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Road to the NFR – More Success Secrets and Statistics from the Top 15

Road to the NFR - More Success Secrets and Statistics from the Top 15

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #148 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn, Stitcher or Google Play.


If you were to scour every interview with the NFR barrel racers over the years, then collect and compare their insights, you’d make some pretty amazing realizations. But who has time for that, right?

Even as amateur barrel racers, we’re bogged down with work & life responsibilities that seem to leave little time for our personal barrel racing development.
Well that’s where I come in! 😉

The following collection of Statistical Secrets for Success were compiled from WPRA interviews with the top 15 NFR barrel racers over the last four years, and offer loads of lessons and inspiration for your own barrel racing journey – enjoy! Read more

NFR Insider – Will Adversity (and Bad Ground) Cause You to Break, or Break Records?

NFR Insider - Will Adversity (and Bad Ground) Cause You to Break, or Break Records?

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #149 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn, Stitcher or Google Play.


When my husband Craig and I stepped off the jet-bridge from the 757 that took us from Cowboy Town back to Austin after the NFR, our tummies were rumbling.

We’d been eating out all week in Vegas and were more than ready for some “clean” food. Nothing at the airport was appealing so we set out to find a semi-healthy meal.

Being that we were still fairly new to Texas, we didn’t exactly know our way around like the back of our hands yet. I have an excellent sense of direction, but my husband is very attached to his trusty ol’ (outdated) GPS. That’s how our little adventure got started.

“Go this way!” “NO it’s left, not right!” “That’s NOT what it shows on my phone!” We missed our first turn and the goose chase began. About 20 minutes later, we finally arrived at our destination. The atmosphere in the car was dense with frustration, but it wasn’t mine.

The situation reminded me of the one the 2014 NFR barrel racers faced. Read more

Cream of the Crop – Meet and Learn From the 2014 Top 15 NFR Barrel Racers

Cream of the Crop - Meet and Learn from the 2014 Top 15 NFR Barrel Racers

They’re not just good, or even great.

The field of 15 barrel racers that will grace the tunnel of the Thomas & Mack with their beauty and horsepower as they run toward $796,875 in prize money this year, are quite simply in a class by themselves.

Also known in french as crème de la crème, or cream of the cream, metaphorically the meaning of this phrase is “the best of the best” – much like the richest part of milk that rises to the very top.

As tough and competitive as barrel racing is, there are plenty of barrel racers that try as they might, don’t rise to this level.

If YOUR dream is to be one of professional rodeo’s elite top 15 at the NFR, take note of the deeper meaning behind each reply below, then research and reflect on how to make connections to your own barrel racing program that will ultimately lift YOU up as well! Read more

The Truth About Chasing Your Barrel Racing Dreams (and Why You Don’t Have a Choice)

Tips for Following Your Barrel Racing Dreams (and Why You Don't Have a Choice)

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #74 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
For the latest episodes subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, TuneIn or Spotify.


You know something’s wrong after checking in to an extended stay hotel, and your grocery list includes fly fogger, ant bait, 409, and bleach.

No, chasing your dreams ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes there’s dirt, grime, bugs, or worse!

Like the quote from Danielle Laporte below says…

“Following your intuition ain’t always an act of grace — it can be a total grind. You will have to burn things. You might sweat, toil and dig dig dig to do what you know must be done. Following your intuition might call on you to do the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life.”

In my case, I had to scrub, scrub, scrub just to make my husband and I’s hotel room livable when we arrived to Texas last year.

My Australian Co-pilot
My Australian Co-pilot

In honor of the completion of my second book, today’s post is one I resurrected from the email archives to share the lessons gained during our cross country move, including similar insights that seem to be occurring all over again recently, in hopes that they will serve you as you make YOUR barrel racing dreams come true!

We began our incredible voyage on February 7th, 2013 when we left frigid Wyoming in the rear view, and with a caravan including a rig with three head of horses, an affectionate Aussie riding shotgun, and another rig with a Pontiac on a flatbed, we headed south – to stay.
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Moving Forward with the 2013 TOP 15 NFR Barrel Racers

Moving Forward with the 2013 TOP 15 NFR Barrel Racers

When asking the top 15 NFR barrel racers what it takes to keep their equine athletes going strong, you’d expect 15 different answers. However, if there’s one thing nearly all of rodeo’s leading ladies would agree on – it’s that the secret is not necessarily an expensive gadget, a supplement, or a certain type of body therapy – it’s in simply KNOWING your horse.

While physically supporting our horses IS often done through a combination of the means mentioned above, nothing can compete with a high level of awareness on our part. Paying attention to the tiniest details and changes in our horse’s attitude, behavior, movement and performance can help us detect small problems before they become much larger, and sometimes even irreversible.

