Paul Humphrey is a 10-time European barrel racing champion and veteran barrel horse trainer. Paul is known for helping riders and horses overcome problems with the first barrel.
Paul got his start training reining horses but his love for speed took him to the barrels. Paul currently trains out of
Pilot Point, Texas and gives clinics all over America and the world. He is instrumental in exporting and running top horses in Italy.
"Barrel racing is not a tug-of-war event and it's not about changing bits every time you enter the arena; it's about working and teaching the horse how to use their body correctly around the barrel," Paul said. "This involves the face, shoulders, ribs, hip, hind legs, front legs and the rider's hands, feet, seat and an understanding of how to work the horse's body."
Paul Humphrey has produced an educational DVD titled Breaking The Mold With Paul.
Paul Humphrey has been running barrels for four decades. His mother, Sue, had started young in the rodeo and was still participating after Paul was born. At ten she got him into barrel racing. He also was in 4-H and rodeo. Paul spent several years training in Italy. During this time, he won every major event Italy had to offer. He notes: "I sold probably about twenty horses over there and when the horses went over I did all the competing on them along with clinics and stuff like that."
His early training came at Play Days and horse shows. But that didn't prepare him for the vast difference he would discover in Italy. "Basically, the sport's the same but the conditions are very different. You wouldn't believe some of the arenas you have to run in."
In Italy the highways are wide, but once you leave them the streets are found to be quite narrow. The moving van type horse trucks cannot maneuver these. Fuel is much more expensive, and you are required to pay to get back onto a highway.
Is it worth the trouble? Paul says, "They have all their fairs in the bigger cities, right down in the middle of them, and there is a lot of commotion and a lot of ... well you wouldn't believe it."
The most important thing to remember if you think you want to run barrels in Italy is that the arenas are generally makeshift. "They'll take a big warehouse building and set up the arena and stalls on the inside of it and there's your arena! They'll haul in dirt on the concrete floor and all that." says Paul. "They don't have any jackpots or anything like that - it's just big fairs."
He adds, "It's nothing for them to have 2000 to 3000 spectators at each show. But the crowds are very supportive, I think a lot more supportive than the crowds we have here in the United States. It was an experience I will never forget."
Bob, who interviewed Paul says, "I had a really good visit with Paul and he proved once again that barrel racers really are some of the nicest people."
Barrel Horse trainer Paul Humphrey discusses the importance of being able to move a barrel horse's shoulders and how it effects the completion of the turn.
Paul Humphrey is known for creating barrel horses that are soft and easy to ride. He attributes much of that to having control over the horse's entire body. One area that Paul thinks most barrel racers can work on is control of the horse's shoulders which in turn, improves control of the horse's hind end.
"Many horses don't know how to move their front end," Paul said, "and your average barrel racer thinks that moving the front end means moving the horse over. What I want is that if I ask the horse to bring its nose then I want everything to follow; I want the shoulders to follow and the back end to plant like it's supposed to. If they don't know how to move the front end, then the back end will move around. If you get the front end to work, then it's easy to get their back end to work."