Training Tools with Deena Fries

Do you ever wish you could be a fly on the wall of the barrel racing world’s top trainers’ facilities? In this post, you will get to go beyond the barrels with trainer Deena Fries and find out the ins and outs of her training program. We picked her brain so that we all can learn a little from this accomplished trainer. Find out her favorite bits, her best tune-up exercises, and much more, right here. 

At what age do you like to start a horse, and at what age do you like a horse to start on the barrels?

I don’t start one on the pattern before 3.

What is your favorite training tool (snaffle bit, martingale, round pen, etc.)?

I would have to say the round pen I work all my young horses in the round pen

What do you look for in a training prospect, and what style of horse are you most attracted to?

A good mind, athletic ability and most importantly a horse that wants to work for you. I like a more working kind of horse, shorter, and stout made. I don’t get along as well with the taller racier type.

Describe your training style and your horses’ running style. How did you develop that style? 

I guess I developed my style from Mister Te Dandy. It was how he wanted to turn so I got used to that. I like a straighter approach. I want my horse’s shoulder, ribcage and hips straight, not leaning in or out of the barrel until I ask for the turn which is after my leg is past the barrel, then I want the horse to soften and come around my leg using his inside hind leg to leave the barrel hard.

What is your favorite bit for a young horse?

An o-ring

How do you teach your horses to stay calm in the alleyway?

Build confidence. If a horse knows what his job is and isn’t hurting he can stay calm. I try to make the pattern easy for them, by trying to be the same every time I work them on the barrels.

What is your favorite training exercise for a young horse?

Counter bends and moving the hind quarters.

What is your favorite tune-up exercise for an older horse?

Straight lines between the barrels. Put a cone at your turn point at the barrel and lope a straight line to it, then stop, and then roll the horse away from the barrel. This will help keep a horse honest on his approach.

Other than working the barrel pattern, what else do you do with your horses?

I do a lot of just riding around and getting one soft and supple.

Stick around tomorrow as we go in the arena with Deena!


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