Barrel Racing Tips Printable Resource Round Up

Barrel Racing Tips Printable Resource Round Up

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

They’ve been compiled to give you quick and easy access to resources that will spark your own resourcefulness as a trainer, and build a fire in your barrel horse while you’re at it.

So open, download, save and print these gems for your reference library and visit the original posts (in BOLD) for more details.

Most importantly – put them to good use and enjoy reaping the rewards! 😉 Read more

Be Ready for Anything with 16 Barrel Racing Boot Bag Necessities

Be Ready for Anything with 16 Barrel Racing Boot Bag Necessities

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #272 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

For a barrel racer, it’s a sickening feeling to suddenly realize you need a specific product or tool just minutes before competing, only to realize you left it at the trailer.

No one wants to experience panic, anxiety or concern in those critical pre-run moments.

Especially considering that the trailer might be a half mile away, having everything we could possibly need close at hand not only saves time, but it saves mental bandwidth – so we can stay focused on what’s most important, which is getting in the zone for our upcoming run, instead of getting distracted. Read more

The ONE Thing Good AND Bad Runs Must Have in Common for Continued Barrel Racing Success

The ONE Thing Good Runs and Bad Runs Must Have in Common for Continued Barrel Racing Success

When I made the second run back on my gelding Pistol several weeks ago, after a FIVE year break from competing (and SEVEN months of re-conditioning) due to an injury, the overwhelming feelings I experienced were ones I won’t soon forget.

While it wasn’t exactly an arena record, the run felt solid and we clocked at the top of the 3D against more than a couple hundred of the best barrel racers in Texas – not too shabby I figured, considering I wasn’t sure he’d return to running barrels AT ALL!

I was pretty excited, and as Pistol and caught our breath, I turned and locked eyes with my hubby (and videographer) who was walking toward us with the same excited and grateful smirk on his face.
Read more

Teachings from Tess – Eleven Life Lessons from My Best Four-Legged Friend

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #157 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn, Stitcher or Google Play.

When I first got my Australian Shepherd Tess in 2002, I spent a ton of time teaching her things.

I read books about clicker training, we went to obedience class and she even passed special testing to become a Certified Therapy Dog.

We did agility together, worked stock, and a good friend of mine (an expert dog handler) even showed Tess – bringing home many ribbons and prizes.

It seemed to take Tess FOREVER to learn to balance on her hind legs for “trick dog” (sitting up) but learning “stay” (with a hand signal) was sooooo easy – I swear she could read my mind.

Perhaps my favorite and her most unique trick, was to retrieve a Kleenex from a box when I sneezed – it was always a hit!

You might also remember this special Holiday video from a few years back showing Tess doin’ a little groundwork with my gelding Pistol.

On Christmas morning she eagerly sat by Craig and I around the tree as usual, politely but anxiously waiting her turn to open presents. When given the OK, she always tore the wrapping paper off herself!

Educating Tess and teaching her tricks was always fun and entertaining, and helped her become a well-adjusted canine citizen, but just like a really special horse – they end up teaching US so much more.  Read more

101 Quick Tips to Improve Your Riding on the Barrel Pattern

Quick-Fix Tricks to Improve Your Riding on the Barrel Pattern

In barrel racing, we’re not judged on how well we can “sit pretty.”

But it’s critical that we don’t adopt a clock as clock can attitude, either.

This is because HOW we get across the timer line matters. It matters most, to our horses.

After growing up dabbling in 4-H, I learned that a “good rider” was one who kept their toes in, heels down, seat glued to the saddle, and had straight shoulder/hip/heel alignment.

However, learning to hold a particular posture in the saddle so we LOOK like a good rider is no substitute for actually becoming one.

In fact, if we don’t intentionally learn to “go with the flow” and ride with fluidity (even at speed), no amount of equitation lessons will help us if we don’t also have THE FEEL.

The LOOK alone will never be enough in a sport that requires so much quickness, balance, timing and athleticism from horse and human alike.

Outside of appearances, a lot of us aren’t guiding our horses as effectively as we could – not necessarily because we haven’t yet followed through with that fitness program, or because we’re not athletic enough (although these are contributing factors), but because we’re just ever so slightly out of position.

While some of the changes we’re after in our horses and ourselves will require time and commitment, today I wanted to lighten the load a bit and share a LONG list of “quick tips” that have the power to turn a less than stellar run into a winning one, in a literal instant. Read more

Three Steps to Being Your Own (Part-time) Barrel Horse Bodyworker

Three Steps to Being Your Own (Part-time) Barrel Horse Bodyworker

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #171 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

You already know it’s more than a full-time job being a barrel racer – it’s MULTIPLE full-time jobs! Including, but not limited to – stall cleaner, nutritionist, truck driver, scheduler, horse trainer, equine behaviorist, Vet., massage therapist, and the list goes on!

When you’re (understandably) feeling spread thin, it’s hard to find motivation to go deeper in a certain area without risk of neglecting others. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing why it’s so critical that we take our understanding of how our horse’s bodies work, and how we can best support them, to the next level.

Even if we would prefer to leave all the health and therapy mumbo jumbo to the professional equine bodyworkers or Vets., investing in our own education and skills is a great way to take what’s good and make it even better.

Below I’ve outlined a critical prerequisite, plus the areas that most deserve our time and attention (with links to resources), AND how to fit it all in amongst all the other demands of barrel racing! Read more

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

Study, Compare and Refine Second Barrel Footfall to Get on the Fast Track!

Study, Compare and Refine Second Barrel Footfall to Get on the Fast Track!

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