The Pro Membership here at BarrelRacingTips.com made it’s debut in October of 2014. Today’s post is a celebratory look back at an amazing year!
Honoring the commitment to bringing you the very best content meant I didn’t take on any new creative projects in 2015.
In the process I learned even more about the elusive “life balance” (which seems VERY elusive for barrel racers!).
In 2016 I’ll continue developing and competing with our personal horses AND have plans to launch a NEW book in early spring and of course deliver many more valuable, results-generating articles and videos each month.
Speaking of life balance, I’ll be sure to share more tips as I go for how I plan to fit it all in!
Until then to celebrate the Pro Membership’s “Rookie Year,” enjoy a rundown of Pro content from the last twelve months below (click here for additional Pro Member content)!
*The highlighted links represent the TOP THREE most visited posts – in celebration of the Pro Membership’s “birthday,” enjoy limited FREE access to these articles on me!
- More Than Just Dreams – SYSTEMS for Achieving Your Barrel Racing Goals
- Six Steps to Seek and Secure Sponsorship for Barrel Racing
- How to Restore and Maintain Soundness with Healthy Biomechanics
- In It for the Long Haul – How to Keep Barrel Horses Sound, Healthy & Happy
- Patterns for Precision – Follow the Path to Greater Accuracy and SPEED!
- Road to the NFR – More Success Secrets and Statistics from the Top 15
- Feed for SPEED – How to Fuel Fast-Twitch Muscles for Faster Times!
- Free, Easy and FAST – How to Support Joint Health and Function with Nutrition
- Four Steps to Strengthen Your Barrel Racing Foundation with Flying Lead Changes
- The Barrel Racing Backbone – A Checklist for Training an Educated Body & Willing Mind
- Three Steps (and Exercises) to Become a Better Barrel Racing Jockey
- Condition for Quickness – Build Strength & Understanding to Unleash Potential
- Three No-Brainer Components for Successful Barrel Racing Under Pressure
- Unshakable Confidence – DEEP Inner Strength to Achieve HIGH Barrel Racing Goals
- Horsemanship Before Sportsmanship – Eight Priorities that Pay Off
- FAST Times on Purpose – Three Exercises for Testing Precision to Increase Speed
- Enter to WIN: How to Pick and Prepare For Varying Competition Environments
- Hauling Do’s & Don’ts: Avoid the Pitfalls to Arrive (and Stay) at Your Best
- Improve Horse and Human Posture for more Power and Traction on the Pattern
- Start Strong, Finish FAST – Catch the Correct Lead for a Stress-Free Alley Set Up
- Study, Compare and Refine Second Barrel Footfall to Get on the Fast Track!
- How to Evaluate, Find and Enhance Saddle Fit for Fluid, Fast Barrel Racing
- Three Steps to Being Your Own (Part-time) Barrel Horse Bodyworker
- Release, Stretch, Relax, Repeat! Four Steps to Maximize Strength & Lengthen Stride
To get up to speed on future topics, click here to see the latest publication schedule and learn more about ‘Going PRO!’
Thanks for being such an amazing and integral part of the BarrelRacingTips.com community!
In the comments below, let me know what topics you’d like to see covered in upcoming articles and videos?
I have to admit in years past my pre and post-ride support routine was pretty minimal.
If I had time or was feeling inspired I would sometimes stretch before a run and would try to cold hose or apply ice boots on after hard, strenuous work.
I also tried to spend adequate time slowly warming up and cooling down, but we all know how that goes!
The support I provide my horses today is much different. This is for a couple reasons. One is that I know better, and so I DO better. The second is that the middle-aged horses in our pasture right now each have physical issues that require some maintenance.
I’ve worked hard to get them to the state of wellness they enjoy today and so I put a lot of effort toward keeping them there under the stresses of travel and speed work. Had they benefitted from a program like the one I follow now when they were younger, they might not require the level of maintenance they do.
In other words, it’s better to go the extra mile with supporting our horse’s physical well-being by seeming to do even MORE than they require in the present, than risk being forced to in the future… OR have them forced into an early retirement.
In the video below I’ve shared the very in-depth and specific pre-ride and run routine I do on a daily basis to maximize performance AND help prevent soundness or health issues from slowing us down.
I’ve specifically included FOUR reasons why it’s so important to create free, supple and fluid movement, as well as FOUR reasons why barrel horses become physically restricted in their bodies, and most importantly – I’ve demonstrated the FOUR main action steps we can all take to maximize strength, lengthen stride and increase SPEED before every ride – in preparation for FAST competitive runs!
You already know it’s more than a full-time job being a barrel racer – it’s MULTIPLE full-time jobs! Including, but not limited to – stall cleaner, nutritionist, truck driver, scheduler, horse trainer, equine behaviorist, Vet, massage therapist, and the list goes on!
When you’re (understandably) feeling spread thin, it’s hard to find motivation to go deeper in a certain area without risk of neglecting others. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing why it’s so critical that we take our understanding of how our horse’s bodies work, and how we can best support them, to the next level.
Even if we would prefer to leave all the health and therapy mumbo jumbo to the professional equine bodyworkers or Vets, investing in our own education and skills is a great to take what’s good and make it even better.
