape.

Cut-N-Jump said...

BECG- Slight correction, in cutting you have 'rider' classes and 'horse' classes. i.e. $250, $500, $2,000 limit rider, Green Horse, $1500 horse, etc. based on the horse or the riders earnings... Cave Creek, list of classes & brief descriptions

Kat- please note the entry fees for each on the right... that is pretty much everything. No extra drug fees, office or arena fees, etc. That is for one 2.5 minute 'turn' on the cattle.

I'm not sure I follow you on "the best of 10" format for the NFR. It still sounds a bit much to expect from any one horse or even two.

Considering some of the ropers and steer wrestlers will 'lease out' their horse for others to ride and compete on, the horse can make several runs in each go 'round. Added wear and stress for the horse. Again- why give those opposed any form of 'ammo' to use against you?

Even when considering the medical resources available to them 10 runs over a few days time can add up in the toll it takes on the body.

When we worked for the vet, hocks, hips, shoulders, knees and coffin joints are what we injected most on barrel horses. A few of them got what was called "Around the World" meaning just about every joint got juiced.

As for the "So many jumps in a horse." theory, even the best of show jumpers or hunters under the guidance of a careful coach/trainer, there still only remains so many jumps in the horse.

As age creeps up, it is no longer fair to ask the horse to remain competitive at the same level they were in their youth. It sucks, but we are all getting older, even as we speak/type.

That's what I meant when I asked about the number of 'runs' in a horse. Do you guys use the same theory or train of thought? Just curious.

Frankly, I agree. If you are careful in your training and manage a horses career well, they can often compete well into their advancing age, when the others around them are long since retired, burned up, brain fried, crippled or even euthanized.

Any thoughts on the dropped shoulders?

Cut-N-Jump said...

I forgot to add, that even though the club restricts riding one (1) horse per show on some classes, you rarely see anyone cross entering one horse into various 'horse' and 'rider' classes to compete on. Not to say it doesn't happen, but they tend not to do it much.

Most (again not all) cutters seem to be very careful about not ruining their horses and using them up too soon. Some clubs also have Aged Events, for the older but still competitive horses...

horsndogluvr said...

Ohyeah. Good talk! Remembering back to my young and "fluent" days - galloping up those twisty horse trails, I did as much with my body as with my hands.

BECG, I want to quote this to my BIL and niece:

'A poor barrel horse "trainer", I use that term loosely because most barrel racers "train" their own horses-will wreck a horse's body and mind with repetitious runs on the pattern.'

I try to get through to them, but it's apparent that all they do to practice is run the barrels. She's already doing the flop-flop-kick-kick thing. She's 10. She didn't ride her horse in the Flag Race because they were afraid it would ruin him for the barrels!

I dread asking her how old her horse is. I know BIL refuses to break one older than 3, and he broke the horse. I wonder how soon he'll break down, seeing as how the shoulders and hocks aren't through growing until the horse is 3-4 yrs old. (Pelvis and spine, not until 5-6 yrs old.)

I hope her horse hangs around long enough for me to build some "cowboy cred." That would be at least two years, until I'm fit enough to ride again, and get my balance back. Then maybe they'll quit dismissing me as an "english" riding, overly soft-hearted old fool. (Grumble)

Katphoti, you said, "I'm working with... teaching my horses better collection through learning to carry themselves properly, not rely on a bit. But really, I see it as a personal challenge, just to see if I can do it."

That's the way I feel about putting ground training on my guy. A personal challenge, and to overcome his "cowboy" breaking (by BIL, of course).

We'll see...


Cut-N-Jump said...

HNDL- That's what I mean about the "only so many in them" phrase. Jumpers do not consistently school over the size of fences they may show over. Just like barrel racers don't run all out, every time they do the pattern or race horses going all out in their daily workouts.

The smart trainers wish not to use up all of the horses 'jumps' or what is also refered to as 'winning the warm up'.

You know the folks, out in the warm up repeatedly shcooling the 'big' jumps or repeatedly sliding and spinning their horses. Come time for the class, their horse is spent and their scores reflect that. They used up the horse before it mattered or counted.

Seen it too many times and may have done it myself before learning any better. A lot of times those are the people whose horse isn't ready or they are showing off. If the horse isn't ready, you aren't going to make it so, the day of the event. If they are showing off- doesn't matter who they are trying to impress outside, because the judges inside the ring are the ones awarding the placings in most events.

katphoti said...


No I'm not familiar with either of those, but I will definitely read that website and let you know what I think. And to ask, what do you think?

I have more to talk about with you guys, but I really want to watch this movie from my Netflix. More later! :)

ZTIG said...

I have been fascinated by Hempfling's work. Everything I've applied from his teachings works, 100%. Unfortunately, he won't come to the states, you have to go to him on his island (terrible :) ). I understand that it is because of all the things we complain about here. If I remember correctly he trained with the Carthusian Monks to learn his techniques.


A friend of mine, is working with the online school of Nezorov. You have to show that you are willing to completely rethink the way you train, before they will work with you. However, it is free.
I plan to join when I get the next
project horse. But that one is a ways off. (One has to cross the rainbow bridge, or the lottery must be won - or I will be shot :))
There is a gentleman out of Canada who teaches Nezorov's methods, as far as I know, he is the only one authorized on the North American Continent. But his website appears to be currently down. http://www.equiforme.net/

I love the way Nezorov works with his horses, I'm blown away every time I watch a video. However, I don't like that he promotes the Strasser method of barefoot trimming. But, that is just a personal preference, can't agree with everyone 100%. =)

Both gentlemen show that you don't need a bit, bridle or other accouterments to achieve the communication, lightness and collection that we all desire, in saddle or in hand.

