Barrel Racing Mastery: The Importance of the Second Turn and Rider Form

Barrel Racing is a popular equestrian sport that requires a combination of speed, agility, and precise control. The second turn in a Barrel Racing competition is considered one of the most critical elements, as it can make or break a rider’s performance. In this article, we will explore strategies for mastering the second turn and achieving success in Barrel Racing competitions.

Are you having issues around your second barrel in your barrel racing course? OR, maybe you just want to add some extra speed around that second barrel.

Let’s discover barrel racing mastery and the importance of the second turn and rider form!

Understanding your Horse:

Before attempting to perfect the second turn, it’s crucial to understand your horse’s training and personality. By utilizing horse training techniques and working with your horse’s unique personality, you can improve their performance and build a strong bond. with them. 

The second barrel can create many challenges for horses and riders during their barrel racing runs. Did you know that the second barrel is the most commonly tipped-over barrel out of all three?

This is primarily because you have the shortest distance between the barrel, and usually, you are heading toward the wall.

This can cause your horse to prematurely rate or slow down, without doing so correctly and effectively. You can think of it as your horse “bracing for impact” instead of engaging their hindquarters, shifting their weight, and preparing.

for the turn. This is also called anticipation, which can be a common commodity among barrel racing horses of all ages and training levels.

Anticipation can lead to a world of problems that will start to be seen in every aspect of your barrel racing run. 

But, beyond anticipation, we also need to consider our form when riding and what is happening in our own bodies. The way we ride, and even our physical fitness level will impact the way our horse performs and is able to use their body.

Watch Charmayne James on mastering the second barrel in barrel racing

Approaching the Second Turn

Proper speed control and maneuvering techniques are critical to executing a successful second turn. It’s important to approach the turn at the right speed and to have a clear plan for maneuvering around the barrel.

How to fix common issues and master the second barrel

There are quite a few things you can do to solve issues around the second barrel. Many trainers may say that the issue lies in the horse’s shoulder, and while this can be somewhat accurate, there usually is a lot more at play. Here are some of the important aspects we need to look into when trying to master the second barrel in barrel racing.

As with most things with our horses, there is not always a “one-size-fits-all” method, but there is a generalized plan that you can use to tackle issues around the second barrel or optimize your run to add speed.

The first thing that we need to do is break down the pattern and isolate the “nuts and bolts” of your pattern. If you handle your barrel racing pattern this way, you will not only be able to identify weaknesses or issues and begin to work on them strategically, but you will also begin to quickly dissolve the issue of anticipation.

Here is what goes on in my head when I am breaking down a pattern:

  • Your barrel racing run or pattern is the MANEUVER. The end goal.
  • If you want to master your barrel racing pattern, you have to break it down into exercises that curate the strength, training, ability, and conditioning to masterfully run your maneuver (barrel racing pattern.)

Next after practicing the pieces of your pattern and correcting issues and becoming aware of our horse’s foot placement and what is going on with their body then we can begin to practice pieces/ exercises together and start putting your pattern back together. I still would caution that you do not run your barrels too much, otherwise, your anticipation issue may begin again. Another way to handle anticipation is to “ride them through it” or, whenever your horse starts anticipating, do something that they are not expecting.


Your horse starts drifting off the barrel or starts anticipating and you can feel it in their body or even visually see it…

Push them forward and drive them up to the wall… take them left and do a circle…. drop down and trot around the barrel, etc. 

Doing things that cause your horse to rethink anticipation around your barrel will help to put their mind back on what you are asking them to do.

Check out our article Barrel Racing Exercises To Take You To The Next Level

Practicing the Second Turn

Practice is key to perfecting the second turn.

Regularly incorporating practice drills into your training sessions will help you hone your skills and improve your performance.

It’s also important to focus on making each practice session as effective as possible by using techniques like visualization and positive reinforcement.

When you are practicing your turn, it is essential to be mindful of what is happening in your own body. As we discussed previously, even the slightest unintentional change within our bodies can throw off our horse entirely.

Make sure that your body and hands are where they need to be, and are not hindering your horses ability to be maneuverable, agile, or complete their turn.

Overcoming Common Challenges

Tight turns and maintaining balance and control can be common challenges in Barrel Racing.

By understanding these challenges and utilizing techniques like relaxation and visualization, you can overcome these obstacles and achieve success in your barrel racing competitions.

Check out our other barrel racing articles

Final thoughts on mastering the second barrel in barrel racing

Thank you for tuning in with us today! Mastering the second barrel in barrel racing does not have to be difficult if you break your pattern down into easy-to-digest and problem-solve steps. In no time, you will be flying around your barrels with speed and agility! Let us know in the comments below how these tips and tricks helped you, OR what do you do that we didn’t cover in this article? Let us know below!

Have a great day!



Bible Verse Of The Day:

Exodus 15:2 2 “The LORD is my strength and my defense ; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.


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