Are You Making These 3 Critical Training Mistakes?

Top trainer Andre Coelho explains three barrel racing training mistakes he commonly sees and how to prevent them.

Andre Coelho, the top trainer at Smoke Creek Quarter Horses, breaks down three common barrel racing training mistakes he sees and how to prevent them in the future.

No. 1: Don’t Skip Steps

“For me, to train a horse is a lot like kids at school,” said Coelho. “Like with kids if you skip some grades the kid is going to have some trouble. With horses, if you don’t go step by step then when you get to the show something that’s not right is going to happen. For me one of the most common problems I see at the barrel races is when people don’t spend the right kind of time on each step of the process with the horse.”

No. 2: Stop It

“Another thing I see is that people don’t know when to stop,” said Coelho. “If I ask something of my horse and he gives me a good answer, I quit right there. I want him to go to his stall or his pen or whatever thinking about how [that ride] was a good deal for him. Sometimes the horse gives you the right answer and you keep trying, trying, trying until they get bored, and then the horse doesn’t want to try anymore.”

No. 3: Perfect Your Position

“Talking about rider issues, I think [the rider’s] body position is something that can cause a lot of trouble with horses, or people that don’t look at the spot they want to go to, they just look at the barrel. This makes the horse anticipate and sometimes crash barrels.”

About Andre Coelho

Andre Coelho, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, lives in Bennett, Colorado, with his wife, Renata, and two young daughters. Coelho works as the resident trainer for Bill and Cheryl Kennedy’s Smoke Creek Quarter Horses. Coelho had established a flourishing barrel horse training business in Brazil where he became a dominant force in ABQM, the Brazilian equivalent to AQHA. However, committed to testing his skills further, Coelho traveled to the United States regularly to ride with leading trainers before making the decision to move to the U.S. and test himself against the competition. He has worked as head trainer at Smoke Creek Quarter Horses for the past several years, and in 2019 became the first Brazilian to win a top futurity in the U.S., which he accomplished riding Smoke Creek’s Tiny’s Stormy Weather to the 5-States Futurity title.

Andre Coelho and Fabulous JJ, owned by Smoke Creek Quarter Horses. Photo by Bill Lawless

Andre is one of the featured coaches on’s Ride TV channel, where he provides valuable instruction on a wide range of topics, including more barrel racing training tips.