They seem to both have a great understanding of the horse and how to communicate. In my opinion they are the Baucher/Xenophon of our time, or at least the closest we are going to get to it.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

cutnjump-ROFLMAO on the "winning the warm-up pen". OMG-I've seen it soooo many times. In ALL disciplines.
I've always thought it was because the rider was unprepared to show. That is one area that a lot of people don't think about-the mental preparation of the rider's mind prior to an event.

On the NFR-The anti-rodeo crowd seems to stick mostly to defending the rough stock and the roping stock.
While I agree it does seem like a lot to ask of the saddle horses, the only thing I can say is the same horses come back year after year. I know a lot of the girls give their horses a pretty healthy break from competition prior too and directly after the NFR, but I don't really know what they do to prepare their horses in terms of fitness for such a marathon. I suspect almost nothing in terms of speed, but work on conditioning and finesse.

On the number of runs in a barrel horse. I do believe that the number of good runs in a horse is numbered...and yet that number can be infinate with proper care and training. I haven't been able to "wear" one out yet. They usually age out. Unfortunately that is life. There just comes a certain time in every horse's life where they just lose the desire to compete...or the competition gets faster. That is also the nature of barrel racing. Someone is always going to come along with a faster horse. All a person has to do is look at the changes in the winning times at the NFR to see that. Charmayne James won rounds with times of 14.40. A decade later Janet Stover made a smoking run of 14.20. Now to even place these girls have to hit at or below the 14.00 second mark.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Dropped shoulders! There are two baines to the turns for barrel racers. Horses who float out the turn and horses who start dropping shoulders.
Horses who consistenly overrun the barrel or float out going into the barrel lack rate.
Horses who start consistently start dropping shoulders are rating incorrectly. It usually starts with pilot error-dropping your shoulder, pulling down and looking down at the barrel are the primary reasons behind it.

But, if you teach a horse to rate properly, you are also teaching yourself to rate properly. It all goes back to the slow work. You HAVE to practice your riding position and cues just as correctly as you expect that horse to practice his body position. A horse can't run much differently than your body tells him too. He may duck a little here and bow a little there, but if you keep yourself in the correct position and use your legs and hands to bring him back into shape-he will never get really wacky.

The only way I know to teach a horse how to rate a barrel properly is to ride him to that rate spot and stop him. The stop is all important. It must be a nice, soft, square stop. Just like a beginnig reining horse stop. The horse needs to round in the back, bring his hindquarters up and under him and break in the poll. I don't really care where the horse's head position is though, except that I won't let them get their head too low. I don't want that curled, low-headed reining horse slide.

When I start a horse on the pattern. Every horse stops at the same rate spot. As a horse progresses, I'll adjust that spot depending on the natural ability of the horse. A horse that can really round and stop I'll rate farther up into the turn. A horse that has a lot of run-not as much stop, I'll rate farther back from the barrel.

If a horse trots or lopes up to the rate spot and stops nicely-I just relax and let him stand there. That part is important! Too many girls just run up there, stop and then charge around the barrel. That doesn't really teach a horse much about rating. You have to wait until that horse gives you an indication that they have accepted the stop-stretching out the neck, licking the lips, relaxing the neck...something. Then you proceed around the barrel.

A hot horse may not want to stand for very long. I don't fight with them. I'll proceed around the barrel. Those horses need twice as much slow work as a quiet, lazy horse. Eventually though, they all get nice and quiet. They learn to hunt that stop.

If my horse does not stop square and soft, I'll back them up until they round up and break over in the poll, trot back to the rate spot and do it again. And again, and again. Until either they have figured out how to stop square or I have have.;)

That simple exercise keeps both horse and rider thinking about the rate and not just charging around the barrel.

This is one of the problems I have with guru's like Pat Parelli and Clinton Anderson trying to show people how to "lope" their horse around the barrels. A barrel horse DOES NOT lope around the barrel. He turns it. And he can't turn it properly if he is not rating!

Cut-N-Jump said...

BECG- We have seen mor ethan our share of people "winning the warm up" because they are merely showing off.

When it comes to the horses not being ready, well if they weren't ready at home why did you bother? It's not like you are going to suddenly get 6 months worth of work into their brain the day of!

Yet there are people who continue to do it. What we see more often is the horse steadily getting worse at each show, rather than improving. Those are the horses and riders to watch out for and stay away from.

The horses that improve, well someone is doing something right!

Cut-N-Jump said...

BECG- I haven't seen too many horses who really enjoy their job and sport, lose the desire to compete. Not unless they end up in the hands of a lousy owner and crappy rider. A lot of horses sadly get phased out as the new, upcoming horses have youth on their side.

With youth they can have speed and agility working for them, but the lack of experience can outweigh that and inhibit their 'game'. Seen that a few times too. The older and wiser, know how to position themselves and can be more forgiving of their riders inexperience.

With the times getting faster, what do you think are the major factors involved in that?

With the advances in technology- obvioulsy the horses are getting more streamlined, specific supplements, and in general living longer, but what other factors are involved? Breeding, footing, saddle design and materials?

Out of curiosity, do any of the barrel racers go to great lengths to control their weight? Jockeys do, just wondering if it is common in barrel racers?

horsndogluvr said...

I know they use "break the beam" timers. If the technology has improved, it might be making a difference. but that's something I know absolutely nothing about.

Or it could be the advent of good trainers like BECG and my friend. They can't help it if their horses wind up with bad riders.

But, there's one thing that would be interesting to see. I read somewhere that two-year-old racers that keep racing turn in much better times after they are mature. That's a good argument for waiting til they are 4 to really start them. I think I saw it in the famous Ranger piece, by the same vet that wrote the one on collection. Warning: pdf file.


horsndogluvr said...

