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anybody ever "convert" a barrel racer to a dressage horse?

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  • anybody ever "convert" a barrel racer to a dressage horse?

    An accquaintance needs to sell a 6 year old 16+ hand QH gelding that she has been running barrels on for about a year, this guy is pretty, has the build of a stocky TB and is not downhill at all, actually more uphill. My question is how hard would this be to "undo" in his brain. He is a little hot, but it could be from just having the hell run out of him. He moves like a WB out in the pasture but I have not seen anyone on him, she is bringing him over Saturday. Any ideas?

  • #2
    Well, he will have plenty of forward. I am working with a mare that was trained western pleasure and had to get her moving forward. If you have time and patience I don't see why not.


    Patience and Consistency are Your Friends


    • #3
      my goodness sure! it'll probably be fun for him too! like was said, you've got forward, you can do a lot with forward. Have fun!
      Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


      • #4
        depends on how he was trained to run on how hard it would be to convert. I have rode many barrel racers. My racer would have converted pretty easily but I have rode a few that would have been He double l to convert If the horse has been trained to bend around the barrels will make it easier. If he knows leg is not always go it will be easier. If he is riding in a 3 ring sliding gage or some other hard bit it maybe hard to have him accept a simple snaffle and behave with it. If he is a head slinger when asked to rate for a barrel it will be harder. With that said anything is possible and it can be done
        Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


        • #5
          you have to undo his muscles, not his brain. Rebuild his top line.

          It works with flat racing, including the part about hard mouths, so it should work with the barrel racers. Just don't enter any arenas where the dressage letters are on the sides of tallish round containers.


          • #6
            i used to lease a black and white paint mare that was used for barrel racing and pole bending. she was great at dressage! he lead changes were awesome!
            be kind to your horses mouth!


            • Original Poster

              she says she is riding him ......

              in a simple loose ring snaffle. I can't wait to try him, she is a college student that needs the funds but I don't want to have to start riding barrels just to enjoy him!! HaHa! I did that when I was a youngster but at 47 I like the "sophistication" of dressage! Who am I kiddin', I'd be scared to go that fast anymore!!!!


              • #8
                My Dressage horse was also a barrel racer. The key is to get him used to not running in the areana. This is going to be a lot easier for you because he wont be running barrels anymore. My horse ran barrels and did dressage (along with a million other things! haha) If she ran him in a snaffle then he should be pretty good. I couldnt even run my horse in a plain snaffle! haha Just work him as if he is a baby in training. He needs his back built up more then likely so work on long and low. He will be a ton of fun to ride! Good luck!
                ~*It's not about the ribbons, but about the ride behind it"
                R.I.P. Teddy O'Connor


                • #9
                  Until you try him, you won't know. Some of them have had their brains fried, others remain sensible.

                  So go try him!!!
                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                  • #10
                    I leased an ex-barrel horse for awhile, and he turned out great at dressage! Great big QH (that didn't look like a QH at all) who was super athletic and just loved to work. No matter what it was, he wanted to work! The only problem we had was going through the gate - he thought it was always supposed to be followed by a sprint for the barrels (even in a dressage arena...)
                    Reasons I'm crazy, #37: I went out shopping for a pony and came home with a 17hh OTTB
                    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                    • Original Poster

                      I know about that gate stuff

                      My first stallion is an ex racing QH and I learned pretty quickly not to be in front of him leading him through a gate! At 31 he still scoots past a gate, I guess that one is hard to "unlearn".


                      • #12
                        It depends...I would say it tend to take 6 months of conditioning to build muscle and then another 6 months to get connection going. I've seen several horses start new careers including QHs. I can't comment on the brain as I would have to see the horse.

                        BUT... to make a career change to dressage....

                        I always tell people start with trail rides (in dressage bit if possible) to build the back and stifle strength from hillwork (*slowly*) and get the horse to trust you and walk on a long rein (mellow out). Then gradually start days of longing and only 5 mins of siderein work. Then start arena work on a long rein getting the horse to go on his own and learn about seat aids. After that its refining contact and building strength as they learn what you want. If someone asked me I wouldn't sell a horse as a dressage horse unless it can do solid 1st level and take a half halt. There is NOTHING wrong with a good trail horse, they can bring in some good money. I for one look for solid trail skills first THEN arena skills.

                        If you have the horse on a program for a few months and he isn't settling add Quiessence to his feed, I have seem AMAZING results.

