by Kathleen Rossi of Integrated Equine
Two Truths and a Lie
Do you remember this game from grade school? Find the false statement below as they relate to horsemanship: 1. Horses respond to pressure and release. 2. Tack makes horses to listen to us. 3. Slow and right beats fast and wrong.
Did you find the untruth?
Tack makes horses to listen to us.
The truth is – if we heavily depend on tack to do the talking without in-depth understanding on our end on how to (and how not to) use equipment to advance our horse’s education, we’re in deep trouble… or will be eventually.
We would never just lay a piece of tack on the ground, walk our horse next to it and expect it to bark orders at him, and especially not communicate with timing and feel.
But many use tie downs about as effectively as if they were lying on the ground as an inanimate object. They may serve as a barrier, but if we don’t address the reason why a horse has a tendency to run into or through barriers, then it’s only a superficial and/or temporary solution (among other drawbacks I’ve shared below).
Tack and tools do NOT cause horses to respond to us, but the way we communicate does.
As I was getting warmed up to post this week’s video, I was glad to come across some timeless barrel racing wisdom from Ed Wright.
Recently I witnessed and was especially impressed by one of his students as she won the All American Finals in Waco, TX, and again it confirmed that while competition continues to get tougher as breeding programs, tools and techniques are always evolving – certain principles never change.
One such principle is that bits are secondary to education.
And yet, while education is a critical priority – just because we’ve instilled knowledge in our horse’s mind doesn’t necessarily mean there still aren’t blocks in the way physically and emotionally.
Even if we can influence and yield our horse’s body parts relatively quick and effectively doesn’t mean they feel good about it, that they want to do it, and that they aren’t dealing with physical restrictions that make it difficult for them.
This is why I also love learning about and sharing the importance of horse health, anatomy, therapeutic bodywork and biomechanics, as well as what we as trainers, riders and jockeys can do to actually build desire and try in our horses.
by Kathleen Rossi of Integrated Equine
At the end of the day, if we could ask every barrel racer what they wanted, we’d find they would all respond with the same answer: A healthy horse and compliant competitor! If we dove even deeper into the question, we would find each barrel racer has gone to some extent to keep their horse healthy and competitive.
A wide range of things can be done to achieve this: turnout in the pasture, investing in high quality supplements, devoting time to therapy, etc. But I’ve discovered one fool proof technique that will meet nearly every barrel horse’s standard of care. I’ve found nothing can replace the benefits of this modality, and it’s tangible for any barrel racer – even those on a budget (and don’t nearly ALL of us fall into that category?).
Would you like to be a better barrel horse trainer?
Would you believe many of the same techniques used with horses are also used with dogs, and most other animals?
Of course a few differences and exceptions apply based on the species and individuals we’re working with, but barrel horse training doesn’t have to be the confusing, frustrating grey area we often make it out to be.
Even if you’ve been successful with the methods you apply, a firmer understanding of the techniques you’re using, and even what techniques you’re not – creates opportunity for more clarity and confidence as you develop your horses.
Being a serious student of the horse led me to studying, learning, memorizing, experimenting and experiencing what you could call “Horse Training 101.”
Truthfully, these basics don’t vary too much based on style, preference or what clinician you follow.
What I’ve shared below are the tried and true methods we all use, whether we know it or not – and they’re the exact same methods we can all apply a little differently for even better results!
It’s not so much what we do, but how and when. We’ll be better prepared for the how and when, when we better understand the what! Today I’ve shared all of the above.
If you’re overwhelmed, yet fascinated by terms like operant and classical conditioning, bridge stimulus, or would like to better understand the best ways to use positive and negative reinforcement (you’ll be surprised by this one) to create everything you want in your dream barrel horse – and none of the stuff you don’t want, then join me for this very special article.
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