Eat Like An Athlete (Even On the Road) – Nutrition Tips for Barrel Racers

Eat Like An Athlete (Even On the Road) - Nutrition Tips for Barrel Racers

I’m not the only one with a passion for horsemanship, horse health and barrel racing! Today’s article is another special guest post from someone who knows how to WIN – Kathleen Rossi of Integrated Equine.
Ahhh, the smell of Mexican food after a barrel race! Fewer things are more satisfying. You order with enthusiasm, “Yes please, waiter – I’ll have the steak carnitas and a corona light porfavor!”

Then you pause and think to yourself, “$#!^% my flour tortillas are full of gluten, the beef probably wasn’t grass fed, and the sugar content in the alcohol is sure to be a deadly mix with all the GMO corn ingredients!!!”

Barrel Racing Anxiety

You choke back the tears and instead order, “an ice water with lemon, please”. At least you will be able to squeeze the lemon’s stinging juice in your eyes to numb the pain of a hungry stomach and aching shin from that 3rd barrel.

Eating on the rodeo road or even during a laid back weekend of competition can be tricky, keeping to a certain diet with your own standards in mind can be nearly impossible.

What’s a gal to do?

Well, please don’t be ignorant and don’t squeeze a lemon in your eye either. I have a few ideas for you which will also compliment my fitness Friday posts here. Eating healthy meals is only half the battle! You have to stay fit to function on a high level!

Here are a few facts to help get you started and a few recipes to keep you going.

To gluten or not to gluten… that is the question.
It seems there are two types of people in this world. The “gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free” type and the “I want to swat-those-dairy-fairies-with-my-box-of-cheese-puffs” type. The point is there can be a happy medium in health (in most cases) and we can all be informed and get along.

The quick and dirty about being gluten free and what gluten even is can be summarized in this awesome video. There are two components in gluten that can a). eat away the lining of your guts, and b). triggers an auto immune reaction. Mmmmm! Gluten culprits aren’t always obvious either. “Enriched flour” is a common ingredient (wheat gluten, corn gluten, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed proteins annnnnd about 42 other things that qualify as having gluten in them) in most of our processed foods, bread, and pasta.

For me: I started to put together two and two when I was suffering from migraines, nausea, and aching joints and muscles. Through eliminating gluten for a specific period of time and then re-introducing it again I found that “I’m gluten sensitive,” meaning, as soon as I ate my organic whole wheat pasta I was literally in bed the next day with a debilitating migraine. So it was easy for me to tell what to eat and what to avoid.

What wasn’t easy was actually avoiding it. EVERYTHING and it’s brother has gluten in it. So I had to find some balance. It just wasn’t practical in life or traveling on the road to eat “gluten-free” 100% of the time. The balance that works for me is 80% gluten free 20% gluten. IE: gluten free pizza with a gmo-free beer. Or chili and corn bread. Or gluten free pasta and high quality artisan bakery bread. See where I’m going with this?

A big ‘NO NO’ is: a bread appetizer, pasta entrée, plus a beer. Or carnitas, tamales, and a corona… Cough cough. BUT in the same regard a gluten free cookie isn’t always a better choice than banana bread. Be informed!

Turn N Burn Burger

I’ve whipped up two downloadable, printable recipes for you: “Turn n Burn Burgers” and “No Dust Cookies

Sugar Free Misery
Here are some fun fast facts about the “sugar free” advantage: High fructose corn syrup can contain mercury, artificial sweeteners can be more addictive than crack, sucralose leads way to migraines and diarrhea, saccharin has been correlated with tumors and cancer. The bottom line is that the calories that you ‘cut’ by going “sugar–free” with many artificial sweeteners can literally ‘cut’ into your overall health.

An article by Harvard lists these five FDA approved fake sugars to avoid: saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose. There are a multitude of studies clearly outlining reasons of why these synthetic “sugar free” options are FULL of misery instead of benefits.

If you haven’t already guessed, all of these things can contribute to brain fog instead of mental clarity. And when you play a sport that is 90% mental game, you don’t have a lot of brain power to sacrifice!