                        I love a good QH, they really adapt to the rider and learn fast. Good luck


                        • #13
                          Thats good that he goes in a snaffle already. So hopefully his mouth isn't to hard. If he goes in a snaffle then he is probably pretty easy to rate and understands a half halt already. You just have to work with helping him to understand to half halt on the bit and that an arena is not a get up and go place all the time. My old retired guy would do anything in the ring and trail. But he did loveeee to run. So if I drilled him to much on the flat then I usually let him have a good little run at the end of the work out. That all depends on the horse though. I rode one that if you asked him to run that was that and that was all he wanted to do then. I rode one you couldn't take on the trail or he was GONE!!! He took off one day with my hubby on the trail (he was not our horse) and made it a mile to the river and back in 15 min. My barrel horse and I just waited happily until they got back His hands were bleeding because he was trying so hard to stop the horse but poor horsie had a fried brain and there was no stopping him Needless to say it was scary Really depends on the horse. Go ride him, if you can walk/trot him around the ring and he stays calm and then as for a nice calm canter then he is probably not fried. If he can't walk/trot without jigging or canter calmly then its probably going to be pretty hard. A real big test is if you can set up the barrels and if he will walk them then trot them and then canter them nicely and easily without balls to the walls and on a semi loose rein then you have a nice guy that should be pretty easy to convert. Let us know how it goes.
                          Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                          • #14
                            I used to train barrel horses, and while I didn't train the pattern that often, I ALWAYS walked and trotted it before I ran. I wanted a horse that knew how to slow down. I mostly trail rode my barrel horses, and worked on circles/leg yields/other schooling maneuvers. The idea was that once they knew the pattern, you'd fry them by working it too often. Once or twice a week was all - the rest was more dressage type schooling. Hopefully this horse has been worked that way. The one thing that I would have had trouble with was getting them up on the bit - our horses didn't have the English idea of contact; they would back off from it. I always worked them in a simple snaffle, too, by the way - they ran in a different bit, but all the work was done in a snaffle so that I could get the bend I wanted, but we never held the contact the way I do in dressage - that's been the hardest thing for me to get used to...


                            • #15
                              A friend 'converted' a quarter horse she was leasing from a gaming horse to a hunter/pleasure horse.

                              Her biggest problem was shows. Get that mare in the ring by herself and she thought she was gaming again. HUNTER, not JUMPER...it was amusing to watch her fly around those jumps! This mare rode on the buckle at home- but home was not show...

                              This mare gamed for about 10 years before that, though - but I would think that would be a bigger challenge than bending/flexing/cooperating at home.


                              • #16
                                The best horse I ever owned was similar to yours! We did great at the lower levels!


                                • #17
                                  Yes, that was one of the things that I think would be difficult. We'd school at the arena a couple of times a week, but they would certainly be more "up" at a real show! I also team penned on these horses though (we had a string of roping steers, and we pretty much did everything). That involved the same arena we ran barrels in, and having to rate/work cows at either a fast or slow pace, so I think that one of my horses probably COULD have done ok, although I never really tried it.

                                  Now I wish that I had my old Go Dick Go mare back to do dressage with, just to see how she'd do. She wasn't particularly hot (she's now carting kids around the barrels at 19) but she did move really nicely. She was appendix, and looked more TB than QH, and had a trot to die for.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    That is what I am worried about thatmoody.....

                                    him accepting contact. I know some barrel horses might confuse "contact" with the "extreme contact" that is done in an effort to hold them back until you turn them loose at 100 miles an hour pointed at that first barrel! We will just have to see, on a good note, he is just a baby at 6 and has only been a "barrel horse" for a year or so and this young lady seems to have a good horseman's sense, so hopefully there will be no snakes in his head. She has described him as a little bit hot and that he hates spurs, so I doubt he will be a pussycat either. I'll let you guys know what the first encounter is like after this weekend. Thanks!


                                    • #19
                                      My dressage mare is an ex rodeo queen=] We tried the rodeo thing for years (her previous owner tried it with her to) and she HATED it. Bucked didn't wanna go, etc etc. We tried dressage and more specifically eventing and she loves it. For the first time in 3 years she unpinned her ears=] It wasn't easy to get her to come into a frame, or move forward correctly but once she figured it out, she really came into her own. We found our niche=]

                                      So in answer to your question, yes it can be done=D
                                      Words to live by:
                                      There's always another box on your test
                                      Over or through
                                      Throw your heart over the fence and go after it


                                      • #20
                                        Just don't enter any arenas where the dressage letters are on the sides of tallish round containers.