How to Use the Glycemic Index to Increase Health and Performance

How to Use the Glycemic Index to Increase Health and Performance

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #2 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
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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!

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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

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! Read more

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 BarrelRacingTips.com community whose horses have experienced major physical setbacks, and eventually BIG TIME comebacks!

If you’re needing support through a challenging time with your horse,
click here to open and save a Prayer and Collection of Bible Verses for Healing.

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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 Reasons Why Natural Hoof Care (AND Shoeing) Doesn’t Work

Six Reasons Why Natural Hoof Care (AND Shoeing) Doesn't Work

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #7 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Play.


In today’s article, I’ll be sharing my two cents on what has become somewhat of a controversial issue in the barrel horse and performance world. Before I begin, I’ll say that it’s not my goal to specifically determine what’s best for you and your horses but to share what I’ve learned as licensed Vet. Tech., a long time barrel racer, and a natural trimmer for 12+ years.

My education in this area began at a young age. Barefoot horses suited my needs as a youngster, and with corrective trimming even my foundered rescue pony was brought back to complete health.

Taking matters into my own hands
Taking matters into my own hands

Many years later when my horses were shod (mainly for protection from rocky trails in the Big Horn Mountains), soundness issues started coming up. This also happened to be when the natural hoof care movement was gaining steam. After quite a bit of research backed by my already existing education, I decided to be my horse’s advocate, and took matters (and a rasp) into my own hands.

I restored my horses to soundness and continued to learn, trim and compete barefoot for many years with great success. I appreciated how effective natural hoof care was for completely eliminating cracks, chips, flares, and for supporting and maintaining truly healthy feet from the inside out.
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A Saddle Fitting Adventure with NFR Barrel Racer, Tana Poppino

*For my most recent insights on saddle fit, check out
How to Evaluate, Find and Enhance Saddle Fit for Faster Barrel Racing.

When it comes to saddle fit, the journey that led me to the level of understanding (and my horse’s level of comfort) that we currently enjoy started nearly two years ago. In this article, I’ll be sharing what I learned so that you and your horses can benefit as well.

For many years, I had been riding in a high quality and comfortable (for me) barrel saddle. I bought it slightly used and remember when I first swung it on my horses back without a pad – it fit like a glove. A match made in heaven, or so it seemed.

Heather, Pistol and NFR Barrel Racer, Tana Poppino
Heather, Pistol and NFR Barrel Racer, Tana Poppino

Slowly over time, I noticed that the area behind my horse’s withers started to atrophy. You’ve probably also noticed these “dips” that occur in the area behind the shoulders. However, because it’s so common, you (like me) probably thought nothing of it. Tana Poppino didn’t think much about her grey gelding, Goose’s prominent withers either, until she joined forces with Martin Saddlery.

This slow change in my horse’s topline, combined with some insight from my amazing equine bodyworker, suggested that there could be a saddle fit issue. She often found subtle but repetitive tenderness and “stuck” areas while working on my gelding.

Once I realized there was an issue, it sparked some intense study on the subject of saddle fit which also resulted in numerous consultations with a variety of professionals. During this time, I stumbled upon research done by Martin Saddlery – it was clear they’d been doing their homework. Connecting with Martin led my gelding and I to personally consult with NFR barrel racer Tana Poppino. With her help and many months of trial, error and insight, I came to some interesting conclusions. Conclusions that have not only helped me SEE, but FEEL a difference in my horses, and ensure they can compete to their fullest potential – without discomfort, pain and restricted movement.
Read more

Seven Tips to Solve Gate Problems for Good

Seven Tips to Solve Gate Problems for Good

To introduce this week’s Q&A video, I’ll start with a metaphor… let’s say you experience headaches often, that were actually caused by a serious (but unknown to you) health condition. If you were able to completely resolve the symptoms by taking pain relievers, you might think “problem solved!”

That is, until some time down the road, when the headaches continue, or become more frequent, and you start having stomach problems from the pain relievers, or the actual underlying condition causing the headaches gets worse and starts to wreck havoc on the rest of your body and your health.

The same goes for gate issues they are a symptom of a deeper problem.

Those deeper problems can be difficult to recognize. Just because we can get our horse in the gate, doesn’t mean the underlying issue they resisted is resolved, or that the symptom (your horse being unwilling to go in the gate) may not occur again, get worse, or that the underlying problem will eventually cause issues in other areas as well.

What is Your Horse Thinking at the Gate?
What is Your Horse Thinking at the Gate?

I feel as though there are three main causes of gate problems.

The first is physical. When a horse becomes unwilling to go in the gate, there’s a good possibility he’s hurting some where. If you had a close up video or photographs of the positions your horse’s body has to contort in as they round the pattern, it would really open your eyes to just how much physical stress they go through.

The second is an emotional issue. This is a more common occurrence in horses that by nature are more insecure and nervous. They are the HOT, sensitive horses that if we don’t do our part to meet their needs, will struggle to hold up under the mental pressure involved in such an intense, high speed event. I think of these horses as having a bad case of “stage fright.” They most likely want to please, but their reaction in the alley is akin to a human having an anxiety attack.

Read more

Barefoot Trim for Barrel Racing?

Barefoot Trim for Barrel Racing?

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #7 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Play.


by Kim Kizzier, LMT, CMT

It seems like everything is going ‘natural’ these days. We are constantly looking for natural solutions, practices, and products that can help us and our horses to stay healthy, happy and environmentally responsible.  With the natural horsemanship trends, it only makes sense that natural hoof care would go hand-in-hand.

The ‘Natural Barefoot Trim’ and the theories surrounding it offer fairly new concepts to what we’ve learned as ‘normal’ over the past 1,000 years, yet it appears to be taking the horse world by storm. This trim, including the idea of pulling shoes and going barefoot is frequently looked upon as alternative and is often not yet fully understood within traditional horse and hoof care professions.  Most veterinarians and farriers will admit that horses are healthier if they can be barefoot. The arguing word seems to be “if.” 

Barefoot proponents believe every horse should go barefoot and that with proper trimming, conditioning and support, every horse will develop healthier feet and bodies and perform better barefoot.  Others believe shoes are a necessary evil and point to genetic predisposition to bad feet, hoof pathology, or intense training programs that require more support.

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No More Feeding Mystery – How to Balance Your Barrel Horse’s Diet with Confidence

No More Feeding Mystery - How to Balance Your Barrel Horse's Diet with Confidence

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #2 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Play.


by Carol Layton, B.Sc M.Ed

It is often recommended by vets and nutritionists to feed your horses a balanced diet. A horse needs the right amount of nutrients; carbohydrates, protein and fats, as well as vitamins and minerals for proper digestive function. A balanced diet is essential for optimum performance and in avoiding health issues. Symptoms like a dull coat, poor hoof quality or topline, less than optimal performance and a weak immune system are the more obvious signs. So what is a balanced diet?

Feeding HayA balanced diet is one where all the nutrients are more than adequate to avoid deficiencies and the amount of each of the minerals avoids competition with another. One example is copper and zinc, too much zinc in the diet has been found to interfere with the intake of copper. Another is calcium and phosphorus; too much calcium can interfere with phosphorus and vice versa. There are many other examples.

To determine whether nutrient levels are sufficient and balanced in a horse’s diet, the amounts consumed from forage, feeds and supplements can be compared with the amounts recommended in the Nutrient Requirements of Horses, published in 2007 by the National Research Council (NRC), the reference for equine nutritionists. Providing an insurance buffer by using at least 150% of NRC target minimums and keeping mineral ratios in a tight range will protect the horse from suboptimal intakes of minerals.

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