For me: I had to give up flavored Coffee Mate creamers in the morning, a Diet Coke at lunch, and sugar free ice cream for dessert. It was tragic but at least I won’t die of a brain tumor to cut 200 calories. Oh and did I mention the headaches are gone too?

Heather's Hustle Home Mocha

Two more recipes for you: “Heather’s Hustle Home Mocha” and the “1D Smoothie

Informed Eating
To sum it all up for you, I’m not a scientist, nutritionist, foodie or personal trainer. I am an “informed, gluten-avoiding, organic” type person here to share with you what’s worked for me.

A healthy lifestyle is paramount to having success in the arena and on the road. If you want to win, part of your winning attitude come from within.

You need to take responsibility for what you are fueling your body with.

When it comes to eating you have an informed choice. I would be a liar if I said Heather didn’t take this pic of me during a stop at In and Out Burger in Las Vegas. But you better believe we were taking our vitamins during our NFR escapades and did a cleanse when we got come.

Try to eat foods without harmful chemicals or fake ingredients. Avoid prepackaged and processed foods whenever possible. Take fresh fruits and veggies on the road with you. Consume protein that will sustain you through the day versus the quick buzz you can get from refined sugars. And if all that is too much… for the love of your liver just invest in a quality multi-vitamin.

Las Vegas In N Out Burger

Eating organic as often as possible will pay off by resulting in landing you in the pay window more often and the doctor’s office less often.

Eating a balanced diet of more slowly metabolizing carbohydrates and sugars versus quicker ones (like bad gluten will tend to do) will keep your blood sugar even keel.

There are plenty of resources via internet, books and counseling available for having informed eating habits instead of dieting fails. So don’t just take my word for it.

We all know the less than “breakfast of champions” worthy choices we’ve made in the past.

And we all know the level we want to be at – drink that 1D Smoothie for breakfast and go be awesome!
Kathleen Rossi is a 2-Star Parelli Professional, Instructor for Photonic Health Institute and founder of

If you enjoyed today’s post, visit her BLOG for related #fitnessfridays posts, which will help you learn little tricks to becoming a fit, healthy rider!

Feed for SPEED – How to Fuel Fast-Twitch Muscles for Faster Times!

Feed for SPEED - How to Fuel Fast-Twitch Muscles for Faster Times!

If you enjoyed last weeks post about feeding based on the Glycemic Index, but immediately thought “Oh that’s all find and dandy, but can a low GI feeding program REALLY fuel a timed-speed event athlete?” then you’re in good company.

I once had the same concerns.

Like you, I don’t just want to run barrels, I want to WIN! Today more than ever, it takes a very special animal to do that consistently – and diet is a HUGE part of that.

There are so many bases to cover and it can be overwhelming to be our horse’s equine nutritionist on top of everything else. It can be especially confusing once you actually start doing your homework and crunching the numbers.

There’s also a lot of misguided, contradictory, and outdated advice and information out there when it comes to fueling the equine athlete.

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How to Use the Glycemic Index to Increase Health and Performance

How to Use the Glycemic Index to Increase Health and Performance

There are many ways in which low glycemic feeds can improve our horse’s health and I’m happy to have guest Mark DePaolo, DVM share how to do that below!


Good nutrition is integral to allowing a performance horse to achieve its highest potential. Thinking about food as energy and how various feeds affect the body is extremely important. Diet actually plays a critical role in many equine health issues such as ulcers, tying up, allergies, laminitis and a compromised immune system.

Complete feeds (commonly referred to as ‘grain’) are often thought to provide everything required by performance horses. Most of these offer the type of quick burning energy you get from a candy sugar high, rather than a steady supply of energy obtained from feeding rice bran, beet pulp, and forages like alfalfa.

The digestive system of the horse is designed to continually ingest fiber and use it as a slow burning form of energy. Unfortunately, many of today’s show horses are being fed a consistent diet of starchy carbohydrates and sugar because it is easy for the owner, rather than nutritious for the horse. Read more… »

Strip Away Constraints to Deepen Communication and Heighten Barrel Racing Success

Strip Away Constraints to Deepen Communication and Heighten Barrel Racing Success

As an introvert, I don’t do small talk very well.

If I can’t “go deep,” I’d rather not go at all – whether in conversations and relationships with people, or the development of my horses.

