I love a barrel racing pattern. It requires minimal setup, is easy to do with a group or individual and incorporates several riding skills and therapeutic benefits.
A barrel racing pattern incorporates circles, a figure eight, and a straight line. It requires balance, pattern recognition, hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and an understanding of left and right. Riders need to be able to use their hands independently, use core strength to maintain balance, and steer their horse through three distinct figures.
I start with the standard barrel racing pattern – circle right, circle left, half-circle left – and then change it up as the rider needs. Sometimes just doing three circles is plenty, or only circling in one direction. It is another easy pattern to scale up or down for riders depending on their individual skill level.
Have you done barrel racing patterns with your students? Leave a comment below and let me know how this has worked with your clients!