Hmm. Did I do a HTML fail? Here's the link:



cattypex said...

Ok... Pardon my ignorance but is"rate" referring to.. What exactly? That sweet spot where your horse kind of rolls around the barrel, like a good jump takeoff? Or is it merely getting his body right - keeping his shoulder up & not out of control?

In wimpy old English riding, we are taught to use our leg to move the horse into a supporting hand, a technique that when done properly, serves us well and demonstratess thought and skill.

It seems to me that the bad contesters (unlike you guys posting here, thanks for the good training advice!) really don't know or care that they look like dumbasses.

About crappy foundations of today's riders... I rode many hours on a lungeline without stirrups, sometimes with my eyes closed. We had to post without stirrups too. We trotted for miles in two-point, and a crest release was meant for baby beginners (like me) on tiny crossrails while you developed an independent seat.

I think that every rider regardless of discipline should aspire to an independent seat, but it's especially important for riders at speed merely for safety's sake. A good saddle that fits you and your horse is a good tool in this endeavor. Sorry, but I see the WORST chair seats and roach backs in people who proudly proclaim that they had to learn that way.

It's rare to see a contester in a saddle or with stirrup length that promotes good leg position, which exacerbates the lack of control and perceived need for crappy bits etc.

Plus so many of these riders don't even KNOW there's a right and wrong way to do things. They should do motocross instead...

cattypex said...

Oops I mean the chair seats & roachbacks occur on people who learn bareback first...

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

cattyplex-you know what is funny? If these lousy riders(of any discipline) tried to ride motocross the same way they tried to ride horses-they would wreck.

My hubby is a biker. Had never ridden a horse in his life till he met me. He watched me and my daughter ride quite a bit and I explained certain things to him in cooralating terms.
The first time he stepped on a horse, he looked like he had always ridden. Granted-we mostly walked and did some slow trotting. But the first time we went on a trail ride, we could hear someone riding around(in the equestrian only park) on a 4-wheeler, but couldn't pinpoint exactly where it was. About that time the D.A. kid come busting out of the brush right behind my hubby on his horse and was right up his mare's butt. I thought for sure I had just gotten my hubby killed. I was having a hard enough time controlling the horse I was on and I just knew that mare was going to blow up and poor hubby wouldn't have a clue how to control her. Because he HAD spent so much time on motorcycles, he was able to keep his balance, grabbed onto the horn and just sat deeper and pulled up with the reins. That mare was bunched up and ready to loose it. But because he didn't get to flopping around and grabbing with his legs and hands, that was the extent of her spook. Hubby's face was a white as a sheet. Once we got everyone calmed back down and had resumed our ride...we got to talking about it. I asked him how had he realized what to do? He told me it felt just like when a bike's rear tire looses traction on gravel. You can't slam on the front brake or the momentum will cause the bike to squirrel even more and wreck you. So you just have to stay balanced and gently squeeze with the front brake until you get control of the rear tire.

Maybe if we put more of these floppy, flappy riders on motorbikes and told them to ride them at high speeds like they try to ride their horses, if they survived the wrecks, they might figure out how their crappy riding affects their horses?

Oh and rate is like that sweet spot you describe for a jumping horse. It's the spot where a horse goes from a dead run, breaks and lifts their loin and reaches up with their hind legs to set for the turn. In a finished barrel horse it can be nearly inperceptable.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

cutnjump-electric eyes, better ground, improved training techniques, more consistent feed and better care at an earlier age are all factors in improved speeds. In my opinion though, the biggest factor is most likely specialized breeding programs. Like any discipline-there are just certain bloodlines that excel in the barrel horse world. Most interestingly though, it really seems to be about "nick's". This bloodline may do okay and that bloodline may do okay, but cross them and sha-zam. There is a lot of criss-crossing of foundation and running blood.

Rider's weights-In any event, weight can be an issue. If you are really heavy, it's just harder to do things. Ultimately it boils down to core strength and balance. I've seen some stocky girls who ride very well. If they can get up over their horses and stay balanced, it's unlikely that they affect the speed of the run. But if they can't do that or get out of position of course it can cause problems in the run. Those skinny little be-otches may get thrown around like rag dolls, but aren't as likely to really unbalance their horse. But if they are gaping with their legs and flapping with their hands-they still aren't helping their horse either.

horsndogluvr said...

Funny - in high school, where I rode nearly every day, my roommate's brother offered me a ride on his Triumph. He complimented me on my balance. It never occurred to me that it also worked the other way around.

And thanks for affirming my idea that in everything but horse racing, weight doesn't matter that much as long as you ride well. I've never been a lightweight; even when I wasn't fat, I was heavy. I could always "win" against the guess-your-weight guys at the carnivals - they were usually off by around 20 lbs. (And that was when I was 11 or 12.)

I can't wait to get back to where I can throw my leg over a horse again!

And I've developed a pipe-dream of learning gaming, and showing my niece that us old f*rts who talk about dressage really DO know what we're talking about. Especially if I can do it on my (by then) 17-yr old gelding.


cattypex said...

Good points about motocross! We just got back from a trip out west that included a stint in the Black Hills, and the Sturgis traffic was intense. Some of those folks can ride in perfect formation, inches apart, at 80 mph no problem. I was amazed.

The funny thing about being a good balancer on horseback, it doesn't translate well to canoes, which always manage to buck me off. Which is OK as long as there aren't rocks...

