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Teachings from Tess – Eleven Life Lessons from My Best Four-Legged Friend

When I first got my Australian Shepherd Tess in 2002, I spent a ton of time teaching her things.
 
I read books about clicker training, we went to obedience class and she even passed special testing to become a Certified Therapy Dog.  

We did agility together, worked stock, and a good friend of mine (an expert dog handler) even showed Tess – bringing home many ribbons and prizes.  

It seemed to take Tess FOREVER to learn to balance on her hind legs for “trick dog” (sitting up) but learning “stay” (with a hand signal) was sooooo easy – I swear she could read my mind. 

Perhaps my favorite and her most unique trick, was to retrieve a Kleenex from a box when I sneezed – it was always a hit!  

You might also remember this special Holiday video from a few years back showing Tess doin’ a little groundwork with my gelding Pistol.

On Christmas morning she eagerly sat by Craig and I around the tree as usual, politely but anxiously waiting her turn to open presents. When given the OK, she always tore the wrapping paper off herself! 

Educating Tess and teaching her tricks was always fun and entertaining, and helped her become a well-adjusted canine citizen, but just like a really special horse – they end up teaching US so much more.  Read more… »

Making it BIG in Vegas – with NFR Barrel Racing Rookie, Cayla Melby Small

2016 NFR Barrel Racer Cayla Melby Small
Cayla and Gator pictured after their win in Innisfail, Alberta.

Cayla Melby Small may be an NFR Rookie, and the 2016 WPRA Rookie of the year, but she’s no newbie to barrel racing. As the daughter of 2-time NFR Qualifier Jane Melby, Cayla has been in the saddle competing with the goal to make the NFR at age 18 since she was just a toddler.

Rodeo is a family affair for Team Melby, and the family just got bigger when Cayla married Zac Small this October, who is also a 2016 NFR first timer on the heading side in the team roping (check out hashtag #TwoSmallsGoingBiginVegas). The insights Cayla shared below about her horses, her season, favorite products and more give us a fun sneak peek into the life and times of a “rookie” professional on rodeo road!
Read more… »

Tips for Going Pro (and More) with NFR Barrel Racer, Carley Richardson

NFR Barrel Racer Carley Richardson

Even if 80’s metal isn’t your favorite genre of music, and the band name ‘Autograph’ doesn’t ring a bell, you’re still likely to be familiar with the line, “Turn up the RADIO” that also bears the song’s namesake (click here to jog your memory.)

Judging by the lyrics, the rock ‘n roll lifestyle doesn’t seem so far off that of an NFR barrel racer: Read more… »

Fifteen Questions with No. 15 NFR Barrel Racer – Amberleigh Moore

She may have qualified in the fifteenth spot, but even as an NFR Rookie Amber Moore has every reason to be confident. Below she’s shared insights from her amazing 2016 season and offered valuable advice for those of us who’d love to follow in her boots as an NFR barrel racing qualifier! Read more… »

Viva Las Vegas! Meet the 2016 Top 15 NFR Barrel Racers

2016 NFR Barrel Racers

The top 15 WPRA barrel racing qualifiers have arrived in Las Vegas, and will soon be blasting down the alley at the Thomas & Mack. In anticipation of the rodeo action, I’m excited to share their reflection on at the 2016 season, and what we can expect to see in this years race to the gold buckle.

So before the gates open, let’s dive in and get to know these these amazing women and their horses (including pedigrees) who will entertain, educate and inspire us – at the 2016 NFR and beyond! Read more… »

What Every Aspiring NFR Barrel Racer Should Know – with 2016 PRCA Veterinarian of the Year, Dr. Marty Tanner

What Every Aspiring NFR Barrel Racer Should Know - with 2016 PRCA Veterinarian of the Year, Dr. Marty Tanner

After making the cross country move from northern Wyoming to central Texas in 2013, I had several quality options when it came to selecting a primary veterinarian in our area that would oversee our horse’s care.

