by Kathleen Rossi of Integrated Equine
Start where you are and finish where you want to be.
What costs nothing, but gives a huge return on effort invested?
What’s accessible to everyone and doable by anyone?
What will benefit your health, your horse, and your riding?
Consistent, intentional movement that gently pushes you outside your comfort zone will expand what you’re capable of as a jockey. And if you secretly know that YOU or your horse is ready to get fast (and stay fast) this post is packed full of practical advice on how to get there.
If you aren’t doing this right, you aren’t doing anything right…
Here’s the thing… I’m just as guilty as anybody. I hunch in front of my phone or computer screen and look for ‘fit-spiration’ on Pinterest while eating left over pizza. If that isn’t an oxymoron I don’t know what is.
But the good news is I’m proof you don’t have to be a complete healthy nut, hemp seed eating freak to win on the barrel pattern. If you simply know how to sit or stand up straight then the odds are in your favor – because most people don’t even realize just how important POSTURE is.
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.
by Kathleen Rossi of Integrated Equine.
Chances are, you are reading this and already own a seasoned barrel horse. So what does it matter if he likes to be haltered or not?
Simply put it: it is a matter of relationship and response. The better your relationship with your horse the better (and quicker) his response will be when running the barrel pattern.
If your horse can yield his thoughts and body when doing the simplest things like haltering, he’s more likely to be supple when you ride as well.
Cheating your horse a course in basic horsemanship just because he is a natural talent is really cheating yourself of the fullness of what you can offer each other. A horse that doesn’t greet you, look at you, or acknowledge you when you approach him, should be the first signs of feedback that your first initial point of contact is broken.
If your spouse greeted you with flowers and a smile every day after work, you would always be happy to see them! The same is true with our horses. Haltering is the first chance we have to make an impression on them, and will help write the intention of the rest of our training session with them.
Haltering is the Gateway Drug…
I’m a starfisher and I’m NOT proud.
You read right. Thanks to the attention this unflattering position has gotten lately, most of us are familiar with the spread eagle, daylighting moments captured on camera in the midst of an intense barrel racing run.
Of course there are the critics saying that it’s an indicator of poor riding, or less than stellar horsemanship, and that it’s damaging to the horse – all of which I can’t say I disagree with.
Then there are the “starfishing proud” folks, making it seem as though it’s a good thing, necessary, cool, or that it’s fun to do it on purpose – as if the more radical, the better!?
I on the other hand, don’t claim either camp, and here’s why…
The TRUTH about high-level barrel racing is that it’s not always going to be perfect and pretty. Some of the best, most competitive horses are not necessarily easy or smooth to ride.
There is SO MUCH to learn from photos, and while they may tell us a lot – they never quite tell the whole story. If we want to get really critical and look at every aspect of a winning run with a microscope, we WILL see at least minute moments of disharmony in what otherwise seems to be a correct and fluid, fast run when viewed with the naked eye as a whole. Read more… »
One of the first memories I have relating to finances was thinking I would never be able to go to college because “we didn’t have the money.”
But that was a lie. Well, part of it…
It’s true that my family didn’t seem to have enough funds to meet even our most basic needs at times when I was growing up. It was the way of thinking I inherited as a youngster (and later changed) that was drastically inaccurate.
I DID go to college and get a degree in Veterinary Technology, albeit on my own dime. Whether I continued to assume that my life was doomed – OR that I could or couldn’t influence my future, was up to me.
Today there are a lot of adults still not living their barrel racing dreams because they have no hope – believing that being a professional barrel racer is only for people with “a lot of money.” Today, let’s blow that false belief outta the water too, shall we?
I won’t argue that making a run for the NFR for example, does indeed require hefty financial backing (see below for actual examples). But if barrel racing professionally is your goal, it’s time to get real and get busy creating the strong financial foundation to support it.
by Kathleen Rossi of Integrated Equine
For some of us, horse care might take on an ancient algorithm.
It seems that one person can glean results from a certain process or product, and the next minute – another lady is suggesting you stay far away from what the first person had success with. Opinions and traditions are enough to make your head spin.
Equine dental care includes a lot of “buzz” when it comes to choosing one method or another. However, there is one scientifically proven way that works for every horse. The crazy thing is that the “buzz” about this procedure has NO buzz at all.
When it comes to improving the health and performance of an equine athlete, considering whether we should implement a detox program is more a matter of HOW and WHEN vs. IF.
Today more than ever, performance horses especially are assaulted with a barrage of toxins from their environment, feed and medications, and it’s no coincidence that Veterinarians are seeing an increase in many disease conditions. Allergies, arthritis, metabolic disorders and even cancer are becoming more common and occurring earlier in age than in years past.
Back in the day, horse care and feeding programs were pretty simple. Old timers might even say that “ol’ Sorrely didn’t need all that stuff.” There could actually be some wisdom and truth in that statement! While the competition today is also tougher than ever – what performance horses didn’t need back then, and don’t need now are toxins that come along with the many tempting well-marketed options for supporting them. As we’ve evolved and our choices have grown, symptoms of the “body burden” our equine partners experience has risen as well.
When a horse’s system is already overwhelmed with toxins, it’s especially important that we know how to read the signs and take appropriate action to avoid a game of “chasing symptoms” which often includes adding even more toxic substances, further exacerbating the problem.
by Kathleen Rossi of Integrated Equine
The cloverleaf pattern is fair, and so is the clock, but life is not.
Watching the barrel racers at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo lends eyes to a lot of observations.
Let’s appreciate and be inspired by where the top 15 came from, where they’re at and where they’re headed – they’ve ALL shown the qualities of a champion!
Here is how you can too. ->