Ha - after seeing a photo of myself on a rangy Appy last week, I'm embarking on the Weight Watchers odyssey again. I don't FEEL fat, but I sure don't look good... well, capri pants and paddock boots aren't flattering together anyway. ; )

But back to the topic.... I also wonder if the crap economy is keeping people from even THINKING of taking lessons? Or if they do, they go for the cheap chick down the road who does local jackpot nights... In that case I really SHOULD instruct some kids. Hey, in the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is KING.

Then again I wonder if there's a general degradation in quality of any pursuit due to our instant gratification tendencies in this day and age.

katphoti said...

UGH. Weight.

Well, I've learned a few things about weight and riders. When it comes to the big leagues:

1. There are no fat dressage riders.

2. There are no fat riders in any discipline that requires speed and agility (endurance, reining, barrel racing).

3. The fat riders are usually people who are not in the big leagues OR they are the lazy people who really don't know how to ride well and don't learn the refinement of work that goes into working with horses, i.e., the majority of gaited horse "trainers."

I only know two fat men who would kick ass in any dressage arena, and both are REAL gaited horse trainers. I'm not sure how they do it, though, but I know both of them have had knee replacements. And yes, you can argue that William Shatner is fat all you want. But honestly, let's be realistic--it is extremely rare to see a fat rider doing well in the upper levels of competition with horses.

I went from 120 lbs in college to 140 after I got married and I ballooned up to 206 in the past 10 years. I have accepted that I am obese for my frame and height. With this weight gain came pain in my feet, knees and back. It also has promoted sinus trouble and acid reflux disease. What has been most disturbing is that I lost my balance. I can no longer get up on a horse from the ground anymore, and it isn't just the weight that's the problem--it's that because my belly protrudes out, I cannot lift myself up and suck in my gut to pull my leg up over the horse. I can no longer ride bareback because I just have no balance. I watched a show about obese people and how their bodies and center of gravity literally change when they start packing on the pounds. They start walking with a waddling motion and the back curves backwards while the knees and feet bend outward to compensate for the weight. I can tell how the fat has changed me because I cannot sit well the way I used to when I rode, and I cannot do the kinds of movements and maneuvers I used to be able to do when I was thinner and stronger.

Now, I KNOW I will never be 120 again--honestly, I was underweight for my frame and hardly ate and actually was very sickly and not healthy at all. I am now on Weight Watchers and am down to 184. My goal weight is 150, completely within my healthy range and not too thin.

I have figured out that I have hindered myself by not taking care of myself. I cannot expect to be as good a rider and instructor as I want to be if I don't take care of myself. Helping others doesn't go well if you don't take the necessary time to also help yourself. I have to be confident in my body as well as my mind in order to be the best I can be.

katphoti said...


"Then again I wonder if there's a general degradation in quality of any pursuit due to our instant gratification tendencies in this day and age."

I think THAT is the culprit, not the economy. The I WANT IT NOW attitude was around before the recession--I saw it all too often. It's why people will send their horse to a trainer for 30 days and expect to get back a perfectly trained horse that they can ride only on weekends and it will be perfect all the time. It's very rare when someone actually wants to take the time to learn or work with their horse properly. I have learned how to weed out the bad'uns in my life myself--I cannot stand people who will not take horsemanship seriously, only because it wastes my time and efforts. I will only work with people who are serious and have long-term goals that we can obtain through partnering with our horses. People can't be forced to think that way, though--they have to make the decision on their own. All we can do is be polite to their face and let them see that there is a better choice. Then we just snark about them behind their backs on this blog when we need to vent. ;)

cattypex said...



Exact same numbers for me, though I'm still in the "before" stage.

I try veryveryvery hard to not "walk fat." You know, that odd leaned-back posture and waddle you described. I pitch forward slightly, without slumping my shoulders.

Teenagers need posture lessons all over the place. I want to poke them in the back like my mom always did. I never understood the billowy shirts that reiners wear (or wore) - it makes them look hunchy.

It's sad that you have to be supergeeky now to want to be a HORSEMAN rather than simply a RIDER.

horsndogluvr said...

Cattypex and Katphoti, it looks like we're all on the same journey.

Yeah, the center of gravity changes. That's why I came off the last two horses I rode: top-heavy. My CG used to be right in the saddle. That's where my muscle memory expected it to be. It also affected the way I fell. Result: a bad concussion, and broken ribs. I'm going to have to beg buy or borrow a "confidence builder" before I get on my gelding... Yeah, I want my CG to get back down to my a$$.

BECG, pleeeze tell us you're overweight, too... It would make me feel better! ;)

I'm taking it easy, this time. No programs, no major lifestyle changes, no list of rules. I've been on a LOT of diets in my time, from WW, Atkins, starvation, etc. For my nature, they give me too many ways to fail. Enough failures and I give up. So I have two rules: eat less, exercise more. No rules about what I eat or what exercise I get. My outlook has changed to "progress, not perfection," so I don't worry about failure, and praise myself when I stick to my rules.

My horses like it, since grooming is great aerobic exercise, when done right! And when I start doing the groundwork, that means a lot of good, healthy walking! And I found a workout done in a chair, and leg exercises for riders.

I found a Yahoo group called, "Does My Butt Look Big In This Saddle?" LOL. But it gets way off topic.

Hey, let's get some of those bad barrel riders to whip us around the pattern! That'll get us fit! ;D


ZTIG said...

oh, oh, me too. Me too. Can I join?

I have never been skinny. I have to fight to stay in a size ten to twelve. Diet and exercise,and I am still fighting to stay in those sizes, always have. I have that crappy low metabolism which also includes a low body temp (my average is 96.8. Try explaining that to a doctor, when you actually have a bad fever at 99) Add to that I have short legs. Yup, it's a fun club.

cattypex said...

