The purpose of this post is simple – to serve as collection of ALL the printable, downloadable PDF guides and worksheets I’ve ever created as companions to the many posts here at BarrelRacingTips.com. They’ve been compiled to give you quick and easy access to resources that will spark your own resourcefulness as a trainer, and…
- ARTICLES + VIDEOS
- LET'S RIDE
- FREE GUIDE
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. Read more
When I got together with a few barrel buddies recently there was a lot of awkward silence, broken up with a few verbal “WOWs.” You could almost hear the wheels turning.
We were measuring and comparing where our horse’s feet travel on the barrel pattern. The uncertainty in the air was palpable, so I reminded these gals (both with 1D horses) that “different” didn’t necessarily mean wrong.
But like me, I knew they were ALSO thinking about how these measurements related to how their horses used themselves in a run. The possibility of taking something good and making it much better was exciting!
I thought back to times I had ridden with Charmayne James, who teaches students to travel the same distance around the turns, or Lisa Lockhart who advises folks to follow a path that is widest (approximately 5-7 ft.) at the start of the turn, that gradually decreases on the back side and is narrowest at the finish (approximately 1-3 ft.), then there’s Lynn McKenzie who teaches a straighter longer approach, which includes more room on the back side of the barrels.
I was also reminded of two horsemanship clinicians who taught the same program fundamentals, but one prefers to swing the shoulders to prepare a horse to perform a flying lead change, whereas the other preferred to move the hips over.
The same idea could apply to each barrel racer’s preference when it comes to pre-turn positioning – do YOU push the hips in, or lift the shoulders up… both, or neither? It’s not that one way is right or wrong, and to a degree they each accomplish similar goals.
They key I believe, is to “Be firm on principle but flexible on method.” – Zig Ziglar
Remember also that if something works for one person and not for another, it’s often due to how the technique was applied, OR even the makeup of the raw material they had to start with (the horse’s foundational understandings). I encourage you to always go deeper before writing something off as “not working!”
When we took a stroll through the pattern, first on Lucky then on Kat with each rider placing the horse where we felt they should be. This is what we found at the second barrel: Read more
The degree of responsiveness we NEED at the gate is NOT conditional – it HAS to hold up in any and all circumstances, even (and especially) when energy and adrenaline is high.
For some it’s not quite responsiveness that’s a problem, but the horse’s emotional stability. Ever catch yourself tip toeing around ever so subtly as you ask your horse to get in position because he’s SO reactive at the gate that he’s borderline unpredictable or dangerous?
If that’s the case it’s a different kind of problem, yet it also needs to be addressed before we can truly be set up for a successful run in the alley.
I addressed both these issues and more in today’s NEW Pro Members video post. Read more
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
As barrel racers – we’re conditioned to believe that “practice makes perfect” and that “repetition” is how we and our horses learn.
But I’m calling us out on that today.
You see, doing the same thing over and over and over, like walking, then trotting and loping the pattern for say, three months to start a barrel horse might be a recipe for disaster, IF you’re not doing it in the right WAY.
REPETITION ALONE DOES NOT TEACH HORSES. Read more
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
The other day I watched a handful of runs from the video archives on my gelding, Pistol. Certain aspects of them got me really excited and other aspects were a little hard to watch because I feel like I have new “eyes to see” certain issues.
Let’s just say there were a couple Homer Simpson hand to the forehead “DOH” moments!
The same issues that were happening on the pattern in those videos are completely related to how Pistol “tests out” at home (more on that below).
As I wrap up my goals with Dot Com this month and shift more focus to preparing Pistol for competition after a long rehab from an injury and 2+ years away from competing, you can bet that I’m focusing on strengthening our weak areas as they relate to the barrel pattern so we’re more than READY when the time comes! Read more