On the other hand, while we don’t want to become hypochondriacs, or worry incessantly, when we educate ourselves on what to look for, and understand which problems are worthy of concern, AND know our horse’s like the back of our hand, not only do we set ourselves up to save time and expense (as well as our horse’s discomfort), but we also set ourselves up to potentially prevent physical problems from sidetracking us completely.

In today’s post, the top 15 not only share their advice for keeping an equine champion healthy on the road, but also tips for developing one to begin with – valuable information we can ALL take with us, as we step forward into a new year and use their shining example as fuel for our own barrel racing fire!
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Out the Gate with the 2013 Top 15 NFR Barrel Racers

Out the Gate with the 2013 Top 15 NFR Barrel Racers

In my book, and in the official record books, the 2013 National Finals Rodeo barrel racing proved to be a year like no other.

Not only did Taylor Jacob shatter the arena record by nearly a tenth, but Sherry Cervi captured some records of her own with earnings totaling $303,317 for the year, the fastest combined time (138.15 seconds) over ten rounds, as well as an average win, and ultimately, a fourth world title.

I’m know I’m not the only one who especially enjoys the NFR opening ceremonies and grand entry.

However, thanks in large part to modern technology, hardworking people behind the scenes, and the top 15 themselves, we were ALL given an up close and personal look into the lives and times of the rodeo’s leading ladies – which was a BIG PART of what made the barrel racing so exciting and inspirational.

In today’s post, we take a look back at 2013 as the top 15 share their most memorable learning experiences and achievements. This insider’s view provides an opportunity to not only learn, but also be even more inspired by the human and equine athletes alike.

Here at BarrelRacingTips.com, we extend a HUGE heartfelt “THANK YOU” to the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, and to the ladies listed below not only for making professional barrel racing possible, and even more fun and exciting to watch, but for planting seeds of desire in us all to take our own barrel racing to new heights in 2014, and beyond.
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LIVE from the NFR – Q&A Interview with Michele McLeod

Sometimes, you just KNOW a champion when you see one. That’s how I felt when I first met Michele McLeod at the 2013 NFR.

Michele has an enthusiastic groundedness about her. She exuded genuine positivity and humble confidence – no doubt a huge part of what makes her a force to reckon with in the arena.

It just so happens that Charlie Cole of High Point Performance Horses has a very good eye for talent. Not only did he see it in Michele, but in special young black stallion that first turned his head at the 2012 AQHA World Show.

Heather Smith and NFR Barrel Racer, Michele McLeod
Heather Smith and NFR Barrel Racer, Michele McLeod

According to this article in Rodeo News, Charlie stated, “I texted my business partner and said I saw an amazing horse just run. The next day I watched the finals and the way he worked I just knew he was a special horse. He used himself well and had explosive power away from the barrels and accelerated his way to the next one. He kept his feet moving around the barrel.”

Long story short, this incredible horse, rider and owner trio joined forces and resulted in a fairy tale year for everyone – ultimately resulting in a #3 qualification spot for the National Finals Rodeo with $109,591 in earnings.

Although a hardworking and successful barrel horse trainer and jockey for many years, until recently, Michele McLeod wasn’t exactly a household name. Until 2013, she had chosen to stick fairly close to home. However, when an incredible partnership (and an incredible horse) presented itself – it only made sense to jump (run) at the opportunity, and hit the road!
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Train Like an Athlete – WIN Like a Champion! Fitness Tips from the Top 15

Train Like an Athlete - WIN Like a Champion!  Fitness Tips from the Top 15

In today’s video (filmed live at the NFR!), I’ve shared a summary of tips the top 15 barrel racers offered when asked “How do you stay physically and mentally fit with all the difficulties of rodeo life?

There were definitely some common threads in their answers, however I felt as though Shada and Sydni’s every word on this topic were also worth sharing in print…

SHADA BRAZILE: “Physically, I have pretty much been adapted to the rodeo lifestyle. I run every chance I get, I run bleachers. We spend a lot of emphasis on horses physical condition and it’s equally important for us to be in shape, and have a strong core to ride them the way we need to.

As far as mentally I thought I understood the mental pressure of competing watching Trevor, there are so many ups and downs I really didn’t understand how to compete when you had to win. I really don’t think you can understand it until you have been there. What really helps me is to go to the arena before I run and envision my run.”

SYDNI BLANCHARD: “I stay gluten free, which allows me to cut out wheat, barley and rye and allows me to eat more meat, vegetables and fruit. Physically, I work out every day; we have a gym at the home and I try and keep the same schedule on the road which gets hard.

I make sure I do cardio every day, so I will either run stairs or run the bleachers at rodeos or I have a jump rope that I keep in my tack compartment, so every time I open my tack I will jump rope real quick.

Just things like that you have to do, it’s hard, you are an athlete and you have to treat your body like you are one. You just have to ask yourself, how bad do you want it?”

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