ZTIG... it's been a dozen years since I've seen a 10 !

I remember in Jumping Clinic once, George Morris was a little critical of a heavy rider, and mentioned that riding alone wasn't enough exercise - that he works out at the gym daily as well.

*sigh* Darn.

But TELL ME that posting without stirrups for a jillion laps isn't aerobic!

Cut-N-Jump said...

As the masses may know, I have deemed my current condition as Humpty Frumpty. The weight is all packed in the poochy belly, jelly roll. No the twins did not help that either.

The boobs have always been a hindrance as their size tends to make some of us hunch over in an effort to 'hide' them. Don't bother to try, it doesn't work. So before I can compete again- (shooting for September so I gotta get off my ass and do something!) I need to get down to a decent weight for me.

The boob thing has also led to me twisting when I post and dropping my shoulder when asking for a canter depart. Dropped shoulder = blown lead. Ugh!

I always thought "I would just DIE! if the numbers on the scale ever hit _____." Let me tell you all, those numbers have changed so many times I can't keep track. First it was 120. Yeah if I hit that, I'm doing something about it. Then 130, 140 and 150... Now its to the point that my "Goal" has become 120. WTF! Is that some sort of sick joke?

My mare just got her feet done, she is being lunged this first two weeks befor I get on her and the two of us are getting back into shape together. I try to jog with her on the shortened lunge line. Teaches her that people running beside her is fine, pay attention to me, don't crowd, rate off of me and plenty of things to keep her focused and get us both moving along.

Where food is concerned-
One of the programs I watched while the girls were itty bitty was about a girl with mermaid syndrome. First they wanted her to eat, now she has weight issues. Now they are trying to get the extra weight off. First thing out of her mouth, "You're going to tell me what I can't have!"

Her wonderfully insightful doctor told her, "Let's focus instead on the new things you CAN have." What a great way to look at it. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of diet, look at all the good things you Can have instead.

It sure made grocery shopping easier for us and we find we are spending more time in the produce section vs. the 'heat it and eat it' frozen foods. Guess what? Not only are we both noticing the numbers on the scale going down, but the total at the check out did too. Definate Win / Win!

I'm still working on reducing the boobs and the gut they call their support system, but not having the home version of crappy fast food around is a big help. Can't be tempted by what isn't there.

BECG- My brother had dirtbikes growing up and has merely moved up to larger ones in his adult life. I rode them growing up and gained a healthy respect for them. There's another place you don't see overweight riders at the top in competition. It's a lot of work too!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Hate to tell ya hndl, but I'm not overweight. I used to struggle with my weight when I was in high school. So I CAN relate.

These days, since I'm no longer in my 20's and just a few months away from kissing my 30's good-bye too, I do find that I have to work on my abdominals and inner thighs EVERY spring so that when I can get back to riding regularly, I'm not soft and floppy.;) I hate it, but I do it.

But I can't believe you guys forgot about "Mr. Santa Claus" himself...Tim McQuay! About the only fat guy I know who still manages to look like million bucks when he rides and slides. His daughter, Mandy is no light-weight either. So it CAN be done.

I'm out of here for a few days...The Sturgis Bike Rally cattyplex referenced is calling my name.:O

ZTIG said...

BECG That's Brother Whites rider right?
I've been trying to think of his freaking name all day.

Andrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
katphoti said...

Good points about weight, ladies, ALL of them. I love hearing your stories.

I also had a verbally/emotionally abusive mother, who would say really nasty things to me concerning weight and beauty. Like I would say why don't I have a boyfriend when my (ugly) cousin does? She would say well maybe if you wore a dress once in a while... UGH. I know now that she thought she was helping, but really she was making things worse.

I was also anorexic in college, so speaking from experience, DO NOT go that route! Sometimes I could not walk because my muscles were wasting, and I was below 95 lbs before I admitted I had a problem.

WW has been great for me--it actually makes me feel like I CAN eat just about anything, as long as I don't go overboard. Exercise is coming next, though--I bought a beach cruiser bike and once I have a few more pounds off, I'll be on the roads. I discovered that I couldn't haul myself around when I was 206 on a bike, so I wanted to lose some weight first before I start back up with it again. But of course, WW doesn't work for everyone. But WW DOES have frozen ice cream treats in the frozen section that are just heaven that are low in points, so I am definitely allowed to have those!

I hear you on the boobs, CNJ--one of my best friends got a boob reduction done for that very reason. She was extremely top heavy and could hardly ride--she'd have to wear THREE sports bras to even begin to be comfortable.

Okay, off to eat some WW ice cream! :)

ZTIG said...

I have heard of women having to wear multiple sports bras when they ride. I couldn't even imagine. I think I would reduce them just for that reason. Stories like that make me appreciate my B cups all that much more. :)

cattypex said...

OK... when I was a size 6/8 and weighed 120 lbs., I was pushing out of a D cup.

Years of prednisone and not being able to eat fruits/vegetables/any roughage at ALL definitely shaped my eating habits... I simply FORGET to eat fruits & vegetables, and I have some really strong food dislikes when it comes to onions & peppers.

So I'm still re-tooling, but going back to WW quite simply keeps my mind on it better.

I wonder if the supersizing of Arabs & QHs and the popularity of "tall" breeds like Friesians have something to do with American's getting bigger?

Remember when 16 hands was TALL? And if you bought something called a "Quarterhorse Trailer" then it was a little on the petite side?

Cut-N-Jump said...

cattypex said...
OK... when I was a size 6/8 and weighed 120 lbs., I was pushing out of a D cup.

