Speed Events Western Riding Young Rider

Two Barrel Racing Exercises

Young Rider Magazine LogoIf you have a finished horse that doesn’t need a lot of work on the barrel pattern, the last thing you want to do is drill the cloverleaf over and over while you work to perfect your seat and turn. Here are some other barrel racing exercises that can help you and your horse, without your horse becoming bored with the cloverleaf pattern. Barrel racing trainer Kelly Murphy-Alley recommends thinking outside the cloverleaf with these two exercises.

Young rider barrel racing

Barrel Racing Exercise #1:

4-Barrel Exercise

Set up four barrels in the shape of a square. You can run either direction, but we’ll start by going to the left barrel first, turning that to your left and going to the top right barrel, turning right.

Once you complete that turn, go straight across to the top left barrel and turn to the right. Jog down to the bottom right barrel and make a left turn and cross your start line.

Essentially, you will turn left, right, right, left. Or, if you start on the right side, it’ll be right, left, left, right.

Start slowly and then, as you get comfortable, you can increase your speed.

Four-Barrel Exercise
Four-Barrel Exercise

Barrel Racing Exercise #2:

6-Barrel Exercise

Set up six barrels in a “V” shape, with the wider end being the start.

Starting on the right side, turn the three barrels on your right to the right, then go across and turn the left side barrels to your left (right, right, right, left, left, left).

If you start on the left side, you will turn left three times, and then right three times.

Work this pattern at a walk, trot or canter, but remember to start slow and only speed up to where you can still have control and keep the rounded shape.

Six-Barrel Exercise
Six-Barrel Exercise

About the Expert:

Kelly Murphy-Alley is a professional barrel racer and trainer based in Wilmore, Ky. She owns Striking KMA Performance Horses.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Megan Arszman

Megan Arszman is a freelance writer based in Indiana, where she’s learning to balance motherhood with horses, dogs and writing.


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