The Rafter 3 Barrel Racing Training Scale


The tools you need to revolutionize your barrel racing training program developed using the German Training Scale.
The tools you need to revolutionize your barrel racing training program, developed using the German Training Scale.


Hello everyone and welcome back to Rafter 3 Horse Development.

Today we are going to be introducing the historical references and roots of our exclusive barrel racing horse training scale that will be available through articles, videos, and courses very soon! We are thrilled to bring this tried and true system to you sooner than you can imagine!

(Want to take your barrel racing to the next level and then some? Make sure you stay tuned for updates and release dates for this AWESOME course material!)


We are going to dive into the beginning of a really fun and learning-intensive study of the training scale and different aspects of horse training that go into putting together a finished horse.

Using the training scale to curate your own program is applicable to every horse and rider team that is focused on obtaining the most effective and well-structured training system available.

In this article, I am going to introduce you to the German training scale, which is what our western and barrel racing horse training scale is based on. 


Introduction To The German Training Scale

The German Training Scale
The German Training Scale


The training scale was created almost 100 years ago, in Germany, for their army. 

“It is called “Skala der Ausbildung” and was first formulated in the famous Heeresdienstvorschrift (army training manual) from 1912 (HDV 12) by General von Redwitz and Colonel Hans von Heydebreck. Heydebreck and, the last director of the cavalry riding school in Hannover, Colonel Felix Bürkner, were in charge of the last two editions of the HDV (I believe it was 1927 and 1935). In these last versions, the modern training scale was canonized. After WWII, the German FN published its “Richtlinien für Reiten und Fahren” (guidelines for riding and driving) based on the old HDV, including the training scale.

During the last decade or so, the training scale, or training pyramid, as it is often called, has found its way to the US and has become increasingly popular. Most readers will be familiar with it; but it does not hurt to repeat the elements of the scale as a reminder. 

There are six elements that are generally listed in this order: Rhythm/Tempo (Takt), Relaxation (Losgelassenheit),

Rein Contact (Anlehnung), Impulsion (Schwung), Straightness (Geraderichtung), Collection (Versammlung). All six items on the list are categories of gymnastic training.”- Dressage And Sport Horse Magazine


The German Training Scale:

Accustoming a horse to the weight of a rider/ groundwork.

Takt- (Rhythm)

Losgelassenheit- (Relaxation)

The Development of Thrust

The Development of The Horse’s Gaits

Anlehnung- (Contact)

Geraderichten- (Straightness)

Schwung -(Impulsion)

The Development of carrying power

Versammlung- (Collection)

The Origination of elevation


Source for the The German Training Scale in depth: Dressage Today


Before we begin:

As riders and trainers, we need to keep in mind that each horse is an individual.

The German training scale and even our own barrel racing training scale is not a “hard and fast system.”

You need to have give and take, and flexibility within your training program.

Craft your program around each horse using this scale as a platform to base your entire program on.

Having a consistent foundation for your program while maintaining the ability to customize it is going to give you the ability to create a “signature look” to your training and sales horses (if you are a trainer) while maintaining the ability to work efficiently with each unique horse and their needs. 


Establishing a sense of what your horse needs:

When you are crafting a training program for a horse you need to decipher a few things.

They will vary slightly depending on if the horse is new to you or not, and how well you know the horse.

Every horse is going to need something a little different at different periods of time and at different stages in their training.


You need to first figure out where you are starting with your horse.

Here is a short list of questions you can ask yourself to get started:

There are many questions that can help quide you in setting up or reforming your current training plan with your horse.

For a horse who is dealing with nervousness and tension, more than likely you are going to need to start with relaxation and establishing a connection and rhythm. Riding lots of circles, doing bending, and desensitizing would be great for a horse in this category. 

For a horse who is very lazy and doesn’t want to put effort into working or utilizing their bodies you will want to work on connection, the development of thrust, and strengthening the horses body so they are able to carry themselves.

Then, after some of these fundamentals are developed, going back and working on relaxation and rhythm would be advisable.

Another thing to think of with a lazy horse is that they are generally unbalanced. Working on building balance should also be heavily incorporated. When a horse is unbalanced, they will usually need aid in developing straightness. 

As you can see, every horse is different and will be needing different pieces of the horse training “puzzle” implemented at different times, but each horse will need every piece of the training scale to be completely finished. 


How to judge your horse’s development with the training scale

You can very easily use the training scale as a means to judge your horses development through the various aspects of training involved in creating the finished horse you desire to create.

While you are working and riding your horse or client’s horses, you can take notes of everything you do, what went wrong, what went right, and various things that you noticed during the session.

After a few weeks, you can begin to compare these notes and notice patterns and variations that are showing up with your horses.

Using the training scale, you can go through a process of elimination with each aspect of training and figure out what strengths and weaknesses that your horse currently exhibits.

This is a helpful tool to use while planning which exercises and activities to do with your horse each ride to obtain your ultimate and even short term goals.

The training scale can easily also be used to implement strategic goals in your training program that help you easily focus in on the goals and then realize when you have obtained them. (This is a really cool thing to start seeing if you haven’t witnessed/ experienced this before.) 


Why Do I Use Mostly “Dressage” Training Methods, Even With My Barrel Racing Horses? 

I have a very firm belief that the “dressage” training scale is simply the fundamentals of proper horse training, no matter what discipline you ride, train, or show.

Every one of these aspects within the training scale is essential to being able to perform maneuvers asked of a horse in every riding discipline and style, especially with barrel racing horses.

A well-rounded horse that is mechanically correct in their balance, movement, and natural collection is going to be handy and competitive in any show pen, competition, or event.

While I personally believe these things and have had the pleasure to experience the results and can assure you that it works, not everyone, actually most everyone more than likely will not agree with me.

This is primarily due to pre-conceived style differences and “incompatibility” between the disciplines.

I don’t know about you, but training a horse should be fairly standardized across the horse industry and once training has been implemented, add in your certains style differences and shape the program from the beginning towards your specific industry or goals. 


Use the scale as a foundational building block… A cornerstone if you will.


For some reason, every time I think of the building blocks of horse training and implementing that foundational cornerstone in your training program that is a solidified and proven plan to initiate and engage training, I immediately think of  Isaiah 28:16 where the God speaks of laying the cornerstone which is firmly placed and that this cornerstone is sure.

It is perfect and good.

It is speaking of Jesus Christ, but, if you were to take this verse and consider a parable from it that we can implement into our horse training it would speak to us about ensuring that what we do with our horses needs to have structure, foundation, kindness, and care at the heart of the program.

Just the same way Christ showed this to us and has become our cornerstone, the same aspects can show through in our training and bring light to this world as an example against traditional, harsh, inhumane methodologies. 


Isaiah 28:16

Therefore thus says the Lord God,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,

A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.

He who believes in it will not be disturbed.




If God gave us the ability to work with horses and have control over their immense power, then I believe there is a lot about horse training that can be drawn from biblical sources that is helpful for our clients horses or out own horses. 


Thank you for tuning into our article today, I hope that this article explaining the process and German training scale system of horse training has been helpful in breaking down the process in creating a finished horse.

Horse training isn’t rocket science, but it is strategic and has a rhyme and reason behind everything.

Breaking each part of horse training down into bite-size pieces makes learning and implementing a proper training process much easier and also helps to ensure you don’t miss any of the “buttons” on your finished horse!


Rafter 3 Horse Development is in the process of finishing an entire program centered around this unique and wonderful training scale system… are you looking forward to seeing and experiencing it? Sign up for updates and never miss an article or release from us again! Thanks for tuning in. Make sure to like and share!