Sport Specific Training for Barrel Racers!
Elite Athletes in almost every sport are training specifically outside of regular practice to the demands of their chosen sport. We see basketball players working on plant pivot type exercises, hockey players working on their explosiveness, figure skaters working in the gym to increase jump height, etc. Barrel Racers on the other hand, we exercise our horses, we do drills to increase the turn speed, create rate. But so often we forget to train ourselves outside of the saddle which in some cases may be our missing piece!
Breaking in the core is something that is common in many riders, but that barrel racers specifically can struggle with. This can cause us to get behind or lean in the turn and miss setting up for our next barrel, knock, or delay a few tenths on the clock as the horse has to work to stay underneath us or we are holding them back!
Doing exercises that mimic those kinds of forces that are created in a run can help us to stay square in the saddle and properly ride the turns to optimize our times. The Pallof Press is an excellent exercise to challenge our innermost abdominal muscles when there is a rotational force much like going around a barrel.
The Paloff Press is performed using a resistance band or cable at the gym with weight attached!
Here are some comparison of photo from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022 of our Kinesiologist before and after she started training specifically for her style of horse. You can see in Photo A her core is not strong and she is therefore unable to keep her body straight creating a collapsed side and lean resulting in getting left behind and causing the horse to bow off the barrel. Photo B from a few months later, she is finding that she has increased strength in her core to keep herself more square in the saddle allowing her to keep her hips down and forward and her horse underneath of himself, you can still see slightly in photo B that there is so work to do but a drastic improvement!