In It for the Long Haul – Advice from Your Future Self on Keeping Barrel Horses Sound, Healthy & Happy

In It for the Long Haul – Advice from Your Future Self on Keeping Barrel Horses Sound, Healthy & Happy

Lately we’ve been exploring the ways it’s quite possible to restore health and soundness even in performance horses with existing pathologies.

If I could give you one piece of advice tough, it would be this – be as pro-active as you can about preventing them to begin with.

Today I’m happy to share a number of tips for doing just that.

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How to Improve Your Barrel Horse’s Topline, Stride AND Times!

How to Improve Your Barrel Horse's Topline AND Times!

I’m not the only one with a passion for horsemanship, horse health and barrel racing! Today’s article is a very special guest post from Kathleen Rossi of Integrated Equine.

The truth is, we won’t get very far running barrels if our ability to develop our horse’s mental AND physical foundations is not up to SPEED.

The valuable tips Kathleen has shared below will certainly help you get there faster!


What do you think is one of the best components that would assist in giving your barrel horse the edge on your competition?

A lighter saddle? More training? How about a longer stride?

For me, I didn’t originally have an idea of what components were important in a barrel racing run aside from keeping the cans UP, and staying ON! But after a lot of heartbreak and even more research I have discovered a tool that has helped me shave SECONDS off my time and bump me up to the next “D.”

This secret ingredient is relevant to improving your horse’s topline and freeing up their stride.

We all know that it takes many pieces to get a race horse to really fire; perhaps one of the most important is getting them to use their long legs to their advantage.

So how do we get our horse to hit their stride and start covering some ground?

THREE easy steps.

How to Restore and Maintain Soundness with Quality Movement and Healthy Biomechanics

How to Restore and Maintain Soundness with Quality Movement and Healthy Biomechanics

If you’ve ever experienced the heartbreak of nursing a barrel horse through a potentially career-ending injury, you’re probably extra motivated to do everything possible to prevent it from happening again!

While there are legitimately things we cannot control in life, there are many more things we CAN control that we don’t even realize.

Did you know for example, that many people mistake posture for conformation? Or did you know that your horse’s “style” on the pattern can actually be changed?

While genetics certainly DO play a big part in how our horses look and move, the WAY in which we ask our horses to arrange their bodies (and the reward they receive for doing so) can be literally life-changing.

Developing healthy movement patterns not only has the power to change a horse’s seemingly innate “style,” it can also completely change a horse’s physique.

While it’s easy to consider the way a horse looks or moves as “just the way he is,” the truth is that we have a TON of influence over how our horses use their mind and body – anyone that tells you otherwise, probably doesn’t yet know HOW!

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When Bad Things Happen to Good Horses – Beating the Odds After Injury & Illness

When Bad Things Happen to Good Barrel Horses – Beating the Odds After Injury & Illness

Below I’ve shared inspiring personal stories submitted from members of the community whose horses have experienced major physical setbacks, and eventually BIG TIME comebacks!

Although space didn’t allow for me to publish every one of the stories submitted, I’m deeply grateful for all the wonderful submissions and invite YOU to share your story in the comments below!


I bought a mare three years ago broodmare sound. When I met her something kept tugging at me. I needed to figure out a way to get her back into the arena. She foaled the next spring and I started digging deeper into her issues. She had several scars on her legs and a previous major injury on a hind leg. She had trouble keeping weight and despite all our efforts, looked terrible all the time. I went to vets, naturopaths and acupuncturists. My naturopath/acupuncturist came to the conclusion that the mare has a compromised immune system. Anything chemical makes her SICK. Read more… »

Six Steps to Seek and Secure Sponsorship for Barrel Racing

Six Steps to Seek and Secure Sponsorship for Barrel Racing

Whether you’re ready to seek sponsorship to help support your barrel racing habit ASAP, OR if you just want to learn more about the process for future reference, there’s an important First Step that applies either way.

That is to take a look at your mental programming surrounding the IDEA of pursuing sponsorship.

You’re likely to fall somewhere in the middle of two camps.

