Try Jordon Briggs’ Figure Eight barrel racing drill to help your horse finish the turns faster and with a snap.

Whether it’s a young horse or older horse, bowing off the turns is a common problem most barrel racers will experience at some point.

National Finals Rodeo qualifier and multiple futurity champion Jordon Briggs uses the Figure Eight drill to help the horse bring his shoulders across the backside of the turn and finish strong in a straight line to the next barrel.

“I notice that we get our horses prepared for the turn, and then about halfway around the turn they’re so excited to run to the next barrel that instead of finishing the turn and pushing off straight, they push off only halfway around, so we bow off,” Jordon said. “This is a drill I do to get my horses to snap on the backside and be in the proper position for the next turn, because we all know that if you mess up on the backside, you’re fighting for the next one.”

The Figure Eight

At a trot, approach your barrel normally and begin the turn.

Jordon Briggs approaching first barrel

When you get to the backside of the turn and the horse’s hip has cleared the barrel to leave, use your outside rein and leg to counter arc your horse and then bring it into a circle the opposite direction. For example, if you’ve just turned the first barrel, you’ll use your left rein and left leg to push the horse into a counter arc and then a left-handed circle.

Jordon Briggs finishing turn
Begin your counter arc here, using your left rein and left leg to push the horse over.
Jordon Briggs leaving turn
Jordon is using the counter arc to direct her horse to the right. As the horse’s shoulder clears the barrel, she’ll redirect the horse onto a lefthanded circle.
Jordon Briggs circling
Complete a fluid circle to the left.
As you finish the lefthanded circle, use your right rein and leg to ask the horse to counter arc briefly to bring his shoulders back in line with the approach to your barrel, and turn the barrel to the right again. Repeat the exercise several times both directions.

Jordon says this exercise breaks the horse loose throughout the body—he has to move his shoulders in the counter arc, and he has to move his hips to get back on the circle and his hind end to propel around each circle.

“This also helps breaks up his body, so he’s not going to get tense and stiffen up in any part of his body,” Jordon said.

Watch Jordon demonstrate and explain in this video.


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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