The Need For Speed
By Sue Heins
You might not think you have it in you, but once you try the three barrel thing, you are hooked. I got three friends into it just this year, and one was a Pleasure rider for ever. She never thought she'd ever like to go fast, but she just sold her slow rider for a barrel prospect and they are going to learn it all together.
You most definitely don't want to start out fast. I got a new horse after I had to put my barrel horse down. For me, going slow was the hardest thing to do, but for him, I did it. For the whole first season all we did was walk trot. I taught him all the patterns. Once he learned them we started moving a little faster, the speed will come. The second year we were cantering through them consistently.
I've seen so many people bring in green horses and let them go. They don't do so well jerking the poor horses head around at a full gallop. My horse and I have been doing it for years now and he loves it. Make it fun for your horse and it'll be funner for you.
Basically, you can either go Right, Left, Left or Left, Right, Right. You will find that your horse turns better in one direction, so make that turn your second and third, it'll go smoother. I went one direction on my previous horse but my new one went better in the other direction, so it was me that had to learn to change.
When you get up to the barrel you want to check him in just a touch in the
opposite direction to "get ready" for the turn. It also keeps him from running into or get to close to the barrel, knocking it over either disqualifies you or adds 10 seconds depending on where you ride.
It's so much fun, and if you take your time to learn and teach your horse, it's something you can love to do together.
I love it, and the way my horse goes in excited to run, I know he does too.