Barrel racing is the ladies event of rodeo. In barrel racing, a woman rides her horse around a clover leaf pattern in the fastest time to win. Any barrels knocked over during the run will add five seconds on to her time. This may sound very simple but it is not. It requires great training and communication between you and your horse. A successful barrel racing run requires a correct approach to the barrel, a quick turn and an incredible series of starts and stops. One does not simply enter the arena and make a great run. It requires a great deal of work and practice, along with the right equipment.
One of the first things you need is the proper equipment. Most barrel racing competitors prefer a light saddle because lighter weight means a faster run. Next you need a bit and bridle that is comfortable to your horse and gives you control. Most horses will want to take hold of the bit and run but you need to be able to rein them in and get them to gather themselves in between and around the barrels. Training barrel racing reins can really help your horse to develop a good bend and flex, not only in their necks but in their whole bodies.
Bending and flexing is a series of exercise that can be done anywhere. Begin by setting your horse out straight. After walking a few paces, reach halfway down the rein and bring your fist to your hip while applying pressure to your horse's side with your heel. Your horse will fight a little but do not release their head until your horse gives its head to you. The moment that happens, release the rein. Practice on both sides until your horse responds quickly and easily and your can see and feel their body curve around your leg. Bending and flexing exercises will help them to slip around the barrels. You also need to be careful that your horse doesn't develop the habit of dropping a shoulder on the turn because that is a sure fire way to hit a barrel and add seconds to your time. A lot of barrel racers also like to use barrel racing reins with extra braiding or knotting to increase their grip on the rein for better turns. Racing reins.
Be sure your horse's legs are protected. You usually need shin splints and bell boots at least. If your horse has a really hard, deep stop, you might want to think about adding rear skid boots as well. Using an over and under whip can really help to get a little extra speed out on the final run home. Following these steps will set you on your way to becoming a great barrel racer.