Barrel Horse Burned Out? Time to Rethink Your Routine

September 08, 2020
 man riding barrel horse on mountain trail

Burnout can sour even the best barrel racer, and it can ruin a run or an entire season. You may still be waiting for the first race of the season, but it’s possible for your horse to get burned out simply running the pattern in practice. Consider these ways to help give your barrel horse a mental break and keep burnout at bay.

Practice Skills, Not the Pattern

It’s tempting to run a pattern again and again until you can perfect it, but this habit can make your horse bored or get him so used to the pattern that he starts to tune you out during the run. Instead, deconstruct the pattern and work only on skills or certain parts of it. If your horse is drifting and you’re struggling to get a refined run in, work on developing suppleness and responsiveness away from the barrels. You can make almost any element of a run into an exercise so that you and your horse can improve your skills without endlessly running the pattern.

Slow Down

Speed matters in competitions, but you don’t have to go all-out in your runs at home. Rather than running the pattern, trot it or lope it. This literal change of pace can be refreshing, and it can also keep your horse excited when it’s time to actually run the pattern.

Get Out of the Arena

When it comes to conditioning work, try to get out into a new setting to change things up for your horse. Hill work and trail riding are great ways to develop muscle and strength that will benefit your barrel horse during a race — and they’re fun, too.

Change Things Up

Try to make schooling sessions different and interesting. Ask your trainer to give you different exercises that you can work on with your horse so you can vary your rides through the week. Add new elements to the arena, like ground poles and cones, so you have some extra tools to work with to vary your training sessions.

Try Something New

It’s often easy to get hyper-focused on riding goals, but that focus can bore your horse. Don’t forget the advantages that cross-training can provide for barrel racing. Take some lessons with a Western dressage trainer to improve your horse’s responsiveness and your use of your aides. Focusing on a different discipline can be a refreshing break, but you’ll be developing skills that will apply to barrel racing, too.

Head Off-Property

Your horse may come to associate trailer rides with going to barrel races, so try to change that up. Load up your horse and go off-property to a trail ride, or meet friends for a laid-back ride at their barn.

By changing things up for your horse, you’re investing in his mental health so he’ll be prepared and ready to put in his best performance when you next compete. Don’t forget that EPO-Equine can also help to give your barrel horse a competitive advantage. This blood building formula can help to optimize your horse’s oxygen levels for improved speed, strength and endurance when it matters most. Best of all, it’s safe, effective and legal — and because it won’t test, you can use it confidently. Try it now with our 90-day money-back guarantee and see what it can do for your barrel horse’s performance.

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