Horse lovers and skilled riders of all kinds enjoy barrel racing. Kristi Schiller of Schiller Ranch is the founder of Diamonds & Dirt. It is one of the largest barrel races in the world. Since there’s almost a million dollars in cash and prizes offered each April, it’s no wonder that they draw a crowd. You’d probably love to get ready to barrel race at Diamonds & Dirt!
Diamonds & Dirt is quite a title for a barrel race. Historically, barrel racing was a woman’s sport, so we suspect Moti Ferder would support the old adage, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” since he’s the president and design director of Lugano diamonds. It’s one of the finest jewelers in the world. Perhaps some of his designs could be incorporated into winner’s saddles making the race for the win all the more exciting at Diamonds & Dirt. That would give new racers something to work toward for sure.
Tips for Barrel Racing Beginners
Those who participate at Diamonds & Dirt are professional barrel racers who have invested tons of time working their horses and themselves. But, that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible dream for beginners. Everyone has to start somewhere. Therefore, here are some tips for barrel racing beginners:
- Pick a horse. Lineage, when it comes to horses, can give you an idea about agility and speed. Inspect your horse to ensure that its legs are straight. Also check flexibility and its hooves. Don’t forget that temperament is almost as important as physical health. Just as some added info for you, these horses are best for short bursts of high speeds: paints, pintos, and quarter horses.
- Exercise the horse. Take it on long trots to build up lung capacity. You should condition your horse at least three days a week taking him/her on six-eight mile fast paced rides. You want to build its racer stamina. Also, practice riding in circles and figure eights to help the horse’s precision during the race.
- Buy tack. Sports boots are great for injury protection and ear plugs can help keep the horse focused. Obviously, you will need a bridle and bit so that you can guide the horse. Get a barrel racing saddle which has a deep seat and short skirt. You might want a saddle blanket, but remember that getting the proper saddle is key to providing you with stability while riding. Learn more about saddles.
- Remain anchored in your saddle. When riders flop around in the saddle they hamper the horse’s balance and pull on its bit. Rider’s bodies need to lean forward, slightly, in a race and their heels must be pushing down in the stirrup around turns. Practice body alignment when in the saddle as well.
- Slow your speed at the barrels. Look at the area around the barrel, not the barrel itself. They call this a pocket. Say “whoa” and apply weight to the heels in the stirrups to slow down. Then speed up after every turn. You’ll use your legs to indicate the direction of the turn. Get more specifics about this here.
- Cross the finish line. Hold your hands low with your body leaning slightly forward to gain the necessary speed between barrels when you are on your way to the finish line. When it’s over, make sure to give your horse water and check for injuries.
If you think you are going to love barrel racing but would like more information about how to get involved in it, read this.