Trainer PJ Burger offers insight on how to position your body and your horse’s body around the turn.

Coming into the Barrel

“I like to be about an arm’s length from the barrel coming in. Start out wide and come in tight.”

“I want the barrel right behind the calf of my leg. The faster I go, there’s no way they can hit that barrel. If you learn to push the horse up around it, there is no way they can hit the barrel. The people who sit too soon and pick up and ask the horse to turn when their leg is on top of the barrel, then they’re going to go right over the top of it and there’s nothing you can do. Set it in your mind ahead of time that you’re going to ride up and around the barrel and push his butt around instead of his head. If you just bend the head and the head’s around the barrel, but the leg and body is not around it, you’ll go over the top of it.”

PJ Burger demonstrating body position going around the barrel
Sit down on your back pockets around the turn, pushing your weight into the back of your seat and your stirrups.
Around the Turn

“Sit down in the saddle for the turn—when I sit down, I push on my horn. I push my pockets into the back of my seat and put some weight into my stirrups. That’s your brake pedal. That’s a natural way to show your horse to slow down and get ready for the turn before you pick up on the reins.”

Leaving the Barrel
PJ Burger demonstrating body position leaving the barrel
PJ pulls up on her horn and releases her horse’s face to drive him in a straight line toward the next barrel.

“When you leave the turn, I like to have my hand on the horn and pull up on the reins. That feel of pulling on the horn is your gas pedal to go in a straight line.”

Watch PJ demonstrate in this video

About PJ Burger


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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