Either you…

A. Think sponsorship is only for pros, and would never dream of seeking sponsors until you’re winning pro rodeos. You’re a realist, you’re independent, you work hard, you’re not looking for handouts. You don’t mind earning your way to the top, even if it means doing it alone. You’re confident and want to advance your barrel racing career, but deep down you might be a little hesitant to take the leap.


B. Don’t have a lot of experience with barrel racing, but you have a lot of enthusiasm! And although you don’t have a history of high placings, wins or countless hours in the saddle, and can’t offer anything yet in return for sponsorship, you feel as though you deserve sponsorship because of what you know you can win in the future with the right kind of support.

Which one of these examples do you fall toward?

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Budgeting for Barrel Racers – Plan Now, Celebrate Later!

Budgeting for Barrel Racers - Plan Now, Celebrate Later!

For some, money is an taboo topic you just don’t talk about.

But barrel racers know it can make or break you.

What’s not shared, can’t help others. Silence keeps us stuck.

So for the greater good, let’s just dive in and put it all on the table, shall we?

When I think of the most important piece of advice I could offer someone for funding their barrel racing dreams, or just adequately preparing for the next season, it’s this: No matter how enthusiastic, obsessed or legitimately talented or skilled you OR your horses are - DO NOT SPEND MONEY YOU DO NOT HAVE.

My husband once had a roping partner who would hock one of his saddles at a pawn shop on the way to the rodeo so he could afford to enter, then buy it back on the way home with his winnings. As funny as this is looking back, I don’t recommend it!

Much like the first steps for creating sanity-saving and goal-reaching SYSTEMS to make the most of our time, we also need to start in this area with a reality check. After all, you can’t manage time OR money well, that you don’t have.

Now I totally support the notion of “dreaming the impossible dream,” and making it come true, but let’s NOT be tempted to put the cart before the horse.

Barrel racing is a gamble, the competition is tough and the odds aren’t usually in our favor.

If you LOVE running barrels, and if you’re serious about running barrels and competing at a high level, then there’s some leg work to do. Read more… »

More Than Just Dreams – SYSTEMS for Achieving Your Barrel Racing Goals

More Than Just Dreams – SYSTEMS for Achieving Your Barrel Racing Goals

I came across this quote the other day from Jim Rohn…

“I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacations with better care than they plan their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change.”

It IS easy, isn’t?

To just keep doing what we’re doing, all without getting 100% clear on where we’re going, what we need to DO and who we need to BE to get there.

Change is hard. But what’s harder in the long run is not growing, not progressing and rising to meet your potential, and that of your horse’s.

Which is why we all must get in the habit of being very intentional and purposeful when it comes to being who we were put on this Earth to be.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin

With the help of structural support systems, we can stay focused and avoid the painful roller coaster of frustration or regret.

Instead, I encourage you to use the tips and ideas I’ve shared in the video below as guidance and inspiration to create your own “systems” for getting and STAYING on the fast track to BIG TIME barrel racing success!

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How to Bust Through Barriers: The REAL Reasons Barrel Racers Stay Stuck

Busting Through Barriers: The REAL Reasons Barrel Racers Stay Stuck

I’m on a mission to seek and destroy!

Specifically the roadblocks that are holding YOU back from achieving the barrel racing success you so deeply desire.

Now let me begin by assuring you that I’m ALL for focusing on the positive, accentuating what’s going well, and for polishing up you and your horse’s pre-existing talents and skills.

But I’m also a realist.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward

I don’t want you keep riding around the arena without a realistic understanding of WHY you’re not clocking, and specifically what you need to DO to change that.

That’s why as I get started on my NEW Pro Membership series this month, I want to be brutally honest with you.

A friend told me the other day that she appreciated my “No BS way of getting stuff done.”

Isn’t that nice?

Get REAL about your barrel racing dreams!
Get REAL about your barrel racing dreams!

I had to laugh, because while due to my overwhelming enthusiasm and purposeful positivity I can come across as almost Pollyannish, at the same time my feet are always touching the hard ground of reality.

So in a realistic spirit, today I’ll be sharing FOUR of the most common, but lesser-known reasons barrel racers get off track – so you can avoid (or correct) them!

The first is poorly developed, OR the complete absence of structural systems of support.

