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How to Properly Warm Up a Horse for Barrel Racing

Greatmats Horse Training Series Part 3: Trainer Kelly Murphy-Alley


By Kelly Murphy-Alley

To properly warm up you barrel horse at a show or rodeo, you'll want to keep in mind that there is not always a great place to warm up. So you need to have a plan and routine down to warm up anywhere, including on grass or dirt or in a nice arena. Make sure you and your horse have have a routine that will stretch his/her muscles and allow him/her to warm up properly before running.

Start by walking off in a circle. It's important to work both the right and left sides of your horse since you'll be making both right and left turns. Walk first, then long trot, then lope your circles - 3-4 circles each on walk and trot and then 10 circles on the lope.

When loping, make sure your horse is collected and it is a slow lope. Keep your horse's nose turned to the inside slightly with his/her shoulder picked up. This will help set the horse up for his/her turns and get all of the muscles stretched out. After a good stop, stay square, sit your horse and let him/her relax for a minute and then turn and go the other direction following the same procedure.

Whenever you stop, back up several steps. Backing up will help stretch their hips, stifles and glute muscles.

A proper warmup will help prevent muscle pulls and get your horse comfortable and ready to go. It's just like your warming up before a workout, run or game.
For more on this topic please review our Horse Stall Mats product page.