Having the right equipment in sports is important not only
for winning, but to remain safe. You wouldn't play football
without a helmet and proper padding or box without gloves
and mouth guards. Barrel racing is no different. Having the
proper equipment keeps you and your horse safe and performing
to the best of your abilities.
Your barrel saddle is the most important piece of equipment.
Without a proper fitting saddle, you and your horse can become
sore. Make sure you use a saddle that fits your horse’s
back and your seat correctly.
The next piece of equipment that can make or break a barrel
run is the bit. Having the correct bit means your horse responds
to your slightest move of the reins, the bit fits good and
doesn't pinch his mouth and allows him to make a great run.
Most barrel racers keep an assortment of different types of
bits in their barn. One bit is not going to be the best for
every horse and some horses need different bits for different
situations. Some barrel racers use one bit for training, one
for exercising, one for competition and another for pleasure
riding. This all depends on the horse and what kind of bit
he responds to. Most barrel racers will go through many bits
before finding the perfect bit for their horse.
Boots are a must-have accessory when running barrels. Your
horse's legs take a lot of stress running and turning hard.
The right kind of boots can absorb some of that stress, reducing
the wear on his legs. Front boots can also keep your horse
from cutting himself with his rear legs when turning. Many
barrel horses receive injuries to tendons and ligaments on
their front legs from clipping themselves with the back hooves.
Some do this while running, but most do it in the turns around
the barrels. Rear boots protect the fetlocks from hitting
the ground while setting and turning the barrel. Bell boots
are not necessary for every horse, but are a good precaution.
They protect the bulb of the front hooves from being stepped
on or torn by the rear hooves.
Barrel racing reins are offered by many manufacturers and
are available in many colors, but are all basically the same.
They are short, round reins. Most have knots along each side
for you to reach down and grab. These are the most popular
barrel racing reins. Leather round reins can be used, but
are more slippery than the knotted reins. Split reins aren't
used in barrel racing because one could get loose during a
run and become very dangerous to a running horse.
Tie downs are used in barrel racing although some say it
hinders the horse's performance by not allowing him to use
his natural balance. Others say their horses turn better with
a loose tie down because they can use it to balance. This
is strictly up to you and your horse. Some horses cannot be
ridden without a tie down because they throw their heads around
and don't watch where they are going. Try running the pattern
with and without a tie down to see how it affects your horse.
Whips are another piece of equipment used by many barrel
racers. From bats and crops to an over and under, almost every
barrel racer has used a whip at some point. An over and under,
a rope that is attached to the saddle horn, is the most popular
type of whip for barrel racers. It can be laid over the thigh
when making a run, always within reach between barrels and
on the run home. The best way to determine if your horse reacts
positively to a whip is to video you making a run with and
without using the whip. You may not notice while riding, but
from a video you can see many horses actually slow down when
they are whipped.
Equipment for barrel racers is available in many different
styles, colors and material. Make your choice based on what
works for you and your horse before buying the latest fad.
Looking for more great barrel racing articles? Just wheel
on over to our equine network and you will enjoy our great
article and forum resources.
About the Author
Ron Petracek was raised in Souther Idaho,with a black morgan
as his adventure companion. His Love for horses has expanded
into the largest equine classified network on the internet
to date. Please visit 12
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