Below I’ve outlined a critical prerequisite, and included which areas most deserve our time and attention (with links to resources), AND how to fit it all in amongst all the other demands barrel racing requires!
When your run your hands down your horse’s back, does he tighten, flinch, shrink away or spasm?
Is there atrophy behind the withers or depressions where your horse’s shoulders have rotated forward?
Are you dealing with stubborn soreness or lameness issues that seem to need constant management?
Is your horse’s topline less round and full than before – over his neck, back and hindquarters?
Does your horse have a short, choppy, uneven stride or seem irritable, emotional or impulsive?
Are you not quite stopping the clock in competition?
If so, ALL these symptoms can be caused (and resolved) by saddle fit!
Barrel saddle designs have come a long way in recent years, but still many saddle makers aren’t willing to buck tradition.
But today’s competitive environment requires a higher level understanding of form, fit and function to meet the demands of timed speed event horses in motion – allowing them to gather and collect then stride out comfortably, consistently and quickly over the long haul!
Not only that, but barrel racers who have genuine concern for their barrel horses health and well-being want what’s best for their equine partners soundness and longevity.
I’m passionate about both these areas and am glad to have followed an immense learning curve in the last few years
When I got together with a few barrel buddies recently there was a lot of awkward silence, broken up with a few verbal “WOWs.” You could almost hear the wheels turning.
We were measuring and comparing where our horse’s feet travel on the barrel pattern. The uncertainty in the air was palpable, so I reminded these gals (both with 1D horses) that “different” didn’t necessarily mean wrong.
But like me, I knew they were ALSO thinking about how these measurements related to how their horses used themselves in a run. The possibility of taking something good and making it much better was exciting!
I thought back to times I had ridden with Charmayne James, who teaches students to travel the same distance around the turns, or Lisa Lockhart who advises folks to follow a path that is widest (approximately 5-7 ft.) at the start of the turn, that gradually decreases on the back side and is narrowest at the finish (approximately 1-3 ft.), then there’s Lynn McKenzie who teaches a straighter longer approach, which includes more room on the back side of the barrels.
I was also reminded of two horsemanship clinicians who taught the same program fundamentals, but one prefers to swing the shoulders to prepare a horse to perform a flying lead change, whereas the other preferred to move the hips over.
The same idea could apply to each barrel racer’s preference when it comes to pre-turn positioning – do YOU push the hips in, or lift the shoulders up… both, or neither? It’s not that one way is right or wrong, and to a degree they each accomplish similar goals.
They key I believe, is to “Be firm on principle but flexible on method.” – Zig Ziglar
Remember also that if something works for one person and not for another, it’s often due to how the technique was applied, OR even the makeup of the raw material they had to start with (the horse’s foundational understandings). I encourage you to always go deeper before writing something off as “not working!”
When we took a stroll through the pattern, first on Lucky then on Kat with each rider placing the horse where we felt they should be. This is what we found at the second barrel:
The degree of responsiveness we NEED at the gate is NOT conditional – it HAS to hold up in any and all circumstances, even (and especially) when energy and adrenaline is high.
For some it’s not quite responsiveness that’s a problem, but the horse’s emotional stability. Ever catch yourself tip toeing around ever so subtly as you ask your horse to get in position because he’s SO reactive at the gate that he’s borderline unpredictable?
If that’s the case it’s a different kind of problem, yet it also needs to be addressed before we can truly be set up for a successful run in the alley.
I addressed both these issues and more in today’s NEW Pro Members video post.
by Kathleen Rossi of Integrated Equine
Are you a winner or a whiner?
In order to play physically, we’ve got to be on our mental game!
It’s just three barrels. How hard could it be, right?
Literally stationary objects on the same pattern in each arena, on a relatively flat surface, with a timer as the judge. Yet, we can still freeze up? HOW!?
We barrel racers know the struggle is real. Alley drama, blanking out during a run, and busted confidence on a sloppy pattern can ruin our week. Well, I say: no more! No more showing up unprepared, no more weak mental game, and no more self-esteem problems related to tipped barrels.
Below I’ve visited advice from three decorated equine professionals with some of the best insights for keeping your arena game strong, as well as offered some of my own tips for keeping the cans and your confidence UP. Read more… »
The other day I was reading about some of the conditioning programs of top barrel racers, as well as reflecting back on my notes with suggestions from some veterans. They each talked about how many miles they go or minutes they spend at the walk, trot, then lope, etc. in each workout.
While it’s good to monitor this and have systems for keeping us on track, if we just trot and lope around without much focus on HOW our horse’s are moving and HOW we can help them move more correctly, when the time comes to enter up we might be leaving money on the table, or worse yet leaving our faces in the dirt. When a horse takes a digger, while it may also be a legitimate case of the ground not being prepared properly, more often than not it’s that the horse hasn’t been prepared properly.
Of course movement alone CAN condition a horse, but if you’re developing a horse for a specific event, with specific challenges (like less than ideal ground conditions) then it requires a more specific program. If your horse has certain tendencies, whether related to how he’s put together, or how he’s been trained and ridden, or even damaged and injured in the past, all this requires that we adjust our program based on our horse’s individual needs, AND make sure it’s in alignment with our goals and supportive of our horse’s long term well-being.