Q: What are some exercises I can do to help build my horse’s speed for a faster time in barrel racing?
Condition your horse in long, straight lines whenever possible, as circles are physically hard on a horse. Here is my conditioning program broken down into each step:
- Trot one mile
- Lope one mile on one lead
- Lope one more mile on the opposite lead
- The fourth mile: Long trot the first half mile then slow trot the last half mile.
NOTE: Do not walk in between paces.
This totals four miles, which I feel is the optimum distance for building a well-conditioned equine athlete in barrel racing or any event. I want to keep the heart rate up and work it, then bring the heart rate slowly back down. Every third day, I sprint my horse after the third mile in a straight line for about 400 yards.
You will be impressed how your horse’s muscle tone will change with this type of conditioning program. Before long, you will find that your horse feels like running and will be quicker around the turns and faster in the straightaways.