Balancing Your Ride

Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Rodeo

I know that I have talked a lot about being precise, and consistent, making a plan. But it occurs to me every time I head to the warm up pen at a barrel race, that most folks tend to go left a lot more than right. It got me thinking: Why is this? Is it because everything we do on this side of the world, we do counter-clockwise? We drive on racetracks counterclockwise, the steering wheels in our cars are on the left side of the car, we run on our tracks counter-clockwise. So are we just accustomed to it?

barrel racing, barrel racer

To be the best for our horses, we have to balance them. We should do the same thing to each side. They should feel the same way on each side. I always try to balance my ride by doing just as much left, as right, unless my horse needs help on a particular side. But having a warm up pen where people are always going one direction means that if you need to go the other way, you’re limited to whatever is left of the “middle” as to space so, that may limit what you can and can’t do while you’re in that tiny piece of real-estate.  Which is even more reason to work on getting your horse balanced at home, because when you go to an event, you may be stuck in the abyss of the tiny, right-handed circle.

When warming up, I don’t, as a rule, do a lot of loping on my horses. I tend to long trot them out both ways, if possible, and then I do a lot of walking, flexing, bending — asking the hips to go away, the shoulders to come through, keeping them soft and balanced through some serpentines. This way their mind is with me. Horses, by their very nature, are designed to go from zero to flat out run in a matter of seconds. We are really not asking them to do much  more when running barrels, so if they’re limber, and their minds are with us, I figure I’m in a good place.  That said, again I’ll ask, Why?


Why left?

Why not right?

Why not work both sides equally?

After all, as barrel racers we want our horses to turn just as good one way as the other, correct? Or at least that’s my goal!

It’s just a little food for thought as we start into our down time called winter.  I’ve really contemplated asking for a warm-up pen announcer — someone who says, “Simon says, it’s time to go right. Simon says it’s time to go left. Simon says stop visiting, and help your durn horses”.  I jest, I jest, but it is something to keep in mind next time you go to an event where real estate is precious.   How do you warm up your horses?

Happy Trails!



Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Rodeo

About Jenn Zeller

Jenn Zeller is the creative mind and boss lady behind The South Dakota Cowgirl. She is an aspiring horsewoman, photographer, brilliant social media strategist and lover of all things western. After a brief career in the investment world to support her horse habit (and satisfy her...

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