Without well developed support systems, barrel racers may lack the clarity, focus, drive & determination it takes to be competitive.

The truth is, that while some of what it takes to be awesome at running barrels IS hard, I’d venture to say that most of the work it requires is not necessarily hard, but does require a high degree of commitment and consistency.

So often, even where there is inspiration and good intentions, there lacks follow through. Ever wonder WHY this is? What’s really underneath a seeming lack of discipline?

One issue I’m aware of, is that some individuals just aren’t wired innately to be super hard driving achievement junkies. People like my husband Craig (bless his heart) are “free spirits” whose thoughts and actions seem to blow around with the changing wind.

Don't let distraction destroy you.

He likes visiting with the neighbors, he’s good at “stopping to smell the roses.” He sometimes starts projects without finishing them and gets easily side tracked. While being “IN the moment” is a great thing, getting lost in it can distract Craig from his goals and long term vision.

They say that nature is always trying to balance itself out and that opposites attract, which I’m sure is why we ended up together!

While it’s hard for him to finish things, it’s hard for me not to. My social life leaves a lot to be desired because I’m so ultra-focused on my horses, my projects, my goals, etc. As much as I love food, I have to set alarms on my phone to remind myself to eat lunch.

I know what I want, so I make plans and impeccably follow through with them – sometimes to the point of exhaustion or sacrificing other areas of my life due to my intense tunnel vision.

Obviously, Craig and I are both very different. Even though I happen to LOVE organization, planning, checklists and systems, and he despises them, you can see that we BOTH need them to stay on track.

If Craig doesn’t have a plan and a system to remind him to follow through, he’ll forget and lose focus. If I don’t have a plan and a system, I’ll get so focused on certain details, that I’ll neglect others.

Due to his innate personality characteristics, Craig brings positive qualities to the arena that I don’t – ones that I have to intentionally develop as skills, and vice versa.

What I’m getting to is that one REAL reason people “seem” to lack clarity, focus, drive and determination is because they simply lack specific, measurable, actionable goals AND the structured support systems and positive reminders necessary to follow them to fruition.

Neither of us are right or wrong, we both need some form of structure and support, but for different reasons. No matter what your personality style is, the odds for staying on a constant upward spiral to barrel racing success is more likely if you do too!

There’s a second BIG reason why I believe we get motivated and then our internal sparks slowly die down into smoldering embers where flames once existed.

Which is that we may have weak areas in our physical, mental or emotional foundations.

You’ll notice that I haven’t even begun to talk about what we do with our horses in the arena. That’s because there’s a lot of inner work that must be done before our outer work even has a chance to create the positive results we’re after.

The inner issues aren’t always the most obvious, which is why I feel it’s important to call attention to them.

Often our motivation and consistency seems to ebb and flow because we’re simply not intentional enough about getting UP and staying UP!

When I say UP, I mean at our best – on ALL levels.

The quality of what you put out matches the quality of what you take in. This means your thinking, your words, the company you keep, the foods you eat, the music you listen to, the ways in which you spend your time, etc.

Do YOU have habits established for how you live your life that help you to FEEL GOOD about yourself and your life – across the board?

This Reserve World Champion uses SYSTEMS to stay focused & reach his goals.
This Reserve World Champion uses SYSTEMS to stay focused & reach his goals.

Because, when you FEEL GOOD – you’ll DO GOOD!

Having mental and physical energy and a positive attitude doesn’t just happen to people who are “lucky.” Reading a couple personal development books per year won’t get you UP and keep you there, just like a two month gym membership won’t build strength and maintain fitness.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

This is something we ALL have to be conscious of and purposeful about every single day – always keeping our antenna up for perceiving how what we do and say affects who we are, how we FEEL, how we show up in the world, and how we clock in a run.

So often people point to the horse or the ground conditions – they’ll pick things apart and find fault in ALL the typical places, but end up totally blind to the fact that they’re losing every day in a million little ways before they ever show up to the barrel race.

Winners possess a heightened degree self-awareness for recognizing what’s holding them back, and a willingness to release what doesn’t work.

