Barrel Racing Quick Tips

Three tips for better barrel runs.

Barrel Training


Here are more tips to improve your runs, from champion barrel racer Lindsay Sears.

  • For the horse that always gets off to a slow start from the alley, breeze him a short distance. Work in a pasture, on a track or along the side of an arena—whichever has the safest footing. Remember, a breeze is not a flat-out run. It’s a little faster than the usual speed you use in a barrel run.”It usually only takes a couple of times for your horse to know what you want from him,” says Sears. “The biggest thing when you breeze your horse is to only go a short distance and then ask him to slow down. Make sure you have complete control at all times.”
  • The warm-up at the barrel race should be geared toward your horse’s individual needs. Sears believes you can over-ride your horse before a competition, so really listen to him and learn over time what he specifically needs in order to focus for a strong, fast run.
  • If you’re worried about the pattern, focus on your horse. Sears recommends you work the full cloverleaf pattern as much or as little as you need to—it depends on the horse.
    “Some horses don’t need much work on the pattern and others need more,” she says. “If the horse requires a lot of work, I always do it at a slow speed.”

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This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Horse Illustrate magazine. Click here to subscribe!


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Allison Griest is a freelance writer based in Texas, and a former assistant editor of Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. She has a passion for horses, dogs, hiking, and...


  1. i think one of the most important things to do first is make sure your horse or pony is really flexible and will bend and turn nice. trotting and trail riding and circles, and bending all help with this. you must be fit along with your horse, too. one good thing to improve your balance,is riding bareback!


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