Have you been suffering from Acute Horse Related Bad Weather Depression?
If so, you’re not alone.
In fact, extreme weather and cold temperatures caused by the Polar Vortex have resulted in some of the most extreme winter weather in history, causing thousands of barrel racers to be dramatically affected by this crippling disorder.
Symptoms include irritability, lethargy, frost bite, overeating and weight gain, depression, fatigue, poor attitude, shivering, crying spells, fits of anger & rage, difficulty concentrating, pale complexions, extremely long leg hair, numb extremities, excessive BarrelHorseWorld.com surfing, day dreaming of Caribbean vacations, and persistent thoughts of driving with the truck windows down.
Although sunshine and warm temperatures are the only known cure, there IS much that can be done to lessen the symptoms of AHRBWD.
In all seriousness, there actually are tons of things barrel racers can do in the winter months get a head start on a successful season – many that don’t even involve riding.
Most important is that we train ourselves to always see what IS possible vs. what isn’t, even in adverse circumstances. Even in extreme cold weather, opportunities abound for learning and growth that we may never have access to otherwise.
Being a successful barrel racer involves much more than riding and training horses.
This critical “possibility mindset” is a huge part of what separates true winners from the rest of the crowd.
Today, I’ve shared 101 tips for how to best utilize your time in what remains of the winter to not only “turn your winter weather frown upside down,” but also get a good jump start on what could quite possibly be your most successful barrel racing season yet!
- Plan your barrel racing budget for the year with all the details for entries, fuel, expenses, etc.
- Remember this quote by Anne Bradstreet – “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
- Take a sample of your horse’s hay (or pasture if it’s not covered in snow) and have it tested for nutrient content to balance your horse’s diet.
- If you don’t already, put together an emergency kit or winter survival kit for your vehicles.
- Cuddle with your loved ones, both two legged and four legged – who and whatever is available and warm!
- Play the “touch it game” to give your horse some mental exercise.
- Wondering whether you need to blanket your horse? Click here for a great reference from Auburn Agriculture.
- Invite your barrel buddies over for Hawaiian pizza and Pina Coladas. Turn the heat up to 90 degrees (wear a tank top), then sit in lawn chairs to reminisce over your past victories and learning experiences, and make plans for more good times and success in the coming summer.
- Wrap up in a blanket on the couch and watch training DVDs – check out an entire horse training video library at GiddyUpFlix.com.
- Improve your horse’s vertical (poll) flexion.
- Never be without smart wool socks.
- Give you horse a tail massage.
- Talk to your employer about re-arranging your work schedule so you can get more riding in (go in early, take long lunch breaks a couple days a week, leave early on Fridays, etc.)
- Improve your horse’s lateral flexion to halter pressure.
- Improve your horse’s responsiveness by refining their understanding of how to yield ALL body parts to steady pressure, both on the ground and under saddle.
- Study up on the subject of hoof care, anatomy and function. Invest in Care and Rehabilitation of the Equine Foot by Pete Ramey to empower yourself with knowledge to build a good physical foundation for your horses.
- Get a fecal egg count done to make sure your deworming program is on track.
- Get ahead on any projects now that will free up more time to spend with your horse when the weather is nice.
- If you need and want to keep riding, competing and hauling, allow yourself plenty of extra time to get from point A to point B, remember it’s better to arrive late than not at all – stay safe!
- Watch, or re-watch Buck, The Film.
- Get the Success in the Saddle DVD set to boost your strength/balance, fitness and riding ability.
- If you don’t blanket your horse, but occasionally ride in a heated arena, be sure to outfit them with a wool or fleece cooler to gradually cool and dry their coat when it gets sweaty.
- Teach your horses to lead forward or backwards by the chin, ear, one foot, etc.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder IS a real condition that affects mostly women. If you think you may be having symptoms, consider phototherapy or click here for more ideas to defeat SAD.
- Remember that “tough times don’t last, tough people do.”
- Read or re-read Think Harmony With Horses by Ray Hunt.
- Use pressure and release to teach your horse to drop their head to the lightest touch.
- When you lead your horse from point A to B, see if you can do so without letting them know the halter is there – will they follow your feel without you having to put tension on the rope?
- Spray the bottom of your horse’s feet with non-stick cooking spray to prevent snow/ice from sticking when you go dashing through the snow.
- Be thankful for all the green grass and hay this winter’s moisture will help produce. Moisture = more/less expensive hay!
- Teach your horse to pick up their feet when you tap on their fetlock – tap, Tap, TAP in phases of increasing pressure, then ask for a shift of weight and pick up the foot only if necessary, give them a treat, repeat.
- Using an obstacle like a log, go over it forward, backwards and sideways, both on the ground or under saddle while seeing how well you can “talk to” one foot at a time.
