Barrel Racing Drill: Clover Leaf
If you have having problems with your horse diving into the barrel, stiffening up in their approach, of losing their correct body position as they get closer to the pocket then this drill is for you.
This drill should first be performed at a trot then graduating to a lope. Think of it like a four-leaf clover with the barrel placed in the center of the clover. Do circles in each of the four quadrants of the arena (I use only half the arena for this drill). Stay on the same lead and pass the barrel on the same side for each of the four circles until you stop and change directions.
I prefer to start this drill two-handed and once your horse builds their consistency, you can try it one-handed. Begin by lifting your inside hand slightly above your outside hand. Hold it here steady, do not bounce the rein on the bit. Don't cross the center of their mane with your inside hand, simply elevate it slightly above their shoulder. This is to lift and block their inside shoulder. Squeeze or bump your outside calf against their belly, close to the back cinch area. This will push their hip to the inside. Don't over do moving their hip in. You want them traveling just slightly to the inside of a straight line for this drill.
The goal is to get your horse to pass by the barrel on a straight line, with a consistent headset, cadence, and body position. Once you get 1-2 honest efforts from your horse to stay consistent while passing the barrel, stop and praise them.
For more drills, check out my YouTube channel.