Rodeo’s Leading Ladies – Meet the 2017 Top 15 NFR Barrel Racers

2017 NFR Barrel Racers

The top 15 WPRA barrel racing qualifiers are finalizing their last preparations before heading to Las Vegas, and will soon be blasting down the alley at the Thomas & Mack.

In anticipation of the upcoming barrel racing action, I’m excited to share their reflections on the 2017 season, and some insights into what we can look forward to seeing in this year’s race to the gold buckle.

So before the gates crack open on December 7th, let’s dive in and get to know these these amazing women and their horses (including pedigrees) who will entertain, educate and inspire us – at the 2017 NFR and beyond! Read more

Perfect Circles and Better Body Language with NFR Barrel Racer, Michele McLeod

Perfect Circles and Better Body Language with NFR Barrel Racer, Michele McLeod

As a four-time NFR barrel racing qualifier, Michele McLeod has plenty of valuable knowledge and experience to pass on to others. Thankfully for barrel racers, she’s been doing just that lately and I was grateful for the opportunity to catch up with her and multiple-time AQHA World Champion Calf Roper and Super Horse trainer, C.R. Bradley at a clinic they put on in Denton, Texas. Read more

“Correct & Collect” for Better Barrel Racing with NFR Qualifiers Sarah Rose McDonald and Taylor Jacob

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In 2016, when I wasn’t able to attend the NFR due to our 15 year old dog, Tess’s failing health, a trusted source mentioned after being at the NFR barrel racing practice sessions, that they were especially impressed with Taylor Jacob’s horsemanship.

After seeing footage of the top 15 working the pattern myself, I also really appreciated the late, great “Bling” as a mover, and knew that natural talent aside, her quality biomechanics had to be in large part being carefully instilled and maintained by her trainer and jockey, Sarah Rose McDonald.

When I received word that these two barrel racing superstars were pairing together for a clinic in nearby Carmine, Texas, it only made sense that I’d jump at the opportunity to gather and share some of their barrel racing wisdom! Read more

Making it BIG in Vegas – with NFR Barrel Racing Rookie, Cayla Melby Small

2016 NFR Barrel Racer Cayla Melby Small
Cayla and Gator pictured after their win in Innisfail, Alberta.

Cayla Melby Small may be an NFR Rookie, and the 2016 WPRA Rookie of the year, but she’s no newbie to barrel racing. As the daughter of 2-time NFR Qualifier Jane Melby, Cayla has been in the saddle competing with the goal to make the NFR at age 18 since she was just a toddler.

Rodeo is a family affair for Team Melby, and the family just got bigger when Cayla married Zac Small this October, who is also a 2016 NFR first timer on the heading side in the team roping (check out hashtag #TwoSmallsGoingBiginVegas). The insights Cayla shared below about her horses, her season, favorite products and more give us a fun sneak peek into the life and times of a “rookie” professional on rodeo road!
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Tips for Going Pro (and More) with NFR Barrel Racer, Carley Richardson

NFR Barrel Racer Carley Richardson

Even if 80’s metal isn’t your favorite genre of music, and the band name ‘Autograph’ doesn’t ring a bell, you’re still likely to be familiar with the line, “Turn up the RADIO” that also bears the song’s namesake (click here to jog your memory.)

Judging by the lyrics, the rock ‘n roll lifestyle doesn’t seem so far off that of an NFR barrel racer: Read more

Fifteen Questions with No. 15 NFR Barrel Racer – Amberleigh Moore

She may have qualified in the fifteenth spot, but even as an NFR Rookie Amber Moore has every reason to be confident. Below she’s shared insights from her amazing 2016 season and offered valuable advice for those of us who’d love to follow in her boots as an NFR barrel racing qualifier! Read more

Viva Las Vegas! Meet the 2016 Top 15 NFR Barrel Racers

2016 NFR Barrel Racers

The top 15 WPRA barrel racing qualifiers have arrived in Las Vegas, and will soon be blasting down the alley at the Thomas & Mack. In anticipation of the rodeo action, I’m excited to share their reflection on at the 2016 season, and what we can expect to see in this years race to the gold buckle.

So before the gates open, let’s dive in and get to know these these amazing women and their horses (including pedigrees) who will entertain, educate and inspire us – at the 2016 NFR and beyond! Read more

How to TEACH and Prepare Your Horse to Handle Challenging Ground Conditions

How to TEACH and Prepare Your Horse to Handle Challenging Ground Conditions

The barrel racing world has been abuzz lately on the important topic of ground conditions and what must be done to improve them, especially at the super bowl of rodeo and most prestigious event of the year – the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

As individual barrel racers with gold buckle dreams and valuable equine athletes that are both part of our livelihood and families, our hope for change comes in part through believing there is power in numbers, and that our voices and concerns are more likely to be heard when we join forces and take a stand together to #raisethebarforrodeo, as is being attempted through this petition.

It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions surrounding the issue – after all, there’s not just a lot of money at stake each night, but one single slip can be career ending for a beloved barrel horse, and the safety of the world’s top jockey’s is at stake as well. It’s no doubt serious business and an issue that can’t be taken lightly at any level.

In times like this, with social media at our fingertips it’s easy to hop on the finger-pointing and complaining bandwagon. When so many others are on board, it can be tempting to follow suit.

So while I do believe there is power in numbers, and am an advocate for safe ground conditions, I’m also a BIG believer that we must each take personal responsibility for our own safety and that of our horses, and that’s what I intend to help you do today. In any circumstance when we haven’t done everything in our own power through preparation, then a one-sided blame game isn’t quite a fair one to play.

Especially when a public message from WPRA headquarters enlightened us to the legitimate limitations in the influence and control barrel racers have over the ground conditions, situations like the WNFR especially require us to take matters into our own hands in addition to joining forces, and each do our part – which may include reaching out to local rodeo committees, but especially TEACHING and preparing ourselves and our horses, starting with the steps we take in our own home arenas – to increase the odds for safe and successful runs no matter what kind of challenging circumstances come our way.

In the pro members post below, I’ve shared TEN ways to do just that! Read more