- Catch up on episodes of Women’s Pro Rodeo Today, click here to check TV schedules (make sure it’s set to record on your DVR).
- Get your horse more comfortable with having their mouth/tongue handled and examined.
- Be grateful for your new found appreciation of warm summer sun.
- Write a note of thanks to those who make your cold weather horse care + activities possible (husbands, facility managers, event producers, etc.).
- If you decide not to ride/compete in extreme weather or just “take a break,” don’t feel guilty about it. Everyone, including horses, can benefit from a long break.
- Make lots of hearty, healthy soups with root vegetables and warming spices.
- Browse the forums or ads at BarrelHorseWorld.com.
- Browse Real Estate for Sale in Texas or other warmer, southern states.
- Keep your legs extra warm with some leather chinks, like these affordable ones available on e-bay.
- Organize your closets and get a head start on spring cleaning.
- Choose a certain temperature that is your determining factor between “too cold to ride” and “cowgirl up,” (I personally don’t ride unless it’s at least 10 degrees above zero).
- Consider just not riding during the most extreme weather – it’s OK to be a “fair weather cowgirl” when conditions are dangerous. Know when to be tough, and when to be smart.
- Can you swing a rope, rope a dummy, or even rope your horse without him being bothered? Use approach and retreat with good timing to build your horse’s confidence.
- “Box step” by asking for one step left, back, right, and forward, then reverse. Get your horse more comfortable, calm and responsive when asked to move their feet very precisely.
- Increase responsiveness and respect by regularly backing your horse in and out of the pasture/pen/or stall.
- If you can’t ride, spend some quality “undemanding time” with you horse. If you horse can be hard to catch, use your halter as a grooming tool.
- Learn more about equine anatomy and body work with Beyond Horse Massage by Jim Masterson.
- Look ranchy and stay warm with a silk wild rag, then click here to learn how to tie them properly.
- Ride bareback to cut down on preparation time and keep your legs warm.
- Invest in high quality winter riding gear, such as long underwear, gloves and boots.
- Make sure you have the right balance of coolant in your vehicle.
- Catch up on issues of Barrel Horse News.
- Sweat every day if possible – working out boots circulation and elevates mood. Proper circulation is necessary for staying warm.
- Build a solar water tank (horses are more likely to drink water that is slightly warm, increasing hydration and lessening the likelihood of colic).
- Read or re-read “Secrets to Barrel Racing Success” + get your FREE copy of The Barrel Racer’s Guide to Speed Development.
- While standing in front of your horse, practice backing and bringing him back toward you on the ground with just a look, intention or suggestion (use your energy to drive/draw, send a wave of feel down the lead rope if necessary).
- Teach your horse to move forward and backward by one stride only, then half a stride, then just a shift of weight, until he can rock back and forth based on your subtle suggestion.
- Teach your horse to be responsible for standing still without being tied, such as with their foot in a rubber feet pan or standing on a rubber mat.
- Think of any annoying habits your horse has, take measures to deal with and start resolving them now.
- Find a hot tub, any hot tub (even call a nearby hotel to see if they allow locals), and have a good soak once a week.
- Get an automatic starter for your vehicle.
- If your horses are extra fresh due to being cooped up and ground conditions are poor, bundle up and take them for a walk instead of riding.
- Get a bit warmer to avoid the cold shock to your horse’s mouth when you put the bridle on.
- Is your horse truly comfortable being touched everywhere on his body? If not, use approach and retreat to work on this.
- Get a video subscription to BarrelHorseTraining.com.
- Look cute even in the cold, with a stormy kromer hat.
- Spend five minutes stroking your horse’s neck lightly and slowly. It’s surprising how enjoyable this can for you and your horse.
- Practice hindquarter and forequarter yields.
- Consider giving your young horses a break and only keeping your seasoned campaigners going in the winter – it’s much easier to exercise a horse than it is to train in cold weather (it’s hard to have “FEEL” under six layers of clothing!).
- Ask your horse to sidepass down the barn aisle with either steady or rhythmic pressure.
- Visit WPRA.com to print and fill out your permit application (if going pro is your goal, post it in a visible place and set a date for when you’d like to be ready to start entering).
- Create a vision board or mind movie.
- Introduce you horse to equine pilates, to strengthen and stretch their abdominals and topline.
- Load a syringe with apple sauce before you head the barn (when it’s warm enough not to freeze right away) and give it to your horse regularly to help him be better about deworming.
- Remember, that you’re not the only one. Drastic weather has slowed us ALL down (even those of us in Texas) – we’re all in this together!
- Read True Horsemanship Through Feel by Bill Dorrance and Leslie Desmond.
- Organize your photo albums, scrapbooks, or consider creating an online photo album.
- If your horse is blanketed, make absolutely sure the blanket fits properly (doesn’t cut into the withers or rub hair off). Be sure to take it off regularly (especially when it warms up) to check your horse’s body condition.
- Winter is a time of rest and renewal, there are seasons and cycles in our life – accept and enjoy them rather than fight them.
- Teach your horse to have patience at feeding time and wait at behind a barrier (such as wood pole on the ground) until your signal (such as lowering your hand) to come eat. Remember the leader decides who eats and when – don’t allow your horse to rudely invade your space for food.
- Bring your saddles, bridles and tack the house, spread it all out on an old bed sheet in the living room and watch a movie as you clean your tack.
- Get together with your barrel buddies to reserve and share the expense of renting a heated, indoor riding facility on a regular basis.
- Get some tropical screensavers for your computer with sun, white sand, turquoise water and palm trees.
- Look forward to never complaining that it’s “too hot” again!
- Find your horse’s favorite itchy spot.
- Organize your recipe collection (after all – who’ll have time for this in the summer!?).
- Make sure your equine first aid kit is well stocked and that items like bute, banamine, etc. are kept in a warm, yet accessible place.
- When you feel like you’re losing your identity, remember this quote from NFR barrel racer and top futurity rider & trainer, Jordan Briggs – “Barrel racing is what you do, it is not who you are.”
- Check out CinchChix.net for hay (and money) saving, slow feeder nets.
- Have a horse hair analysis completed to make sure your horse is receiving all the proper nutrients and doesn’t have any deficiencies, toxicities or imbalances in their diet.
- Read or re-read True Horsemanship Through Feel by Bill Dorrance and Leslie Desmond.
- As you walk, can you get in time with your horse’s footfalls? Practice getting in harmony with one another going forward, backward and laterally.
- Make food ahead of time and load up the freezer for quick, easy meals for those late evenings at the barn or arena.
- Repeat a mantras such as “green grass and hay” or “at least we don’t have hurricanes.”
- Get some Cowgirl Boot Slippers to keep your tootsies toasty.
- Always remember – it could be worse. It REALLY could be.
- When you must exercise your horses in a snowy pasture, do more straight lines than circles. On slick footing like snow, the smaller the circles, the more likely your horse is to lose his footing.
- Visit the Resources page here at BarrelRacingTips.com for a whole library of recommended books and DVDs.
- Lastly, remember this quote – “On particularly tough days, when I feel that I can’t possibly endure, I remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days is 100%.”
How’s that for making winter more tolerable?
I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts and tips for making it through this brutal weather.
I look forward to your comments below!
If there’s one thing that has both bewildered and fascinated me over the years, it’s collection.
Most of us realize that there is much more to it than our horse’s headset.
However, for a long time (like most barrel racers), I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Unfortunately, even those competitors who are quite accomplished are leaving money at the entry office by neglecting to fully understand, focus on and create true quality movement.
I’m fortunate that I got a taste of the difference it can make on the barrel pattern early on.
This has motivated me to continue studying, learning, practicing and experimenting – ALL with a desire to create movement that was more balanced and powerful, and therefore FASTER.
Even though I’ve spent a considerable amount of time learning how to create authentic collection, I feel like I floundered around quite a bit before things started really coming together.
I know I’m not the only one, so below I’ve shared some theory to clarify this murky, and often misunderstood concept, as well as some tips for creating it for yourself, which I’m confident will benefit your runs – in more ways than one!
Read more… »
In the spirit of the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, today I’ll be sharing some insight for fulfilling your purpose and strengthening your relationships (to yourself, others, even your horses) that is sure to make a positive impact in the arena!
Because it’s ALL connected, you know.
Although you may not visibly see the correlation, that which happens IN the arena is effected by what happens outside the arena.
In the same sort of way, when you make a positive change in one area of your life (whether you’re aware of it or not) – the others tend to improve as well.
Read more… »
A few years ago I was having trouble with my gelding anticipating the second barrel and cutting in too closely – a common problem in the barrel racing world. It’s even more common on the second barrel where we have the shortest distance between barrels and run straight toward a wall or fence, which definitely plays a role in our horses getting short and anticipating that turn even more.
Focusing ahead and actively riding him further in the hole helped, but I really wanted to do something to lessen his desire to drop in to begin with.
We weren’t tipping a lot of barrels YET, but I knew the issue had the potential to develop into a more major problem if I didn’t address it.
So, I employed the help of the good ol’ barrel racing standby – the counter arc.
You can imagine my surprise a few weeks later, when I tested our progress in competition. I was hustling him across the pen, and when I offered some subtle rein contact to round the second barrel, my gelding stiffened up like he had rigor mortis!
He felt like he’d swallowed a 2×4.
My almost over-bendy, soft and supple barrel horse was literally stiffer than a board in that turn – I had never felt anything quite that extreme, or that awful.
