When you go on the hunt for a barrel horse or a barrel horse prospect, it can be hit or miss. I know this. Besides the speed necessary, your ideal horse needs to be athletic, sound and trainable. He must be easy to live with. These things are not easy to tell in a trial run on an unfamiliar horse. I know that feeling too.
To make this easier, I have a list of questions you can ask. Starting at the first phone call to the seller of a horse, continuing through more steps that end in a test ride. There are questions that need to be asked and behaviors that need to be observed. With this checklist you will be able to create a list of pluses and minuses.
Positive thinking works. If you believe you are a winner, you will be a winner. Being a winner doesn’t mean winning every time you enter, it means knowing that you are prepared, learning from each run to help you improve the next one, and being a gracious person, win or lose is what makes you a real winner.
There are at least three different ways to work a horse on the barrel pattern. Conformation and athletic ability determine which is effective on each horse. I have to ride a horse for awhile to get a feel for which may suit him the best. Each horse seems to be born with his own style.
Some barrel racers send their horses out to reining horse trainers to have a better handle and a stop put on them before being started on the barrels. At the Stairs Ranch, we start our own horses and believe that a horse should be well broke in all five of the body parts (poll, neck, shoulder, ribs, hip). But, a horse must have a barrel horse stop before it runs barrels.