Ahem. *cough* Been there. *cough*

I was a size 4/6 with a D. Buying bras is a real bitch. Is there some unwritten rule that says if your chest measurement is this _____ your boobs do not exceed a certain cup size? Yep, 34 D was and is fairly non existent unless you go to a specialty shop and fork over a pile of cash.

In light of the opinion that bras were invented by men, I think this rule is one of theirs also. Since the twins, I just try not to think about it. Smash 'em as flat as you can and keep on riding.

I haven't resorted to wearing two or more bras to ride. If it gets that bad, I may just buy a roll of duct tape! I'll warn everyone first so you can all buy stock and get rich.

I do however have three pair of low rise breeches in the closet. They hit just below the 'jelly roll' of a gut. Lovely! If that isn't motivation to tone and tighten things up, I don't know what is! Everything jiggles with each step, no matter the gait.

Sorry Maus to take your blog so far off focus, but if you would grant us a new post now and then, we may be more likely and able to stay on track!

cattypex said...

Well, I don't think me and my 38G gals will be doing barrels anything soon... :P

I DO wear 2 bras for riding, and have considered investing in an Enell.

Lo Rise is not for me. Except I'm so damn short-waisted, it's Regular Rise on me!!

Yet ANOTHER good reason to ride with good contact... when you have to WHOA, you don't hit yourself in the boobs. Sorry boys.... TMI I'm sure.

TJM.... post us some good contesting videos before this deteriorates any further!!!! ; )

horsndogluvr said...

Yeah! How about the ever-increasing price of showing?

(I don't want to write about my "girls," because I'm afraid, after I lose the weight, they'll be 34 longs!)


GoLightly said...

Barrels to boobies.

who knew??

cattypex said...

Well... most barrel racers HAVE boobies, y'know.

; )

I remember when they all had Farrah Fawcett Feathered Hair, and white fake straw cowboy hats with pastel airbrushing.... and matching fluffy roach clips hanging off the back.

I had a roach clip, but it was natural brown feathers. No fluff. If I was on the Facts of Life, I'd be Jo.

Every rider needs that initial Horrible Boot Camp stage at the beginning, where you do many tedious physical things to develop muscle memory - riding without stirrups, trotting forever, all that good stuff. Instructors used to be filled with sadistic glee during those sessions. "Did I SAY you could stop posting with your arms up in the air? I DON"T THINK SO!!!!!!"

There's some merit to serving a stint under a real drill instructor type at the beginning.

horsndogluvr said...

My first instructor wasn't a drill sergeant - he was a Colonel, U.S. Cavalry, Ret. We loved him and respected him. I got a really good set of basics from him; and the more I learn about the U.S. Cavalry and dressage, the more I realize just how good those basics were. We only went in circles until we developed enough balance not to fall off when the horses turned. Then we did serpentines and small circles - which taught me about flexion, even if I didn't know the term. We even did some easy group riding patterns, like the wheel.

We also learned the basics like grooming, feeding, leading, and tack fitting.

Aah, I feel better. I know it's off topic, but I've been wanting to write him a paean for a while.

RIP, Col. Ford E. Young, Jr.


Cut-N-Jump said...

GL thanks for the comment on the other blog about this one. Good riding is basic no matter the chosen sport. And yes I am childishly laughing at you comment of Barrels to Boobies. Who knew? Cracking up!

CP- there are days I find my riding is just Lousy! I feel the need and ask to go back on the lunge line, focus on me and do those exercises. It helps my shoulders, pulls me out of the 'football hunch' position and keeps me from screwing things up for the sake of my good horse.

Jedi's Mom asked me via email, about exercises I do to get me back into shape for riding and if I have gotten my 'bod' back since the twinlets. Sorry, no, but if I get to choose the new one I'm making some changes. ;D

GoLightly said...

Oh, CNJ, I have some nasty ones.

I mean good ones;)

For keeping/getting less immune to age.
Based in dance and yoga.

horsndogluvr said...

OT, I know... one I do all the time (since I spend so much time on the puter) is "chair sit-ups." Sit towards the front of your chair, spine straight. Without bending at the waist, lean back slowly and come back up slowly. Make a conscious effort to tighten your thighs so your feet are just resting on the floor, not supporting your weight.

Also see here:

Strengthening my core,


Cut-N-Jump said...

GL- I do a lot of yoga based exercises but there never seems to be enough time in the day...

I also have a small number of exercises I run through once mounted to help me deepen my seat, lengthen my leg, bring my shoulders back and of course breath and relax. Those last two are the first to go, toughest to remember and usually bring the biggest results.

cattypex said...

I like going around the arena with my eyes closed, feet out of stirrups and arms out in "Appeal to thte Great Spirit." Don't worry a bout where the horse is going...

In my next life I will be 5'8" , 125 lbs,, 34B. And a 32" inseam.

With long black wavy hair that looks awesome in a big fat braid.

horsndogluvr said...

LOL, Cattypex!

In my college days, I was 5'8", 155 lbs,, 34C, And a 32" inseam. With long ... wavy hair...

I still have the long hair, though it's thinning and gray. And I've got 2 155's, plus some. I guess I still have the 32 inseam.

I'll settle for 220, 36 long, and being able to wear jeans again, instead of "stretch denim."

And, of course, riding as much as possible.

Here's to coming as close as we want to getting our youth back! We're all in this together!


NewHorseMommy said...

I've never posted here before, but I HIGHLY recommend the Enell.

40DD, and thank god I am very tall, and the weight is more or less evenly distributed!

I weight about 90 lbs more than I did in high school (20 years ago), and would be overjoyed if I lost half that at my age.

