Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Trouble with new barrel horse

Hi, I just recently got a 6 y/o Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred cross finished barrel racing horse. Sometimes if I ask him to whoa & stand still he will rear a little bit. He will also do this when I back him up sometimes. I don't hang onto his head but tell him "easy" & get the reins a little taught & loosen them. I don't want his little popping up to actually turn into rearing. How can I keep him from popping up? Thanks.

Also I don't know if your a fan of barrel racing or not but he tends to turn really wide on the 3rd barrel, even when I kick with my outside leg to keep him in.

How can I keep him in a pocket?


Hi There,

Thanks for your question. Barrel horses, rope horses and most any horse that is in competation where they have to 'break from a box' easily get into "popping up" from being trained a bit too aggressively. They get very nervous about the box. They anticipate the fast break and are already trying to 'break' even when approaching the box. A way to modify his behavior is to get him used to being in the box and being calm about it. Take him to the arena when you are not competing. Calmly go in and out of the 'box' a lot. If he pops up have him do tight turns around an inside leg (both directions and serveral rotations). Then ask him to stand quietly. If he does not, bend him around an inside leg again and repeat until he understands that he rests when he does not pop up and works doing tight circles when he does. You want him to break very fast of course, so you will need to begin to retain a bit for the fast break. If your horse is the nervous type to begin with, he may start to pop up again. Finding a place of balance and still keeping the competative edge is not easy. Generally, I find most folks keep their horse on the 'edge' a lot as they think they can win more if they do. They think a nervous horse is a faster horse. I don't agree. A nervous horse is not focused. Appropriate training is the answer. Like with a human athlete, proper training does not make a nervous, hyper individual. Most desirable is a calm, focused, very in shape person, who has a competative edge through their being centered and focused. It is the same for a horse. First calm your horse, then take him slowly through whatever the course is. Gradually build the speed until you are both focused, centered, in shape and ready to rock and not just hyper, nervous and all over the place. This is the core of the problem of your horse swinging wide as well. Slow it all down, get it perfect when done slowly and then increase the speed. Then you will really have a winning combination.

Good Luck and please keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

Look for: