We’ve all been there—the dreaded barrel bug. No matter what the root cause is, once you start hitting barrels, it becomes increasingly mental and seems like a slump you can’t get away from. Trainer and National Finals Rodeo Qualifier Jordon Briggs shares her tips to help you correct the fundamental issues, which will give you the confidence to go down the alley and come out with no 5-second penalties.

jordon briggs pointing toward the barrel
Look up between your horse’s ears at the path you want him to travel.

1. Looking at the barrel.

Jordon’s tip: “You really need to keep your posture up and look ahead between your horse’s ears. Look UP and not at the barrel. Get your positioning right and look at the right spots. Sometimes I tell people to look at the fence to take the anticipation away from the barrel.”

2. You’re leaning too far forward.

jordon briggs demonstrating incorrect leaning on horse
Jordon demonstrates incorrect body position when running toward the barrel.

Jordon’s tip: “Don’t lean so far forward over your horse. Sit up and drive them forward [with your seat and legs]. These two things are going to help your horse tremendously with how your body is positioned. When you’re looking down, they feel that and will anticipate the barrel as much as your body is.”

3. You’re finishing the turn too soon.

Jordon’s tip: “If you’re hitting barrels coming out, you aren’t making your horse reach far enough forward in the middle of the turn—you’re trying to go from Point A to Point C. You need to push the horse forward through the turn and get some more forward motion into the middle of the turn so you don’t hit it coming out.”

jordon briggs walking around a barrel
If you’re hitting barrels on the backside, push your horse all the way through the turn so his hip has enough space to come around.

4. The straight angle to the second barrel messes with your approach.

Jordon’s tip: “The second barrel is people’s worst barrel for hitting. It’s a really straight angle and people anticipate it. I would pick a banner on the fence and concentrate on looking at that banner to make me sit up and look ahead so I drive my horse ahead instead of anticipating how far away I am from the barrel.”

5. You’re starting the turn too soon.

Jordon’s tip: “Don’t start your turn until your leg is past the barrel. (Yes, it’s that simple!) You can help your body position more than tuning on your horse, more than anything, for your body not to anticipate rather than trying to ‘fix’ your horse.”

Watch Jordon demonstrate these easy fixes in this video. Find the latest videos here and at TrainingBarrelHorses.com.


Blanche Schaefer is an avid barrel racer and managing editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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