Can your horse live up to your expectations?
Maybe you raised him. Maybe you bought him as a youngster and are personally attached. Maybe he is out of your old great mare? Have you tied all your hopes and barrel racing dreams to this horse of yours? Are you being let down?
Are you looking at this horse with emotional goggles on? It is hard and somewhat rare for a horse that was not bred to be a barrel horse to become a great one. You cannot make a square peg fit in a round hole. Maybe you should take him to a trainer for evaluation to see if he has what it takes to fulfill your dreams. The trainer will have no emotional ties to your horse and no ego where he is concerned either. Most professional trainers will not charge you much for an evaluation, so this may be a good route for you to take.
You know, I could never have been an Olympic skater or track star. Just possibly your horse is cut out to do something different than what you have planned.
Does your horse have the desire that you do?
If I had my choice between talent and try, I would choose TRY every time. If a horse does not want to do something, you are not going to be able to make him and neither will a trainer.
Some horses will work well at a slower speed or at home in the practice pen, but when you take him to a barrel race he seems to not want to cooperate. Maybe, he is better suited for another job. Or possibly he is going as fast as he can and you are ready for a horse with more speed. In this case, let him go to a rider that is ready for a horse like him and you can go and find a quicker one.
If I put from 60 to 90 days on a prospect and he does not seem to improve, he may just be telling me that he does not want to be a barrel horse. On the other hand, if I have a horse that keeps getting even a little bit better, then I will figure he may just have the “try” necessary to become that next great barrel horse – I will give him a chance.
Does he scare you?
I know you know the answer to this. If I am always afraid that my horse may buck or grab his rear and run off, I will not be able to get that out of my head and ride very well. If I am so worried that he is going to buck between barrels or duck in front of one, I will be anticipating this happening and that anticipation may even cause it to happen.
Barrel racing is supposed to be fun, and it can be lots. But, you may just need to put your ego in check and let your horse go to someone else that he does not scare, or who gets along with him better than you. There are a lot of nice barrel horses out there and there is one out there for you.
The other side of the coin is, if your horse has been doing good and then suddenly starts acting up, acting bad, or being scary, he may be trying to tell you something. He may be sore or hurting somewhere. I do not believe that a good horse just wakes up one day and decides to be bad. There are so many things that I have learned over the years about this subject. It could be his teeth, or his back, or his feet or legs. The first and best place you could go to eliminate any of these would be your vet. Rather than fighting your horse, just maybe he needs a barrel break So go and do something else. Maybe trail ride or chase cattle or just about anything other than barrels. Just try to change things up and see if this makes him better
Does your horse lack the heart necessary to be a winner?
A horse without this will quit you when you need him most. Does he not work well when the ground is less than perfect or the conditions are not great? Does he not cut off the clock when he is tired or has missed his feeding time or has had a long haul to get to the barrel race? Is he inconsistent?
Did he run well for his previous owner or someone else other than you? Is he always looking for the easy way out or how to cheat you? Just maybe you need to find a horse that will not take advantage of you when your name has been called and the pressure is on. He may also not have the training you need. A young or inexperienced horse needs an experienced rider and a young or inexperienced rider needs an experienced horse. Good, honest barrel horses are out there – don’t get frustrated.
Does he make awesome runs at home but not when you have paid your entry fee?
He works like a champ in the practice run, but not very often in the actual barrel race. He may anticipate or get really hot in the alley or do other ugly things that scare you. Just maybe a professional trainer could help you out. Just maybe your horse is not tolerant if his rider’s timing is not perfect. This horse may just need more training. But, don’t let it get you down. There are horses out there that will fit you to a T.
Does he have maintenance that you cannot keep up with?
If your horse hurts and has health issues that you cannot afford, or don’t know how, to keep up with, then he needs to find a new home where they can keep him maintained. Maybe he needs joint injections or special shoeing or other types of medicine that is very costly.
There are a few issues that are common in barrel horses that may be more than you want to contend with. Like Lasix or other medicine for a bleeder. Does he have PSSM? Do you have to manage a tie up problem? Does he have allergies that you cannot handle? Of course there is a long laundry list of things that some may not want to deal with. If this is the case, then of course you need to find your horse a home where he either will not have to do much or they can deal with his maintenance.
Be honest with yourself. If your horse cannot do what you want and live up to your expectations, find him a new owner. One who can take care of him and their goals match his abilities. Or, you can always change your own goals, but I don’t really know of many competitive barrel racers that can do this well.
God bless, and remember barrel racing is fun!