The Enell feels like a torture device, but it WORKS! At a certain size, there is going to be some movement regardless of what you have on, but the Enell holds everything in (and still) pretty well. The seams of the bra do show through the shirt though. I wear a tank top over it and under the shirt.

hunterseat said...

Maybe I'm a wimp but I started to cry watching that 3rd video, the first accident one. I had to stop. I don't really get barrels, always thought it was NOT a good sport from the horse's perspective. At least I know now not everyone appears abusive. thanks

Bonnie said...

i think what irks me most about gamers is the fact that the BITS they use are often torture devices in and of themselves... always claiming that the bit 'lifts the shoulder - well, balance in turning comes from TRAINING and balanced RIDING, not from a hunk of metal in the horse's mouth. if a racer didn't hang onto the horn (one thing that WILL eventually get you tossed) then their horse wouldn't drop their shoulder. a horse playing in the field learns quickly that dropping his shoulder when he's cavorting around means he takes a nasty slip.

anyway, off htat little rabbit trail. one thing i see *consistently* by barrel racers, even up to the pro level - is *yanking* on those jawbreaking, tongue slicing bits that are often some form of curb bit... and they're DIRECT REINING! on SEVERE LEVERAGE BITS. it's really honest to goodness no surprise that these horses throw such incredible fits, lose their balance, and wreck - you combine torturous tack, high speed, and bad, imbalanced riding and of course you're going to have wrecks! that and they breed racers to be as hot hot hot as they can so they're fast. hanging on the horn as your butt trails behind in the air is NOT riding! i only wish they got docked in the time for bad riding.

Bonnie said...

i think what irks me most about gamers is the fact that the BITS they use are often torture devices in and of themselves... always claiming that the bit 'lifts the shoulder - well, balance in turning comes from TRAINING and balanced RIDING, not from a hunk of metal in the horse's mouth. if a racer didn't hang onto the horn (one thing that WILL eventually get you tossed) then their horse wouldn't drop their shoulder. a horse playing in the field learns quickly that dropping his shoulder when he's cavorting around means he takes a nasty slip.

anyway, off htat little rabbit trail. one thing i see *consistently* by barrel racers, even up to the pro level - is *yanking* on those jawbreaking, tongue slicing bits that are often some form of curb bit... and they're DIRECT REINING! on SEVERE LEVERAGE BITS. it's really honest to goodness no surprise that these horses throw such incredible fits, lose their balance, and wreck - you combine torturous tack, high speed, and bad, imbalanced riding and of course you're going to have wrecks! that and they breed racers to be as hot hot hot as they can so they're fast. hanging on the horn as your butt trails behind in the air is NOT riding! i only wish they got docked in the time for bad riding.

freezemarked said...

I couldn't possibly agree more. Barrel racing in my area is a religion... because for most of these people, it's the only class they can win in, as it apparently requires no real riding skills. It's amazing to me how often horse and rider go down while turning a barrel, and that it doesn't happen more often with how consistently off-balance and often behind the riders are. I'll be the first to say that I'm not the world's greatest rider, but I look like Richard freaking Spooner next to most barrel racers I've seen.

The most impressive bit of horsemanship I've seen lately was at a local schooling show. A young woman was entering the arena for a barrel run on what I gathered was a horse she'd very recently purchased. Despite at least half a dozen other competitors -- who appeared to be her friends -- giving her an incredible amount of shit for not letting her horse tear around the barrels like a demon, she refused to do it. I heard her tell one of them that the horse had already been "run to death" by the previous owners and she wasn't going to make it worse. She walked that mare in and she kept her at a nice easy trot all the way around the pattern, and then rewarded the horse lavishly for taking it slow. When that mare walked out of the arena, on a loose rein and with her head down, it looked like it was the first time in years that she'd gone anywhere at a pace other than a flat-out run.

I've got to give that girl props not just for her handling of the situation but for buying a horse that was trained on barrels in the first place. In this area, at least, if a sale ad says a horse has been started on or competed on barrels, I wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole. It seems to be a remarkably fast process for the local barrel racers to turn perfectly sane horses into wired-up bundles of neurosis.

barreljumper said...

As a barrel racer myself, I see a lot of these problems out there. I just don't understand why people don't take the time to properly train a barrel horse. I have had three barrel horses all of which loved their job. My current seasoned barrel horse gets excited to go in the ring.

I work with younger children learning how to barrel race. It's amazing to me how these children can go for lessons elsewhere and not learn anything about equitation and properly sitting on a horse. I'm constantly trying to teach them the basics (heels down, toes up).You have to know how to ride before speed gets added, but so many times I see kids just hop on a horse a go. It's just an accident waiting to happen.

What I noticed in the videos were all of the horses running off after their rider had been dumped. I have had a couple of unavoidable accidents(my horse tried jumping the barrel), but my horse patiently stood there waiting for me to get up. She didn't take off like a maniac. It's not hard to teach a horse to stop when the rider falls off so I don't understand the problem.

As for helmets, I love wearing my helmet. The same accident with the barrel, I was very thankful I had a helmet on. One time I didn;t wear a helmet and I felt so weird! However, I do respect people's decision to not wear helmets, but it only takes one accident.

BarrelRacinZeus said...

I barrel race an i catch myself doing some of these things everyonce in a while. Some barrel women just weren't taught correctly how to ride their horse or were self taught and they did what ever worked for them and their horse.
But if you notice most of these comments are coming for English riders and there are plenty of things that are wrong with what they do but its not all of them and there are barrel racers that are really good and they have really good relationships with their horses. They kick and whip there horse and its OK to do this as long as you're not making them bleed or tender in that spot. If your doing that thats when you know your hurting the horse and making it unpleasant to do their job thats when they start bucking and rearing.
And for those of you who think that in the first video those horses didn't want to go in the arena your wrong. The girls are holding them back while the horse is trying to run because they LOVE to run because when they make it out of the arena and get a good pat from their partner they know they have done a good job. If they didnt want to do it they would most definatly show you they dont want to they would either just stand completely still, rear, or try to run clear away from the arena like some of those horses in the accident video and there are two reasons a horse would rear before running either you are making them do something they really dont want to do or they are ready to light the fire and run and you are holding them back.
Yall need to open your eyes and realize there are good and bad riders in both disciplines not just barrel racing.

