Up your training game with these 6 quick futurity horse tips from several successful barrel futurity trainers.
“If you notice in any of my runs, I very seldom kick. I don’t have to, because horses naturally want to run with me. I don’t know if it’s necessarily that or if it’s because of some things that I teach when I first start them—when I ask them to go faster, and they go ahead and speed up, I release that pressure.” —Molli Montgomery
“Everything comes back to the beginning of when they’re started on the pattern, just being as patient and as slow as you can possibly be. I go so slow. It’s like watching paint dry. I start them at a walk or a trot—I feel that’s how they learn to place their feet and do it consistently. They have time to think when you’re patient and everything is clear to them, and it’s not so much of a question later on when you add speed. Once they start feeling like they’re doing things around a barrel at a lope how I want, I am quick to ask them to go on. I don’t just lope through forever; it’s more the walk-trot and just-starting-out-lope phase that I take forever. After that, I do want them to know how to leave a barrel and leave it strong and go somewhere. But at the very beginning, that’s when I take the most time. That’s what benefits these horses in the end.” —Kassie Mowry
“I have really soft hands, and sometimes to a fault. If I ride in a bridle that doesn’t kind of get them, horses will start pulling on me. [To soften them and back off the bridle], I just pull until they give, pull until they give, and then make sure I release as soon as they give just a little bit. I’m not a sharp-jerk person.” —Ashley Schafer
“I’ve only had a handful of horses that were ready by the juvenile in November or December. It’s hard for me to get them ready by December. I don’t put a lot of pressure on them. I had a couple colts really ready by the juvenile, but I wasn’t ready as a trainer. I had nerves. I had to grow as a trainer. I’m a late bloomer too, so I think that’s why I get along with a variety of different colts, because I can relate to them—I’m not a standout trainer, it took me a long time. I had to work like a dog at it. I had to work on my mind; it wasn’t natural. With the juvenile or the slot race, I try to keep it fun for them, and I don’t take anything personally. If a horse has a meltdown or doesn’t handle it, that’s OK, we’ll work on that later. I try to make it a good experience with all of them. If they’re not ready to go on, I try to just make it a success and build their confidence. I’m looking to finish out a horse—it’s not just about now. I’ve had a lot of really nice horses that didn’t start out at the juvenile like a superstar, but I knew what I was sitting on.” —Ryann Pedone
“The biggest thing I tell people [about an early futurity horse] is that it’s like an advanced student in school. You have your kids that can probably do fifth-grade math at a first-grade level, for example, those young kids who are very advanced in academics. To me, that’s the way I look at a futurity horse. The ones that really enjoy working hard and training and take to what you’re asking them to do are the ones I look to go early with. Some of them are just a little slower to progress, and sometimes they come on later in the year. The ones that I shoot for the slot races are usually more advanced and more mature.” —Cody Bauserman
“I feel like with most horses, I tend to get more accomplished once they’re already running if I just work on my fundamentals off the pattern— keeping them listening to me, being soft when I ask them to do something, whether it be with my legs or my hands, keeping them sharp, soft in the bit, moving all their body parts, footwork and reminding them of their spots at the barrels.” —Danyelle Campbell