Posts

How to Start Your Rides and Runs Right!

Start and Finish Your Turns Tight & Right

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #44 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or Google Play.


You may already be well aware of how important the start of any barrel racing run is.

When I interviewed World Champion barrel racer, Mary Walker she explained that the reason for her tipped second barrel in the fourth round of the 2012 National Finals Rodeo was a positioning issue – in the alley.

You read right. She felt as though Latte tipped the SECOND barrel, because of a positioning problem in the alley.

But what if your success in a run, or a ride, started EVEN before that. What IF it started before you even laid eyes on your horse?

In the height of the competitive barrel racing season especially, I know that if I’m not very intentional and specific about planning my rides in advance, I’m less likely to stay on track.

Sometimes, when the busyness of life gets the best of us, planning might take place after we’re already on the way to the barn, but rarely do I throw a leg over my horse without first giving thought to my intentions for each ride and what I am aiming to achieve in the long run.

Your ride starts well before you lay eyes on your horse.
Your ride starts well before you lay eyes on your horse.

At the same time, if we become too strict with our plans, we risk getting out of touch with how our horses feel and what they need in the moment.

This is so critically important, because let’s face it – than can change from one day or one minute to the next!  We may find that we need to focus on something entirely different than what we planned on.  In these cases, it’s best to be flexible and allow our horses to guide us.

Once you’ve made some notes (even mental notes) of your intentions for your ride, your second opportunity to set yourself up for success comes when you set foot toward your horse to halter him.  Notice I said “halter,” and not “catch” (there is a BIG difference)! Think of it this way – you want to “catch” your horse’s ATTENTION, then halter your horse.
Read more

Discover and Develop the Horse Power You Need to Succeed!

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #39 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or Google Play.


The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo serves as a source of inspiration for many barrel racers. After all, who hasn’t dreamed of blasting down the alley at the Thomas & Mack?

Qualifying for the NFR is never as easy as it looks, however. The competition is tough and the standards are high – only the top 15 earnings leaders among over 3,000 WPRA members qualify each year for what is known as “the greatest show on dirt!”

The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo - Where Dreams Come True
The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – Where Dreams Come True

With the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo now in our rear view mirror, it’s a good time to look ahead to the New Year and write/talk barrel horses; after all it takes a very special equine partner to rise to top of professional rodeo.

There has ever been a point in history when the equine athlete has been a more important part of the barrel racing equation. Every year the number of horses who have been genetically engineered for barrel racing grows. Although many of the elements necessary to win (hard work, determination, positive attitude, etc.) will remain the same as we go forward, at the same time what it takes to be competitive today is different than it was a few years ago.
Read more

Your NFR Game Plan – Steps for Turning BIG Barrel Racing Dreams into Reality

Your NFR Game Plan - Steps for Turning BIG Barrel Racing Dreams into Reality

In this special post, I’ll be sharing a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how someone without all the typical support systems and resources that the NFR barrel racers seem to have… can work toward reaching THAT level of barrel racing achievement.

First, you should know that over a year ago I started making detailed plans for the NFR.

I don’t mean planning my wardrobe for this year (haven’t even started on that yet!) – I mean getting ready to RUN there.

Yep, I already know where we’re going to stay & keep horses when I’m competing in Vegas. 

Wait, what!?  Someone might say “You don’t even have ______, ______, or ______ yet!”

While that may be true on one level, my faith in the unseen and what I DO have is even more true on deeper level.  I’m just planning for the eventual and inevitable.

I have no doubt in the dream God planted in my heart.

So EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I’m preparing for the NFR. ✨

You can be getting ready too – no matter how far away it may seem right now.
Read more

Six Secrets for Relaxed, Quality Movement

Six Secrets for Relaxed, Quality Movement

Just like humans, horses are born with naturally occurring tendencies, characteristics and personality traits.

Some tend to be more high strung, some tend to be laid back, some are more naturally confident, some are more fearful.

What many riders don’t realize though, is that there is a TON we can do to help our horses achieve balance. When we do this, we’re likely to experience the benefits both in the barrel racing arena and in our horse’s over all physical and mental well-being.

Because I love horses so much, I feel a great personal responsibility to instill in them the education and emotional fitness necessary to successfully handle the challenges that come along with life as performance horses.

Quality movement helps reveal your horse's greatest potential!
Quality movement helps reveal your horse’s greatest potential!

Most barrel racers will deal with some tension or an over abundance of “go” in a horse at one point or another. It’s often a byproduct of the speed that’s required in our sport. Speed releases adrenaline, it creates anticipation, and unlike other slower paced equine sports, speed adds even more pressure to the competition environment.

Some horses who are confident and have been carefully developed, may genuinely experience excitement in anticipation of running, but often, what WE would like to perceive as “excitement” is actually worry, impulsiveness, anxiety, tension and fear.

Whatever labels we assign to their behavior, it’s important that our horses remain connected and responsive to us, and that we do our best to keep their association with the barrels as positive as possible.
Read more

How & Why “Buck, the Film” Relates to Barrel Racing

How & Why “Buck, the Film” Relates to Barrel Racing
The early years in Wyoming – fortunate to be influenced by Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman.

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #16 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Play.


I’ve often said – “There’s a lot more to barrel racing, than barrel racing.” 

This understanding is a big part of why I chose to offer a copy of the award winning documentary movie, “Buck, the Film” to those who purchased the Secrets to Barrel Racing Success Pay it Forward Package during the book’s initial launch.

If you don’t get the “a lot more” part, your barrel racing will always be lacking.  That’s where Buck Brannaman comes in.  An early protégé of the legendary late horsemen, Ray Hunt and the Dorrance Brothers, Brannaman has dedicated his life to “helping horses with people problems.”

After having called Wyoming home for nearly 15 years, I’ve jumped at opportunities to be in the presence of these legendary horsemen and learn from them in person. I chose to offer the DVD as a free gift, because it brilliantly displays a message, actually many messages, that have been instrumental in my barrel racing success. In this article, I wanted to share more about how and why, these horsemen and this movie, have shaped my horsemanship and barrel racing path.

If you follow “Buck, the Film” on Facebook, you’ll see they regularly post images with quotes.  One of my recent favorites was this…

“My daughter’s all grown up now compared to what she was, but I used to say, I’ve got to have my horse to where if she’s leading my horse somewhere, and she’s got a big armload of Barbies and drops something out of her hand, that son of a buck ought to stop and respect her while she’s gathering up all her dolls and not to walk on her or take advantage of her. And if I’ve done my work right, by gosh, that’s what they’ll do.” – Buck Brannaman

Read more

Sherry Cervi’s Recipe for Barrel Racing Success

Sherry Cervi & Heather Smith

In 2011 I had the honor of interviewing multiple-time barrel racing World Champion, Sherry Cervi LIVE at the Silver Lining Herbs boot at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

In the video below, Sherry shared:

Three Ingredients in her Recipe for Barrel Racing Success.

In this video, we’ll gain some insight into…

#1. How Sherry Cervi finds a horse with potential

#2. How she develops a champion barrel horse, AND

#3. How she supports and maintains them
Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more