Your Horse to Rate
By Caterina Tadlock
Teaching your horse it rate is one of the most important part
of teaching your horse to barrel race. The word “rate”
is barrel racing terminology for the essential slow down and body
collection that must occur before the horse makes his turn. Horses
that don’t learn to rate themselves make wide sloppy turns
which cost them precious seconds.
that "Whoa" means stop & back up
The first step in teaching a horse to rate is teaching him to
respond to the voice command “whoa.” When you say
whoa you want your horse to really plant his hindquarters in the
ground and stop. I have found that the most effective way to teach
a horse to do this is to say whoa, make the horse stop
and then back him up a few steps. This method conditions
his mind to associate stopping with backing up. This association
causes the horse to develop a deeper stop where he plants his
hindquarters rather than his front end. In order for a horse to
properly rate himself he must be stopping on his hindquarters.
Horses to who stop on their front ends are off balance in their
turns and cannot make the quick snappy turns required in barrel
A barrel horse must rate before each barrel.
it to the Pattern at a Trot
Once you have taught
your horse to respond to the voice command of “whoa”
and to stop on his hindquarters it is time to apply this to the
barrel pattern. I like to begin this stage of training at the
trot. Trot the horse up to the first barrel, say “whoa”
and back up him up. Then ask him to walk around the barrel.
After he has made the turn ask him to trot to the second barrel,
again, say “whoa” stop him and back him. When the
horse has completed his turn around the second barrel, have him
trot to the third, say “whoa” stop him, back him up
and have him walk around it.
Body positions of both the horse and rider are very important
at this stage. When the horse stops make sure that his hindquarters
are parallel to the barrel. He should not be swinging them outward
or inward. If your horse has a tendency to swing his hindquarters
outward make sure you always correct this by moving them over
with leg pressure. A horse that tends to swing his hind quarters
outward will always be off balance and can never learn to rate
properly. The rider’s position is equally important. It
is ver impoyrtant that you are balance in the saddle and that
you do not learn to the inside. Leaning to the inside will cause
the horse to be thrown off balance and swing his rear outward
losing momentum and precious seconds.
at a Lope
When you feel that your horse has mastered rating at the trot,
this process can be applied at the lope as well. You will know
that your horse is rating himself at the trot when he slows down
to the walk when you say “whoa”, without you having
to pull on the reins. To repeat the process at the canter, canter
up to the first barrel say “whoa” stop and then trot
around the barrel. Lope to the second, say “whoa”,
stop, back up and trot around the barrel. Repeat the same process
for the third barrel. As mentioned above, continue to pay attention
to your body position and the body position of your horse.
What you are teaching the horse here is to rate himself
when he hears the voice command “whoa”. When
your training is complete and you are ready to compete, all you
will have to do is say “whoa” when you are ready for
the turn and your horse will rate himself and make the turn. These
exercise also work well as a tune up for seasoned horses that
are going by barrels.