Patterns for the Weekend

This week: a barrel racing exercise that could aid horses in any discipline.


One of my horses hates to bend to the right. It’s not that he can’t bend to the right — trust me, we’ve run all the pertinent veterinary tests — it’s just that he prefers going to the left. He agrees with Joan Rivers…


Replace diamonds with carrots and you get the idea. So I spend a good deal of my time scouring Pinterest for patterns to improve his flexibility and willingness to bend. Here are two of my favorites.

1. The K.I.S.S. Bend

This is such a simple exercise on paper, but achingly hard to perfect in the saddle. The shallow loop, performed at the walk and trot, is generally a part of my warm-up every ride.

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2. The Drunken Horse

Many riders might overlook this pattern because it is billed as a “barrel racing exercise,” but it truly helps my horses loosen up. Spiderman, the horse that underwent Kissing Spine surgery, especially enjoys the pattern. It relaxes his whole body without making him think too hard, which he is prone to do. Afterwards, he licks his lips and has a much better ride over jumps.

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The exercise is also very similar to one Beezie Madden performed at the 2015 George Morris Horsemastership Clinic. She did her turns freestyle, but I’ve found I stay more focused if there are actually barrels or cones set up in the arena.

Watch Beezie’s entire ride on the USEF Network.

For more patterns and lots of other cool stuff, check out Horsenista’s Pinterest.

Visit Horsenista’s profile on Pinterest.

What are you doing this weekend? Give us a shout in the comments or the HN forum!

Go Riding.

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