April said...

Now I am by no mean defending any of these riders. Some falls just happen. Some of the ring sourness also just happens. My horse runs in a simple d ring snaffle, no spurs, no whips and i by no means believe in being cruel yet still some days he decides he does not want to go in the ring for whatever reason and jumps around for a second then goes on in. He is a well rounded riding horse, going on trail rides, teaching lessons and we also jump and show pony hunters. For the horses bucking, did you notice the spurs on almost all the riders? I would buck too if I had those huge spurs digging into my sides. The bouncing is crazy, obviously you shouldn't be barrel racing if you can't SIT in your seat. You can run in a half seat position and still maintain keeping your toes up in a western saddle if your stirrups are set right so maybe those riders should think about that?? LOL I don't understand why all these horses are so out of control they have to have bits that make you just want to fall in a hole and die when you think about putting that into your horses mouth. A quiet seat and some calm hands and aids would fix their problems. It's a shame to see what the horse world is becoming.

turnnburn36 said...

You obviously have never been on a barrel horse before, nor do you know anything about them. Your foul language and ignorance tell the tale... I've ridden hunter/jumpers for many years, as well as barrel horses (45 years in the horse industry), and I enjoy both very much. Both disciplines require totally different riding styles and training. You cannot ride a barrel horse in an English fashion and keep your heels down and your butt in the saddle... it's IMPOSSIBLE at those speeds. Granted there are those riders that can be heavy handed, but most are actually quite light. It just doesn't seem that way in the videos. These pro caliber barrel horses that you see in the videos are very powerful and quick. They are NOT quietly cantering around, in-frame, around a hunter course or on a trail ride in which you have time to think about your seat or leg position. These ladies that you see in the videos are very good riders and know what they are doing. In fact, some of them actually started out riding hunter/jumpers and dressage (and were very successful) until they switched over to barrel racing. So until you've actually ridden a good barrel horse, do the horse industry a favor and please keep your foul language and mis-informed comments to yourself until you actually know what you're talking about.

horsegirl123456 said...

not all barrel racers are bad and some horses love doing this when their owners are calm about it and don't push! Stop hating on all rodeo sports!!!

Alex Stok said...

I experienced much the same thing that you did, although my issues due to an eating disorder. I was anorexic in high school which turned to bulemia (which go figure screwed up my metabolism something awful) and I ended up gaining a lot of weight and my bulemia continued to get out of control. My riding suffered I also was much less balenced. After seeking treatment I follow a meal plan catered to me and see a personal traine. After so long I finally am starting to feel like me again! I LOVE to barrel race and once again my horse and I are doing fantastic! Although I have to say I NEVER use spurs or a whip I don't believe in beating my horse to make him do his job and it bothers me to see so many high level barrel racers do this... my horse enters the arena calm and quiet and he turns with just the slightest rein pressure. ..why...bc I don't over work him, I don't beat him around the pattern and we do tons and tons of slow work. When running barrels your horse needs to know where your going to be and needs you not to interfere with his face , so bouncing on his back and jerking his face around is very poor horsemanship and training. I am very proud to say my horse and I are currently outrunning some gals that run pro:) I credit my horse though because he's got such heart he loves his job and ALWAYS gives his all. He has never once spazzed out at the gate, bucked or reared. He is truly amazing and I am so blessed to have such a wonderful partner!

bluemooner said...

Well here's a new one ya........ and it points out a huge problem that is really an age old problem. PARENTS and ANYTHING FOR A WIN ! I call it the Little League Syndrome....

This was posted by Randy McKinnis on Facebook.

At my age I don’t often see things that make me say “no way” but it happened yesterday. We have been involved in barrel racing and rodeo for a while now and have met some really great people. Recently, we have been in a barrel racing series called “Jingle All the Way” at Lone Wolf Arena. We participated in the youth portion of this series. It was a six-week series and the winners of the 1D, 2D, 3D, 4D would receive buckles. I think this is great because it lets riders regardless of skill levels participate; 1D being the fastest, add a half second and that is the 2D winning time and so on. For the last six weeks, these young ladies have raced no matter how cold and gave it their best. These girls ages range from 9 – 18 years old.
Here comes the “no way” part; yesterday two girls that are in high school used their phones to calculate the time needed to run to win the 2D and the 3D. So instead of running in the 16 second range they ran 21 plus times while holding their phones to make sure they “hit” the time needed. NO WAY! While I admire their ability to use technology REALLY? These girls are smart, pretty, and can ride a horse! Why not use your natural talents instead of technology? It appears it only took a little over 21 seconds for them to lose the respect of their peers. They knocked out some deserving young girls. But wait it gets better- where are their parents? I can understand poor judgement from a high schooler…… anything for a buckle? I say NO WAY
Wait it gets even better, how about the promoters? They knew what they did and gave them buckles anyway. They said it wasn’t in the rules that “you couldn’t slow down and use your phone”. Does it really need to be in the rule book? NO WAY
So the next time there is a barrel race by D and B Productions at Lone Wolf Arena I will just say “NO WAY”
So here to my NO WAY WINNERS from yesterday
As we all know Karma is a B****