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I am not the best "rider" but I have done alot of trail riding in my day. My family and I wanted to get a horse to be part of the family and to do just plain trail riding... or back yard riding.
I have the opportunity of getting an older horse for the family. The horse Is a 19 yr old gelding who is almost 16H. But it's a retired barrel racer. I was told that he has been in rodeo all it's life and they just retired him from barrel racing this past spring.
My question is can a retired barrel racer be a good trail horse. I have asked several people their opinion in this matter and 1/2 said it can be possible and the other 1/2 said it's not.. reason being is it can stop so quickly and make quick turns that we could fall off. Is this true? Can retired barrel racers be a good backyard and trail riding horses??? Advice wanted... thanks!!
 

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It is true they can turn on and stop quickly. That is what barrel horses do. It depends on how "hot" he is. Some barrel horses don't get hot until they see the arena or the barrels. My friend has a great barrel horse she goes trail riding with and she does fine. Once that horse sees the arena or sees a barrel it's a whole new story. My horse doesn't get hot ever. She can be a mare at times but I've never had any issues taking her trail riding.
If you ever run him on a trail he might get warmed up and want to run a bit. It just depends on the horse. I would ask to ride him. Get on him and feel him out. Feel how sharp and sudden he turns when you ask. Ask them how he did with the races themselves. was he a horse that loved his job and loved to run or did he do it because he was told to?
 

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It depends on the horse. Barrel horses are usually pretty hot. I don't think i'd ever consider one for a trail horse. There are some good barrel racers out there and good trainers who know what they're doing, but I see so many in the sport that do very little with their barrel horses outside of getting them in an arena and running barrels. Many riders just go go go and don't work on other things with their horses so the horse can become hot and i've seen many become very anxious under saddle and hard to handle. A lot of them just want to run which is fine if you're doing barrels, but not for trail riding.

There are so many horses available...the market it totally flooded. You can find a sound, proven trail horse very easily. I would pass personally.
 

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I think it really depends on the horse. Some barrel racers get "alley sour" where they just get too nervous anytime they are asked to enter an arena. But if he is 19 and this hasn't been a problem he probably isn't the type to get chargey. A lot of barrel horses know their job and are only keyed up when they are about to run. Others are just "hot" all the time. If he is just a good well trained horse that ran barrels and rodeod chances are he would make an excellent trail horse, If he was a chargey "hot" individual he might settle down for trail and he might not. A lot of times arena sour or alley sour horses really benefit from some trail time.
My advice go meet the horse and take him out on the trail. See how he does. Trail riding kind of gets a bad wrap but it takes a certain set of skills for the horse too, and Just because a horse can be ridden on trails doesn't necessarily make him a good trail horse.
I wouldn't count this old guy out though without seeing him. If he was trainable enough to last and do well in rodeo for all this time, my bet is he has a good head on his pretty long neck...
 

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It depends on the horse. If I were you I would definitely test him out a few times. :)

My first horse was a gelding I got when i was little. He was a barrel racer and pole bender but hurt his back leg when he was 6 and had to have a short break. The people who had him didn't want to keep him and not be able to use him for a year so they sold them to these people who abused him pretty badly. :( Then he was rescued by a friend of the family and we got him a few weeks later. He has to be the best horse I have. He was 8 when we got him and he's 13 now and ever since we got him hes been great around kids, completely bomb proof, is very calm and gentle when inexperienced people ride and yell around him, has never even tried to buck when being rode, never goes above a walk, but he knows when i ride him and he'll change his attitude to peppy and ready to run. :)

On that same note, we had another ex-rodeo gelding that was 14 and supposedly "the perfect horse" and was as jumpy and crazy as heck. He dumped me off plenty of times and we finally ended up giving him to a horse trainer that wanted a new challenge. Who later on retired him to a life of sitting in the field and being brushed and babied by his daughter. :)
 

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I agree, they can be pretty hot, as mentioned, it all depends on the horse. If you can ride the horse before getting it, will be ideal.

Also though, some may have shin splints or other issues going on, so make sure the horse is sound. You don't want a lame horse, wouldn't be good on trail.
 

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If you are just wanting a family horse, I would find an older 'push button' horse, personally.
 

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I've seen some of those peewee rodeo horses be just as hot as any other barrel horse. From my own experience. ...unless you want to constantly be fighting for control do not get a speed horse. We will never own one at my house. ..ever. where you know you are limited with riding experience find a different one.
 

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See I don't like a dead head trail horse that hangs his head down. All my horses have their heads up and are alert and happy on the trail. They step out too. I know everyone wants something different but I don't like a slug of a horse. My trail horse will cross water, travel roads, cross bridges, be comfortable in forested areas, be comfortable in open fields. Not spook at yappy dogs, or cars, or other people. Heck Buddy and I were even dive bombed by a squirrel once and he didn't freak the thing jumped and missed his limb and fell to the ground right beside Buddy. He just turned his head and looked at me. I like a horse that is mindful and watchful of his footing and not clumsy. Clyde was absolutely bombproof but was bad to step in holes and trip over tree limbs, vines, and rocks, because he wasn't mindful of his feet. I had to learn to watch for him. Fire always knew were he was putting his feet and so does Buddy. To me trail horses should be calm and relaxed and well trained but not dead sided lifeless horses who just don't cause problems because they are too lazy to get up and move.
Also I like short horses for trail, because I am short and because you don't hit tree limbs as often. That doesn't mean a tall horse is a bad trail horse, just something else to consider.
 

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Yes some can be good trail horses but mind they are hit horses that are ready to go. But some can be good trail horses but they get hot when it is time to do their job which is barrel racing. So it basically depends on the horse and its training.
 
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