My point here is that it’s critical to take intentional action every day to be at your best rather than resorting to auto-pilot. At the same time, if you’re truly holding up your part of the deal and still not feeling and doing great – with as much tenacity as you can muster, keep searching, keep asking questions, keep digging until you find answers.

The same goes for our horses. We can’t bring out their greatest potential if we just “let” things happen – we must intentionally cause and allow instead (there’s a difference).

Be purposeful about doing the work, and when a roadblock appears – be honest, be brave, dig deeper, face the fear, and seek the truth at it’s source to dissolve that barrier.

“Resistance finders are in search of the truth. Resistance avoiders don’t want to know.” – Craig Johnson

Lastly, I’m going to dive into a third of four all too common roadblocks, which is poor management OF, and a poor relationship TO time.

TIME can be a particularly challenging area, and if you’re anything like me you’ve engaged in a fair amount of brutal mental wrestling matches surrounding the frustrating belief that “there’s never enough!”

But we ALL have the same 24 hours in a day. And while we don’t all have equal talent and resources, etc. I know of plenty of people who have been able to utilize their time well, even without these things only to reach higher levels of success much quicker than those who do.

When we finally get to the point where we’re ready to give up the fight for “time” and claim NO CONTEST, we realize that there was really nothing to fight over.

We accept that being a champion at anything can take YEARS, and while an inner knowing that our days and years ARE numbered (which should create some sense of urgency), we also realize that cramming too much into each day, and the negative emotions that result when we do, is NOT the fastest way to help our barrel racing dreams materialize.

When we’re motivated to achieve success for the right reasons, we come to terms with the fact that our dreams may not happen today or tomorrow, but will happen IF we stick to the course day by day.

There’s a great deal of contentment in that.

“The value of anything can be determined by how much of your time you are willing to trade for it.” – Brian Tracy

What you resist, persists. When you’re unaccepting of the “lack of time” you seem to have, somehow you’ll end up with even less of it. When you keep fretting over it, saying out loud or to yourself, “I don’t have TIME!” you only invest even more in the frustrating cycle rather than seeking real solutions.

Time, like money, isn’t good or bad – it’s what we make of it. And our feelings toward it, especially a fear of lack, will certainly effect how much we enjoy, or don’t enjoy.

Instead release, prioritize, streamline, and be realistic about what it’s going to take to get to where you want to go and commit to honoring your dreams by making the time they’ll require a top priority rather than an afterthought, or dedicating only whatever time is left over in what is most likely an already over-booked schedule.

Your dreams deserve more than leftovers!

While it’s true that you can’t always do everything, you can always do something.

Put in the time, use it to the best of your ability, drop what’s not important, and the results will come.

Winning happens long before you load up for the barrel race.
Winning happens long before you load up for the barrel race.

Not necessarily in your time, but in the right time. There’s peace in that, and a peaceful, unrushed heart and mind is so much more able to effectively connect and communicate with horses – and those little, seemingly insignificant everyday wins are what REALLY add up in the long run.

Next week, I’ll be sharing a special Pro Members-only video post with more specifics about the type of baseline we all need to establish in preparation for making the next barrel racing season the best one ever!

I’d love for you to join me as we prepare this foundation, and in next week’s video I’ll be sharing with you the personal details that have and will continue to make my own success, and yours possible.

Later this month you can also look forward to much more content specifically dedicated to the FOURTH barrier – which is poor management OF, and relationship TO MONEY!

Financial limitations is such a big one, and so seldomly addressed that I’ll be specifically focusing on funding your barrel racing dreams over the course of two full posts!

In closing, to summarize today’s article, keep these four tips in mind for dissolving barrel racing barriers:

  • Create a structural system of support – a plan & reminders to keep you on track.
  • Develop a strong physical, mental and emotional foundation. FEEL GOOD = DO GOOD!
  • Invest in good management of, and the relationship you have to TIME, and…
  • MONEY (more on that soon in the new Pro Membership)!

Remember, the first step toward positive change is awareness – what are the barriers holding YOU back from achieving your barrel racing goals?

What inner AND outer work will you start doing to dissolve them going forward? Let me know in the comments below!

For even more resources relating to today’s post, you’ll also enjoy: