Axis Point Biomechanics

Hello and welcome back to Rafter 3 Horse Development. This is Jamie with you again today. If you missed last week’s article, we spoke about Axis points in barrel racing and you can find that article HERE.

Today we are going to discuss the biomechanics of axis points in barrel racing. Understanding and comprehension of axis points can be taken multiple steps further if you understand what is happening within your horses body prior to, during, and after a turn. This will help you prepare your horse 100x better than if you had a limited idea of what was transpiring within your horse. Don’t play the guessing game with your horse training, know the facts and add power to your barrel horse training program.

How does the study of biomechanics play a role in axis points?

The study of equine biomechanics is defined as the “Biomechanics is the study of the forces that affect movement of the body. It examines how muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments operate together for a horse to walk, passage or perform lateral movements.” according to

So, why does this help your barrel racing?

If you understand how your horses body operates, your turns and exits are going to be much more powerful. Understanding how your horses body works gives you the advantage as the rider to then ride the horse to their full potential and correctly train and condition the horse.

How does understanding biomechanics optimize axis points?

If you think about it, turns are extreme maneuvers and as a barrel racer, you are performing these turns at extreme speeds. Your horse is going through an entire process of preparation for the turn (Rate) shifting their weight and adding collection and impulsion while simultaneously increasing, decreasing, and then increasing speed, then once that process is complete there is the turn itself which requires precise placement of the feet and hip in order to correctly execute your turn.

These axis points are the points in which you practically ask your horse to step up and around and pick their bodies up. Almost as if you were “squaring your corner” or asking your horse to collectedly maneuver a corner to where their shoulders stay in the proper positioning without dropping and simultaneously maintaining both bend and straightness through the turn.

Biomechanics is going to be essential for getting technical with your axis points and addressing what is happening with your horses body during the turn and at each axis point you can break your turn apart and dissect what they are doing at each point. Understanding biomechanics for axis points is going to give you the ability to then apply changes to what you notice your horse (or you) doing during the entry, turn, or exit.

Basics of biomechanics for axis points and turning

Next we are going to briefly talk about the 5 axis points and what can happen during each one. Some of the more common problems and some ways to begin problem solving.

barrel racing course
Your standard barrel course and run


Rate and axis points in barrel racing
Rate and axis points in barrel racing

Here is an example of a typical pattern and the typical pattern with axis points applied.

Entering your first barrel, your first axis point is directly on top of the barrel and slightly forward, most trainers report that their clients have the most issue on the first barrel around point 3,4, or 5.

Charmayne James wrote in an article for

“When approaching the first barrel you visualize an arc to your six steps— that is your entry position to the first of the five axis points around the first barrel. For the first barrel I tell people it’s crucial to focus on points one and three, and then you might have to adjust a little bit depending on the horse. It’s all about knowing your horse. If your horse has a tendency to come back through the turn really hard, you might need to adjust the spot you’re looking and riding to in order to open up that turn a little bit. Know where that spot is—is it a little to the inside of the turn or a little to the outside? This depends on your horse’s style and what works best for that individual.”

There are different ideas to how many axis points are on the second barrel. Some trainers choose to use 5 points and some choose to use 6 or 7 points. The amount of axis points you personally utilize is a personal choice, but using 6 or 7 can have advantages for some riders and horses, especially exiting that secondary barrel.

Final thoughts on axis point biomechanics

Whenever you practice your axis points and focus on axis point biomechanics you are going to end up getting so much more out of your ride or training session. You are going to start focusing on your positioning around your turns, where your horse is and what they are doing and actually have the ability to break your turn down and problem solve.

We hope that you enjoyed this article and have a wonderful day. Until next Tuesday!



Bible verse of the day:

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

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