How to Evaluate, Find and Enhance Saddle Fit for Faster Barrel Racing

How to Evaluate, Find and Enhance Saddle Fit for Faster Barrel Racing

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 Read more

Improve Horse and Human Posture for more Power (and Traction) on the Pattern

Improve Horse and Human Posture for more Power on the Pattern

The other day I was reading about some of the conditioning programs of top barrel racers, as well as reflecting back on my notes with suggestions from some veterans. They each talked about how many miles they go or minutes they spend at the walk, trot, then lope, etc. in each workout.

While it’s good to monitor this and have systems for keeping us on track, if we just trot and lope around without much focus on HOW our horse’s are moving and HOW we can help them move more correctly, when the time comes to enter up we might be leaving money on the table, or worse yet leaving our faces in the dirt. When a horse takes a digger, while it may also be a legitimate case of the ground not being prepared properly, more often than not it’s that the horse hasn’t been prepared properly.

Of course movement alone CAN condition a horse, but if you’re developing a horse for a specific event, with specific challenges (like less than ideal ground conditions) then it requires a more specific program. If your horse has certain tendencies, whether related to how he’s put together, or how he’s been trained and ridden, or even damaged and injured in the past, all this requires that we adjust our program based on our horse’s individual needs, AND make sure it’s in alignment with our goals and supportive of our horse’s long term well-being. Read more

Hauling Do’s & Don’ts: Avoid the Pitfalls to Arrive (and Stay) at Your Best

Hauling Do’s & Don’ts: Avoid the Pitfalls to Arrive (and Stay) at Your Best

If there are pessimists, optimists and realists, then I tend toward the latter. I believe in expecting the best, but preparing for the worst.

After all, if “the worst” is gonna happen, it’ll probably be in the most inconvenient and untimely places, such as when we’re traveling and competing with our horses!

Take a look at this quote by William Arthur Ward – “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

Which one of the three is the action taker here?

Which one are YOU?

In today’s video, we’re gonna talk breakdowns and meltdowns, specifically how to deal with them in advance and even how to avoid them entirely when you’re on the road. Read more

Enter to WIN: How to Pick and Prepare For Varying Competition Environments

Enter to WIN: How to Pick and Prepare for Competition Environments to Gain Confidence One Run at a Time

One of the greatest benefits of traveling and competing a lot is that it gives you a TON of perspective. When you’ve “been there, done that,” you have plenty of different environments to compare, helping you to build a mental Rolo-dex of successes, mistakes, and “I won’t do that agains!” It’s ALL feedback that prepares us to make better decisions and do better next time.

Regardless of how many runs, miles and years you have under your belt, below I’ve shared some valuable tips for sizing up your options and making smart choices when it comes to when and where you decide to enter.

First, how far and often you head out the driveway is largely a financial decision. Let’s face it – in the sport of barrel racing, the chances of coming home with pockets fuller than when you left are not great. This article however was written to help you change those odds and tip them more in your favor! Read more

Lessons from the Road: Three Steps to Embrace Challenges, Build Character and Create a Winning Edge

Lessons from the Road: Three Steps to Embrace Challenges, Build Character and Create a Winning Edge

When it comes to achieving excellence in any area of life, it’s not a matter of IF we’ll face challenges, but WHEN. Contrary to what some of us may think (especially when we’re feeling discouraged), it’s not the actual challenges that hold us back, but how we handle them.

Take Amberly Snyder for example. Did you know she clocked her fastest time on the barrel pattern AFTER the car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down? Pretty amazing.

Consider for a moment how EASY it is to convince ourselves “Well, I can’t do this because __this happened__.” We’re often so quick to tell ourselves stories about how and why we can’t do something, even more so when adversity strikes.

Don’t get me wrong, of course we’re all faced with legitimate limitations at times. But our mess can become our message, and our setback can shape our comeback.

In today’s installment of Lessons From the Road, I’ll be sharing three steps to make it more likely that the journey to achieving your barrel racing goals will be a steady climb, regardless of obstacles and setbacks that will inevitably get in your way. Read more

Horsemanship Before Sportsmanship – Eight Priorities that Pay Off

Horsemanship Before Sportsmanship - Eight Priorities that Pay Off

A couple weeks ago we had fun highlighting the “Four Barrel Racing Personality Types.”

To roll out today’s new article, I’d like to break that down into an even more basic TWO types.

Even though my husband isn’t a barrel racer, his personality serves as a good example of Type B, while I’m Type A. When I appreciate our differences, I can’t help but think of the classic quote by Zig Ziglar – “You cannot make it as a wandering generality. You must become a meaningful specific.”

Craig’s a laid back, roll with the punches kind of guy. While he’s appreciating each moment, I can be found spinning in Tazmanian Devil-like swirls of mental activity and physical productivity. You can imagine why he’s actually a great match for his sensitive gelding, Dot Com (and ME). Craig operates with steady eddy-style energy that provides a lot of peace and reassurance for him.

It’s great when everyone’s feeling relaxed and content, but the warm fuzzies tend to fade when we’re not progressive. That’s where my specialty comes in, which is crushing goals, blasting through obstacles and chasing dreams – full-steam ahead! My succeed or else style can be pretty intense, no doubt. In fact over the years I’ve had to learn to tone it down. And as you might expect, Craig has learned to liven up!

I have a tendency to latch on to ideas like a dog on a bone, where Craig is slow to put a stake in any one belief. When it comes to caring for our horses and doing everything we can to bring out their best and achieve our barrel racing goals with them, I don’t think we can afford to sway too far either direction.

It doesn’t matter what “style” WE are – we’ve GOT to do our homework to find our own “north star.” But having balance and perspective means we must be willing to let it burn out and focus on another guiding light instead, when appropriate.

Below I’ve shared what I consider to be a set of eight powerful principles to guide you through life, horse training, competing and more. Read more

Unshakable Confidence – How to Build DEEP Inner Strength to Achieve HIGH Barrel Racing Goals

Unshakable Confidence – How to Build DEEP Inner Strength to Achieve HIGH Barrel Racing Goals

This month we’ve already gone deep to offer no-nonsense tips and techniques for upping your mental game. But how DEEP are you willing to go?

Our personal comfort with depth is an important topic, because it determines the height of our success. The higher level goals we have for our horses, the deeper their foundation must be, and it’s NO different for us.

Here at, I primarily focus on areas related to developing and refining our horse’s education. But there’s A LOT more to jockeying a barrel horse successfully than just riding well, or even being a great trainer. Read more

Three No-Brainer Components for Successful and Consistent Barrel Racing Under Pressure

Three No-Brainer Components for Successful and Consistent Barrel Racing Under Pressure

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #147 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
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I always say – there’s a lot more to barrel racing, than barrel racing!

For this reason I feel as though the off season, OR any time we’re sidetracked from active competition (for example, when a horse gets injured – my situation not log ago) provides a good opportunity to dive into other areas of personal development that will accelerate our barrel racing success once we’re back in the saddle.

The thing is, when we haven’t been competing for a while it’s easy to beebop along in our own little comfort zone, completely oblivious about how to pressure of competition effects us.  When we’re not out testing ourselves regularly, we get a little rusty and forgetful!

I had a HUGE wake-up call after we first moved from Wyoming and I’d been living in my own little secluded south-Texas world, then hauled our horses to a HUGE barrel race not far from home.  Read more