I was familiar with Dr. Marty Tanner and knew he was the vet. of choice for several NFR barrel racers. As someone with BIG barrel racing goals, it didn’t take long to decide and get established with him and the team at Elgin Veterinary Hospital in Elgin, Texas.

Recently Dr. Tanner was named the 2016 Zoetis PRCA Veterinarian of the Year in recognition of his extraordinary dedication, commitment and service to the well-being of professional rodeo livestock.

Dot Com, Heather and Dr. Tanner
Dot Com, Heather and Dr. Tanner

An article by Matt Naber in the ProRodeo Sports News quoted PRCA World Champion Tie Down Roper Monty Lewis as saying, “He is one of the best performance horse veterinarians in North America, and we are very blessed that he gives the rodeo community so much attention. With his renowned facility and his progressive and innovative approach, he is very deserving of the ultimate recognition. The world standings are filled with competitors who owe a large portion of their success to him.”

I couldn’t agree more, which is why I am grateful to Dr. Tanner for lending his wisdom and experience in an interview I’m excited to share below that offers valuable horse health insights (and more) for equestrians in any discipline who want to deliver the very best care possible to their equine athletes. Read more… »

Good Vibrations – Why the EquiVibe Plate is so Beneficial for Barrel Horses

Good Vibrations - Why the EquiVibe Plate is so Beneficial for Barrel Horses

by Kathleen Rossi of Integrated Equine

Flipping through the pages of any equine catalog, you’ll notice a plethora of therapy products.

Liniments, wraps, boots, magnets, supplements, massagers, fairy dust, ice packs and hollow promises all suggesting THEIR product will help your performance horse.

How are you to chose: Brand endorsement? Color assortment? Newly improved? Horse-approved? It’s tiring to say the least. I know at one time or another I’ve found myself sarcastically asking, “which product should I waste my money on today?” I bet you can relate!

The EquiVibe plate however, stands alone. It’s a low profile platform run by electricity that vibrates at different speeds. When a horse stands on this platform he receives benefit from the vibration – stimulating bones, muscles and nerves, thus supporting performance, rehabilitation and helping to prevent injury.

My personal mission statement at IntegratedEquine.net is:
To teach relationship building between horse and human and to develop an intimate understanding of horse psychology and physiology through progressive horse keeping.

The reason I am passionate about sharing the benefits of EquiVibe whole body vibration specifically, is because it’s been a valuable and reliable form of therapeutic support, not only my own horses (and Heather’s), but the world’s most winningest horses, and can be for your equine partners as well! Read more… »

101 Quick Tips to Improve Your Riding on the Barrel Pattern

Quick-Fix Tricks to Improve Your Riding on the Barrel Pattern

In barrel racing, we’re not judged on how well we can “sit pretty.”

But it’s critical that we don’t adopt a clock as clock can attitude, either.

This is because HOW we get across the timer line matters. It matters most, to our horses.

After growing up dabbling in 4-H, I learned that a “good rider” was one who kept their toes in, heels down, seat glued to the saddle, and had straight shoulder/hip/heel alignment.

However, learning to hold a particular posture in the saddle so we LOOK like a good rider is no substitute for actually becoming one.

In fact, if we don’t intentionally learn to “go with the flow” and ride with fluidity (even at speed), no amount of equitation lessons will help us if we don’t also have THE FEEL.

The LOOK alone will never be enough in a sport that requires so much quickness, balance, timing and athleticism from horse and human alike.

Outside of appearances, a lot of us aren’t guiding our horses as effectively as we could – not necessarily because we haven’t yet followed through with that fitness program, or because we’re not athletic enough, but because we’re always, just ever so slightly out of position.

While some of the changes we’re after in our horses and ourselves will require time and commitment, today I wanted to lighten the load a bit and share a LONG list of “quick tips” that have the power to turn a less than stellar run into a winning one, in a literal instant. Read more… »