We all have been there, things did not go to plan that last run and we’re kind of upset! We want to correct our horse right then and there so they never want to blow that barrel or slice into that turn again.

What happens, is human error and a horses inability to connect to our frustrations and our frantic cues as an attempt to undo the past. We are scolding them for running into an arena like they were asked to. They might have not been on the same page as you but they really try hard to do what we tell them or what we think we’re telling them.

As big as these domesticated animals are, horses are submissive to almost a fault. As imperfect riders, what they let us get away with, should make them admirable to all of us. The horses’ have an ability to try and try again for us, allowing us to learn the lessons of horseback riding by being the subject of our mistakes.

They don’t understand hand jerking after their run as a way to know they should have turned the first barrel better. They don’t know lifting your inside rein well across their neck means you want them to move over. It’s funny, they will do the exact opposite from your “goal” of lifting them off a turn. In your head it makes sense, but horses will respond to us the only way they know. Which in turn makes it our job to understand them and apply the proper cues accordingly.

In barrel racing, it’s about the communication between you and an animal. The animal is submissive and you are the controller. This should be treated as a blessing and a responsibility to be in your position of power over something so big and strong. A living animal with its own mind and personality that is trying to do what you’re communicating at the best of your ability! Appreciate that for a moment.

Yes, sometimes our horse’s aren’t where we think they are, and because of that, we will have to regroup and try again next time. No amount of sea-sawing their mouth will change that downed barrel just as no amount of confusing harsh tuning will develop a willing, happy horse. It’s hard to not let our own expectations flood over into the warm-up pen after we just ran. That’s not where you’ll accomplish anything worthwhile other than maybe letting off some steam.

We all have been there and maybe were too hard on our horse due to letdown attempts to winning the barrel race. In those moments, take a step back to evaluate yourself and how you performed in the arena. Were you the rider your horse needed? Maybe you can’t answer that for yourself, but that’s where it’s your duty to find out and learn to become a better rider for your horse. We have to remember the power is in our hands and not our horses.