Tag Archive for: barrel racing tips

The Barrel Racing SECRETS are Out!

Here we are – January 31st, 2012 and I honestly don’t have words (how rare is THAT?) to describe how excited I am to announce the release of my first book, Secrets to Barrel Racing Success!’ 

But rather than give you details on what’s included in it, today I wanted to share the story of how Secrets to Barrel Racing Success came to life…     
To say that 2011 was a big year for me, well that’d be an understatement.  I didn’t enter as many barrel races as most years, I didn’t get a new horse (I actually GAVE ONE AWAY)! 

Playing in the Creek.
Playing in the Creek.

In fact, my barrel horse and I enjoyed making “the big circle” to check yearlings numerous times, and my most memorable moment with my horse was splashing around in a creek on a 100+ degree August day with a good friend, her horse and our dogs – what a blast!

What I’m getting to, without going into a lot of details, is that 2011 was HUGE for me personally, therefore it’s been HUGE for me in every other way. 

This is especially true in the areas of horsemanship and barrel racing.  After all, when we really learn and grow in a certain area, we expand in others as well.  After an unforgettable summer, last fall I really started to release fear, and get clear

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Should I Take on a Barrel Horse with Issues?

We’ve all been tempted…

We stumble across a barrel horse for sale with good looks or impeccable barrel racing bloodlines, and then – the PRICE! Too good to be true!? Maybe so, when it comes to horses with issues.

They might pull back, have the beginning of arthritis, signs of an old tendon injury, or they might (occasionally) buck, or have issues at the gate. The problems may be minor or major. They may be physical, mental or behavioral in nature (or most likely all of the above). Regardless,

there’s usually more to the issue than meets the eye.

It’s not uncommon for the outward symptoms to be just the tip of the iceberg. Under the surface there is often much more to be discovered.

The question is, are you ready and willing to handle any surprises that may be lying under the surface? Chances are there are some big gaps in the horse’s foundation, and truthfully it takes well developed skills and experience to properly and thoroughly fill in these gaps.

Everyone loves a fairytale story of an underdog horse and a rider that rise to victory against all odds. As much of a dreamer as I am, when it comes to horses with issues, I’m afraid it’s my duty to say that those cases are more exceptions than rules.

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How to Fix a Wide Turn on the Barrel Pattern

Out with the Goals, In with the New

Ever feel like you might as well put a sign on your horse’s rear end that reads “Caution: This Equine Vehicle Makes Wide Turns!?” 

A wide turn means covering extra real estate on the pattern, which results in drastically slower times.

Addressing this issue starts with coming to terms with a simple fact…

The Horse is Not Responding Appropriately to What Has Been Asked

The solution comes in determining WHY?

Caution Wide Turns

Two common causes of wide turns are:

#1 – Our horse is not taking responsibility for traveling in the direction we point them indefinitely. Keep in mind that the horse is really not at fault. It’s our responsibility as riders, to ensure our horse understands their responsibilities!

Click here to refer to a previous Q&A for a review of an exercise called “Point to Point” which helps accomplish this.

#2 – The horse does not have high level responsiveness to our hands and a solid foundational understanding of leg cues, making correcting their position on the pattern difficult.  The truth is that speed changes everything, requiring more from horses in the barrel racing discipline than any other.

In the video below I describe these two points in detail and demonstrate what the level of responsiveness we’re after looks like.  Below the video are some helpful how-to’s for developing this kind of responsiveness. 

Be forewarned however, you’ll likely need a new sign – one that reads “Caution: Sharp Turns Ahead!”   Read more

How to Kiss Bad Barrel Racing Habits Goodbye!

How to Kiss Bad Barrel Racing Habits Good-bye!

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #9 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Play.


Train your body, ride better, and unleash your potential!

Judging by the title you might guess that this article will cover steps to overcoming bad habits – quite the contrary!

This article WILL cover a step by step process that will allow you to embrace new habits in your riding; habits that will better serve you in an actual run.

There’s quite a difference between the two (overcoming bad vs. embracing new), but more on that later…

When it comes to the mental game, there is plenty of talk about the importance if quieting the mind. It IS ideal for us to hand the reins over to our subconscious and let go of “thinking” our way through a run.

To do this, however, we must rely on our bodies to operate in a way that allows our horse to perform to their fullest potential.

But what if our body doesn’t hold up its end of the deal?

Over time we find ourselves riding in a way that may have worked for us as a kid or may have worked for a horse we had in the past. When it’s time for a change – feelings of frustration are common.

Because barrel racing is a high speed event, there is only time to react, making it very difficult (if not impossible) to think about changes we must make in our riding during a run.

As barrel racers, we can be hard on ourselves when our riding doesn’t measure up to the way we want to ride in a run, and how we know our horses must be ridden to perform at their peak. 

Studies show that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Sounds simple enough. That is, until you apply it to barrel racing!

The reality is that most of us don’t have a string of finished horses to make several runs on every day for 21 days straight. And we wouldn’t want to jeopardize our horse’s physical and mental health to better ourselves. But if something doesn’t change, the wheels continue to spin.

The good news is that you don’t have to keep banging your head against the trailer! IF you are determined to accomplish your goals, it IS possible to create new habits, and do so without sacrificing your horse (or your sanity).

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Ride Your Barrel Horse Better with the Power Seat

Ride Your Barrel Horse Better with the Power Seat

by Certified Centered Riding Instructor, Cathy Mahon

I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember the days when in order to get all of the items on your grocery list, you had to go to at least three, if not four different stores. There was the butcher shop, where you bought your meat, a bakery for your bread and donuts, a produce stand where you would buy your fruits and vegetables and if you needed anything for your medicine cabinet, you had to go to the “drugstore.” It was time consuming, inconvenient and frustrating if you’d forget something and have to make another trip across town.

Well, now there’s a simple solution for shopping – the superstore or supermarket! And just as remarkable, is a simple straightforward way to find your POWER SEAT when you ride. By engaging the supportive, powerful CORE muscles (no, I mean the REAL core muscles) of the psoas and iliopsoas, located deep inside the body, you’ll be able to sit deep in the saddle, wrap your legs snugly around your horse’s barrel and keep your feet exactly where they need to be: grounded with equal weight in the stirrups.

You will breathe softly and maintain your balance, and your joints will flex and absorb the motion of your horse. You’ll notice your horse immediately rate underneath you when you deepen your contact with a simple exhale allowing your weight to drop back and down. You can move through the barrel pattern with simple upper body rotation, avoiding the tendency to lean into the turns. You’ll be stable no matter what you do.

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A Barrel Racer’s Guide to Understanding and Creating Impulsion

A Barrel Racer's Guide to Understanding and Creating Impulsion

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #4 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Play.


IMPULSION.

Next to collection, it could very possibly be one of the most misunderstood and often missing, but critical pieces to any performance endeavor with horses.

I went in-depth to cover the subject of collection in another post (see link below), but make no mistake, these two go hand in hand. Although they are equally important when it comes to developing a winning barrel horse, impulsion is at the top of the priority list.

One definition I came across states that impulsion is the “the powerful thrust from the hindquarters that propels the horse forward. Impulsion is the surge that occurs when the horse’s hindquarters push off the ground.”

Another describes impulsion as the “pushing power (thrust) of a horse, which comes from his desire to move powerfully forward with energy.”

However, there is one similarity and one difference in the above definitions that I would like to call attention to.

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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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