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Having Problems Moving Through the Turns? Ali Armstrong Shares 4 Tips That Will Help

Last updated on May 10, 2024

Having Problems Moving Through the Turns? Barrel Racer Shares 4 Tips That Will Help

Rookie and seasoned barrel racers alike know that one of the hardest things is to keep a horse moving through the turns during a run. Ali Armstrong, an avid AE user and barrel racer has a few key things she does to make sure her horses make the turns without hitting the barrels. And lucky for us, she is kindly sharing a few of them with us! 


4 Tips To Keep Moving Through the Turns

1. It’s (Probably) Not Them, It’s You.


As much as we all want to throw our suckers in the dirt and blame our horses when we hit barrels and miss out on any chance of a paycheck, let’s get real… It’s probably not them. It’s you.
”If I’m hitting barrels,” Ali shares, “and I go back and look at my video, 9 times out of 10 it’s not the horse’s fault. I’m dropping a shoulder or looking down.” Horses are extremely perceptive to their rider’s movements, weight adjustments, and changes in center of gravity- which makes them amazing at so many different things. However, especially on a well broke and well-trained horse with “all the buttons,” an incorrect body position can cue your horse to do something other than what you REALLY want them to do. Like hit a barrel. 

2. Don’t Focus on the Barrel

  • Think about what you need to do to get AROUND the barrel, not the barrel itself.
  • Ali finds a spot in the arena or on the fence and focuses on that point during her run. That way she can pay attention to her horse’s movements, not the barrels.
  • The age-old driving advice of “you’ll go where you’re looking” applies to barrel racing as well. We are built to go where our focus is, so find a spot other than the center of the barrel to focus your eyes on!

3. Ride Them to Their Hip

  • To get a ratey horse moving through the turns well, Ali will ride them to their hip before making them turn.
  • Don’t allow your horse to start the turn until their hip is past the barrel! Many times, barrel racers will try to start the actual turn too soon, resulting in downed barrels. 

4. Get Back to Basics

  • For her older barrel horses, Ali doesn’t do a lot of barrel drills. She keeps them exercised of course, but does other things like basic groundwork or runs poles. This keeps them from getting bored and complacent in the arena.
  • For younger horses, she likes to do a bit more with barrels. One of her favorite drills is a 4-barrel drill in a square.
  • When Panama is getting especially ratey, she will set up a single barrel in a corner of her arena, set up from the opposite corner, and then run him flat out to that barrel. He might run by it, or he might hit the turn. “This makes them pay attention to you,” Ali says, “since they can anticipate turns too.”

How Do You Keep Moving Through the Turns? Share Your Stories With Us!


Keeping a horse moving through the turns during a barrel run can be challenging for riders of all levels. Your turns can make or break your runs, so it’s super important to be able to keep a horse moving through the turns without knocking down a barrel. Hopefully, these 4 ideas from Ali Armstrong can help you get your turns smoother and keep your horse moving around the barrels flawlessly. What other ways have you found to get your horses turning well around the barrels? We’d love to hear! Comment here or on Facebook for a chance to get featured! Even better, send us an email

To read more about Ali and Panama’s journey with Animal Element, read these blogs: From Injury to Qualifying, and What Does It Actually Take to Keep an Older Horse Competing? If you’re interested in becoming an authorized dealer of our supplements, please contact Mark Kaylor at (509) 301-1798.