I was so shocked and confused. But after quickly flipping through my mental rolodex, there was only one thing I could attribute the change to – Read more… »
A genuine, intense and foundational love of horses is what inspires me, not just to be a top barrel racer, but a true horseman. It’s a fascination that borders the edge of obsession – and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Figuring out how both human AND horse can come together and truly WIN (in the barrel racing arena especially), is my passion.
So you can imagine my disappointment, when after taking six months off from riding to bring “Secrets to Barrel Racing Success” to life in 2012, just months after it’s launch, and days before my gelding and I were scheduled to return to competition, he came up mysteriously lame.
Little did I know then, that such an adverse circumstance would lead me on one of the greatest personal development journeys of my life.
I often refer to 2013 as the year I took my barrel horse through physical rehabilitation, and my husband’s rope horse through mental rehabilitation. I didn’t expect either to take nearly as long, but then there were a lot of unexpected surprises along the way!
In my never-ending quest for becoming an all-around excellent horseman, outside of barrel racing I’ve enjoyed experiences that range from showing hunt seat equitation, to starting colts, creating positive breakthroughs for troubled horses, achieving success in reining, and more.
I should add however, that just doing all these things doesn’t mean a rider is on a path to becoming a true horseman, in fact, far from it. I believe the importance is in how you go about it, the things you learn, the way you grow and change, and who you become as a result.
Today’s article is about the powerful insight I gained through what many would consider a very atypical path for a barrel racer to follow. But then, I never claimed to be a “typical barrel racer!” Read more… »
Have you heard the saying about how many young couples tend to put more time and effort into planning their wedding, than planning their marriage?
It’s a shame to think that happens, but a lot of people also put more time and effort into planning their New Year’s Eve celebrations than they do planning their New Year.
Just like any great barrel run requires a good start in the alley – when we prepare ourselves with a great beginning, we set ourselves up for success in everything we do.
No matter what time of year (or month, or day) it is, don’t underestimate the power of planning for success!
The ten tips below were developed with the intention to help catapult you toward your wildest barrel racing dreams in the new year.
My wish is that 12 months from now, you’ll look back and realize you’ve gone above and beyond!
To begin, let’s…
1. Look in the Rearview – A big part (and the first part) of planning a successful new year comes in reflecting on the past year. This is a great way to realize what’s working, what’s not, AND start thinking about what to do about it!
Below are some questions to get you started…
Read more… »
When asking the top 15 NFR barrel racers what it takes to keep their equine athletes going strong, you’d expect 15 different answers. However, if there’s one thing nearly all of rodeo’s leading ladies would agree on – it’s that the secret is not necessarily an expensive gadget, a supplement, or a certain type of body therapy – it’s in simply KNOWING your horse.
While physically supporting our horses IS often done through a combination of the means mentioned above, nothing can compete with a high level of awareness on our part. Paying attention to the tiniest details and changes in our horse’s attitude, behavior, movement and performance can help us detect small problems before they become much larger, and sometimes even irreversible.
On the other hand, while we don’t want to become hypochondriacs, or worry incessantly, when we educate ourselves on what to look for, and understand which problems are worthy of concern, AND know our horse’s like the back of our hand, not only do we set ourselves up to save time and expense (as well as our horse’s discomfort), but we also set ourselves up to potentially prevent physical problems from sidetracking us completely.
In today’s post, the top 15 not only share their advice for keeping an equine champion healthy on the road, but also tips for developing one to begin with – valuable information we can ALL take with us, as we step forward into a new year and use their shining example as fuel for our own barrel racing fire!
Read more… »
In my book, and in the official record books, the 2013 National Finals Rodeo barrel racing proved to be a year like no other.
Not only did Taylor Jacob shatter the arena record by nearly a tenth, but Sherry Cervi captured some records of her own with earnings totaling $303,317 for the year, the fastest combined time (138.15 seconds) over ten rounds, as well as an average win, and ultimately, a fourth world title.
I’m know I’m not the only one who especially enjoys the NFR opening ceremonies and grand entry.
However, thanks in large part to modern technology, hardworking people behind the scenes, and the top 15 themselves, we were ALL given an up close and personal look into the lives and times of the rodeo’s leading ladies – which was a BIG PART of what made the barrel racing so exciting and inspirational.
In today’s post, we take a look back at 2013 as the top 15 share their most memorable learning experiences and achievements. This insider’s view provides an opportunity to not only learn, but also be even more inspired by the human and equine athletes alike.
Here at BarrelRacingTips.com, we extend a HUGE heartfelt “THANK YOU” to the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, and to the ladies listed below not only for making professional barrel racing possible, and even more fun and exciting to watch, but for planting seeds of desire in us all to take our own barrel racing to new heights in 2014, and beyond.
Read more… »