I crave authentic connection and communication.

Anything done superficially, isn’t worth doing to me. “Go BIG or go home,” I say!

It can be exhausting, of course. Just ask my husband. There I am – always perceiving, soaking and thinking about the deeper meaning behind everything in life.

In a world filled with distractions that so often keep us functioning above the surface, this may be the road less traveled, but really – I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Great minds discuss ideas.

This is because how DEEP you’re willing to go determines how far and how high you’ll go.

The taller a building, the more sturdy the foundation must be. The more tension on an H-brace, the deeper the post holes must be.

Ever wonder why the vertical part of a cross is longer than the horizontal part? Because it must go deep to stand strong.

If you’re serious about achieving big time barrel racing success like I am – you’ve gotta be willing to go deeper than most people go.

In the New Year, I challenge you to go further than you’ve ever gone before. Read more… »

Road to the NFR – More Success Secrets and Statistics from the Top 15

Road to the NFR - More Success Secrets and Statistics from the Top 15

When my husband Craig and I stepped off the jet-bridge from the 757 that took us from Cowboy Town back to Austin after the NFR, our tummies were rumbling. We’d been eating out all week in Vegas and were more than ready for some “clean” food. Nothing at the airport was appealing so we set out to find a semi-healthy meal.

Being that we’re still fairly new to Texas, we don’t exactly know our way around like the back of our hand yet. I have an excellent sense of direction, but my husband is very attached to his trusty ol’ (outdated) GPS. That’s how our little adventure got started.

“Go this way!” “NO it’s left, not right!” “That’s not what it shows on my phone!” We missed our first turn and the goose chase began. About 20 minutes later, we finally arrived at our destination. The atmosphere in the car was dense with frustration, but it wasn’t mine.

The entire situation reminded me of the one the 2014 NFR barrel racers were faced with.

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Success Leaves Clues – Lessons from a Day with Mary Walker and Latte

Success Leaves Clues – Lessons from a Day with Mary Walker and Latte

Mary Walker is a world-class lady who has “been there and done that.”

And not just because she’s 55 years old or a World Champion.

Of course I have a great deal of respect for her as barrel racer, but even more because of the trials she’s overcome.

If you watch the top 15 walk across the stage to receive their back numbers, and look close – you’ll see what I saw in Mary.

A sense of contentedness in her own skin – sheer presence, joy, humble confidence and sincerity. Read more… »

Patterns for Precision – Follow the Path to Greater Accuracy and SPEED!

Patterns for Precision – Follow the Path to Greater Accuracy and SPEED!

Whether you call them patterns, exercises, or drills, there’s no denying they’re an important part of any barrel racers program.

And it’s no wonder – high degrees of speed and precision are required to beat the clock, and our horses must not only understand their responsibilities for staying on track around the barrels, but also use their bodies in specific ways that put the odds most in our favor for efficiency and speed.

In The First 51 Barrel Racing Exercises to Develop a Champion, I went into great depth explaining the power of patterns and WHY they are so important based on how our horse’s minds are wired.

I also included the specific ways we can use patterns to achieve even more positive results. The truth is, we can perform drills until we (and our horses) are blue in the face, but if we don’t use psychology as we apply them, we won’t get nearly as far.

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Cream of the Crop – Meet and Learn From the 2014 Top 15 NFR Barrel Racers

Cream of the Crop - Meet and Learn from the 2014 Top 15 NFR Barrel Racers

They’re not just good, or even great.

The field of 15 barrel racers that will grace the tunnel of the Thomas & Mack with their beauty and horsepower as they run toward $796,875 in prize money this year, are quite simply in a class by themselves.

Also known in french as crème de la crème, or cream of the cream, metaphorically the meaning of this phrase is “the best of the best” – much like the richest part of milk that rises to the very top.

As tough and competitive as barrel racing is, there are plenty of barrel racers that try as they might, don’t rise to this level.

If YOUR dream is to be one of professional rodeo’s elite top 15 at the NFR, take note of the deeper meaning behind each reply below, then research and reflect on how to make connections to your own barrel racing program that will ultimately lift YOU up as well! Read more… »