So I know some of you are wondering/have asked me in the past about barrel racing pictures and whatnot, what looks good and what doesn't and I was Googling today and found a great barrel racing turn and thought I would share it with you as a textbook example.
As you see, the rider is quiet and in balance, leaning out of the turn with quiet legs. The inside toe is turned down which is the only fault I see with this picture, but the hands are forward (doesn't look like she's clutching the horn at all) and she isn't hauling to the side or even really pulling on the inside rein. Her body language and weight is showing him where to go. You see the reins are loose but not flying or being flung anywhere and he's not set against them.
The horse himself looks very relaxed like he knows what he's doing and trusts his rider. His head is down and forward to work with the turn, not up and stiff or unnaturally low. His ears are back listening to his rider and in concentration. They aren't pinned and they aren't focusing on anything else because that horse is focused and comfortable in his job.
He is bent very very well with his head in the right spot and his whole body wrapped around the turn. He is on the right lead and he's so close to the ground the girls' inside leg could probably touch. And he's well balanced enough that getting out of that lean and bend isn't going to be hard for him.
Nothing in the tack is too tight or pinching or looking like it's in any way hindering the horse and the two make a great pair. Check it out!
On the other side of the spectrum, we find a crappy rider. Not centered, leaning into the turn, hauling on the poor horse's mouth, flying out of the saddle, clutching the horn, heels up, and just all-round chaos. Compare the two horses and decide which one is more comfortable and which one is going to have a faster, closer turn.
Then decide which one likes its job more.
For the sake of comparison, I picked a picture where the horse is in almost the same stage of the turn as the previous picture.