Okay, so we have talked about different options and places to look for your first or even your 20th barrel horse. Now I thought I would share with you how I like to go about it.
Like I have mentioned before, we have a lot of production horse sales to attend in South Dakota. I have a few sales that are my favorites, so it’s not uncommon for me to hit a bunch of the sales looking for that perfect baby.
I like to pick up the catalog first and study it like nobody’s business. I go through the catalog looking at blood lines first (again I have my favorites) then I’ll look at the confirmation of the colt. The color of the colt is not a big deal to me, since color doesn’t make that horse run any faster! A lot of people do love certain colors though, and many times this will make the price jump pretty high. As for me, I have no problem sticking with a good old Bay or Sorrel colt.
You also have people that only look at little stud babies. This is because a lot of people don’t want to deal with a filly since down the road you will have a temperamental mare who is going to come in season, and it almost always seems to happen right when you have a rodeo coming up! Again, for me this is not a major problem. I actually like a mare, because if she is a great barrel horse and winds up getting hurt, you can always breed her down the road.
Now as far as conformation, this can be a little tricky when buying a weanling. The biggest thing is to make sure that he/she has nice straight legs. I like to look at the top and underline of a horse…I personally like a horse with a short top line (from the withers to the start of the butt) and a long underline (under the belly).
The shoulders and the hips are things a person should look at as well. A good, muscled-up baby is a great indication of an athletic horse down the road. These are all things I’ll look at once I get to the sale and have a chance to see these babies up close. I always go early so I have a chance to walk around and look at all the ones I have marked in my catalog.
Once I am at the sale, I look at everything a little bit closer and then I look for any ruptures of the umbilical cord. If it is a bad one I stay away from that colt, because a severe rupture will have you looking at possibly a surgery on this colt, and you don’t want to start putting money into a colt before you even find out if he/she is gonna be that next great barrel horse.
This brings up the next problem–I personally don’t like to sink a pile of money into these babies because this is some what of a crapshoot; you need to keep in mind you’ll have two years before you even start this horse and that’s a long time for him/her to run through a fence and get hurt or even die, and let me tell you I have had it all happen to me. I have lost nice little babies due to them trying to jump over a fence, and I have had many colts with their share of injuries, but this has not stopped me from still purchasing a colt. Not to mention, once he/she is all grown up he may not be put together right, have a bad mind and flat out hate the barrels.
I love the hard work that goes into these little guys because nothing feels better then the accomplishment of starting, finishing and hopefully owning that next great barrel horse!
About the Author
Jackie Watson was born and raised in Arizona. It was here she developed her passion for horses and barrel racing at an early age.
Today, Jackie lives in South Dakota where she & her supportive husband, Travis Veal, raising a future bareback champion, Tucker (age 15) & Jacelyn (age 4) her future barrel racing champion. Amazingly, this busy mother has held her SDRA card but currently loves participating in the 4D’s and breaking and starting barrel horses she is also working towards completing her studies in equine sports therapist.