I have spent a large part of my life training Barrel Futurity horses. It has been a very satisfying and humbling experience. I have been very blessed to get to do what I love to do for a living.
I usually start a pretty broke 2 year old in the fall--ride and work on just having a soft mouth and a willing attitude. I might trot them around the barrels, but nothing serious, at that time.
When a colt turns 3, we go forward with our training. The very first thing that we work on is moving out with forward motion. It is my experience, that you should never work one with any speed until you do this step.
Get your colt to understand what you are asking him to do, and keep doing this until he is comfortable with it. Then when you approach the barrel, use this step to teach your colt proper position going into the barrel.
The next step that we do is to teach the colt to rate the barrel. Every horse is different; some just have natural rate, while others have none. Just get to know what amount of rate is needed for your colt. Do more stopping at your point of rate on more free-wheeling colts, and less-to not any stopping on colts that want to do it on their own. My point of rate is right at the barrel, with my leg a little past the barrel and the horse’s hip at the barrel.
I like to have a colt lope a perfect circle--correct nose and shoulder position, with slow, steady strides--big and small, with no cheating to the inside or fading to the outside. This is sometimes difficult, but your colt will eventually learn what you are asking it to do. This in turn, helps your colt to be in this position, when you add speed.
I would say to instill these steps in your colt, try to be consistent in your training, and keep the faith that you are doing the best for your colt. Not every colt makes a futurity horse, we have had horses that didn’t win a dime at the futurities, but went on to be NFR horses. My goal with each horse I start, is for them to be as successful as they can be. My ultimate goal is to have a well broke, sound, sane, smooth individual that will enjoy running the barrels for years and years.
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