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,
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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

STOP the Drop – STAND UP for Powerful Positioning and Efficient Turns!

STOP the Drop - STAND UP for Powerful Positioning and Efficient Turns!

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #59 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
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If you’ve been following the action at BarrelRacingTips.com for a while, you know that I often stress the importance of instilling an education in horses that allows us to move their body anywhere, at any time.

We must have a high degree of understanding, communication and responsiveness to have influence over our horse’s body position at speed especially.

Although some barrel racers don’t want their horses too bendy and “gumby-like,” what’s most likely happening in these cases is that the horse is not taking responsibility for staying perfectly on track – causing a need for the rider to micromanage the horse through the turns. 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.
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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.
Read more

The “Lazy” Barrel Horse – How to Build a FIRE in Their Feet!


Ask yourself this – what’s your default response like when faced with a challenge?

When it comes to problem solving (in any area of life), I’ve personally found changing my perspective to be highly effective.

Take my verrry laid back gelding, Pistol, for example…

On one hand, I appreciate his easy going tendencies. He’s confident, comfortable and content in nearly all situations, and I can haul all over the country without him becoming overly stressed, losing weight, etc. He handles the pressure of speed event competition like a champ.

Of course, I’d like to take a little credit for him being so solid, however I have to admit it has a lot to do with how he’s wired by nature.

Pistol as a youngster, relaxing with friends.
Pistol as a youngster, relaxing with friends.

It’s probably accurate to say that the majority of barrel racers don’t have a problem with “lazy” horses, but yet perhaps you’ve had moments when you’ve needed more electric energy and quickness from your horse.

There’s no doubt having a burst of energy available in the split second you need it most can dramatically affect your success!

It actually took me quite a while to effectively and authentically motivate Pistol.

You see, he’s not really “lazy.”

He was just unmotivated, in large part because I wasn’t very interesting.

How’s that for a change in perspective?
Read more

Master the Second Barrel with Three Simple Steps for a Fluid, Fast Turn

Master the Second Barrel with Three Simple Steps for a Fluid, Fast Turn

A few months ago, I introduced the concept of RSPA or “rate/shape point anxiety” and it’s damaging effects.

I also shared a video post in which I walked through the process of acing the first barrel with my simple 3×3 Troubleshooting Plan.

The second barrel turn on the other hand, creates a challenge unlike any other, thus making it the most commonly tipped barrel.

This is in large part because we have the shortest distance between barrels and happen to be running straight into a wall – which often doesn’t have much real estate behind it, contributing to horse’s tendencies to “get short” and anticipate the turn.

There’s so much more to resolving this problem than “picking a horse’s shoulder up,” however. If you take the right steps, you can blast across the pen with speed and good timing to nail your second barrel without stutter steps, hesitation, dropping in, or all the other unpleasantries that are SO common.

As you’ll learn in the video below, anticipation at the second barrel can become a thing of the past, but only if we take two steps back to intelligently consider the problem as it’s source AND solve it in a complete, thorough, and multi-faceted way.
Read more

How Pistol Got His Groove Back – (Re)Building Confidence and Focus in the Barrel Horse

Building Confidence and Focus in the Barrel Horse

As I’ve been riding my superstar gelding Pistol again this spring after a LONG year and a half of being sidelined due to an injury, I’ve noticed that he wasn’t the same horse I left off with.

But things had started to change even before he got hurt.

You see, a few years ago I had started learning more about what true leadership REALLY IS (which wasn’t what I thought).

I’d started learning about the difference between a horse that is quiet and calm vs. quiet and withdrawn

A horse that performs based on desire vs. avoidance.

A horse that responds vs. reacts.

A horse that yields to pressure (and can even come toward pressure when asked) vs. run away from it.

The vast majority of timed speed event horses are withdrawing, avoiding, reacting, and running away.

And the vast majority of timed speed event horses could perform even better and faster IF they were operating from a foundation of calm, connected, responsive desire. Read more

Teach Your Barrel Horse to Maintain Body Shape for Better (Faster) Barrel Racing

Teach Your Barrel Horse to Maintain Body Shape for Better (Faster) Barrel Racing

Although riding with bit contact and learning to do so well IS not only an important part of our development as riders/trainers, AND our performance horse’s education, unfortunately it’s all too common for our horse’s athletic abilities to be DEPENDENT on that contact.

I had some first hand experience with this recently as I set out to master BRIDLELESS flying lead changes with my barrel horse.

Although I’d had quick and easy success with flying lead changes with other horses in the past, performing them with him initially had been a challenge for us both.

Eventually we mastered flying changes, and he’s been going beautifully bridleless, so I didn’t quite expect that combining the two would be so difficult.

BUT, where there is challenge, there is change, and I was committed to persevering through what it would take to achieve my goal, having faith that there would be some valuable lessons on the other side.

What I realized right off the bat, was that when I didn’t gather Pistol up with the reins and support his collected frame with my hands, his body “fell flat,” and all hopes of performing bridleless flying changes fell with it. Read more

Free Your Barrel Horse from Emotions that Hold Back Athletic Potential

How to Give Up Micromanaging and GAIN a Horse that Loves Barrel Racing!

They say when you take the bridle off your horse, you’re left with one thing – THE TRUTH.

In the second of a three part “TRUTH” series, today I’m sharing some powerful lessons that came to me during the first few bridleless rides with my husband’s gelding Dot Com a while back.

You may already be familiar with Dot Com and the steps I’ve taken to guide him through “rope horse rehab.”

One chilly day the winter before last, my husband was filming Dot Com and I for a project at a local indoor barn. I was riding him in mecate reins and his elevated stride kept bouncing the reins and causing the mecate to slip out of my belt loop.

To say it was distracting and annoying would have been an understatement.

So I did what anyone would do (just kidding, don’t try this at home without plenty of prior, proper, preparation) – I took the bridle off and tossed it to the ground.

My husband’s jaw dropped… Read more