d
Home Tips from the Pros Find A Barrel Horse Shop
Add Your Event Join our Mailing List
  Barrel Racing Tips from the Pros  
   
  Brought to you by these Sponsors.  
   
       
Platinum Performance findabarrelhorse.com  
 

 

  Name: Vana Beissinger Doolittle
Hometown: Edgefield, South Carolina
NFR Qualifications: 6
Joined WPRA In: 1988
Career Highlights: NFR Champion and 6 time NFR Qualifier, WPRA Reserve
World Champion, 2 time WPRA SE Circuit Champion, 2 time Calgary Stampede
Champion, WNFR Champion, and Rodeo Stock Contractor.

Websites: www.crosscreekrodeo.com and www.crosscreekrodeoranch.com

What the Pros Use
Bit: 3 piece Barrel Horse Delight
Pads: Contoured Wool - Tod Slone
Tack: Billy Cook saddles
Leg Protection: Bar F Galloping Boots
Feed: Strategy
Hay: Coastal and Alfalfa

Should you wear spurs? What are they for?
Spurs are associated with horsemanship, right along with bits and saddles. Yet,
there remains confusion in regard to their use in some riders’ minds. This “tip” is
an attempt to better understand spurs and discuss who should use them along with
when and how. I have observed great horsemen and women all of my life.
 
 

Whether they were English or Western riders, well over 90% of them rode with spurs. Beyond just looking cool, those riders understood the significant difference
that spurs can make in communicating effectively with their horse.

A few years ago,  I was addressing the use of spurs at a clinic, a participant was quick to say, “I sure don’t need spurs! My horse  goes fast!” This participant
misunderstood the primary reason for using spurs. Spurs are first and foremost used for lateral movement. Yes, it’s true, kicking a horse with both spurs might
cause him to go faster. However, that’s not the principal function of the spur. The specific, direct touch of a spur can be very effective in moving a horse’s body
parts, left and right, whether it is his shoulders, rib cage or hind end. Along with being a very specific cue, the spur will also help you reinforce a leg cue that a horse
might be ignoring. If your horse moves freely and willingly off your leg consistently without spurs, that’s great. Spurs however, will allow you to back up the
suggestion of leg pressure should your horse choose to ignore the cue.

Should you ride with spurs? My response would be, “Yes, as long as you can ride without gripping below your knees to stay on or inadvertently poke your horse with
the spurs unintentionally.” I see this way too often - a rider turning a barrel, “asking” their horse to turn the barrel tighter, but cueing the horse, unintentionally, to
move out with their spur or foot pressed in their side" (Picture 1).

Sometimes, a rider needs to lift the horse’s shoulder up and may use a spur to assist with the cue. This is done with exact timing and precision, as you see I am
doing in picture 2 (Picture 2).

In order to properly cue your horse you need to know where to correctly position your spur on your horse’s side. The angle of your foot is very important. Turning
your toe out and down will allow you to strategically place your spur right where you want it. There are three general areas on your horse’s side to place your spur.

1) Forward: Close to the front cinch. This area is most effective in moving your horse’s shoulders left and right.
2) Middle: Right where your leg naturally hangs. This moves your horse’s ribcage laterally as you would in a side pass.
3) Back: When you place your spur close to where the back cinch would lie, you are able to control your horse’s hindquarters in both directions.

While most barrel racers use spurs to elicit a faster response, the best riders know how important it is to use them properly. The key to using spurs correctly is
timing. Spurs are used to either initiate or advance a direct movement. If you use your spurs at the right time and in the right place, the horse will advance. If you
use them incorrectly, you can make the horse advance too much or you can make the horse lose his timing.

You will not achieve the full benefit of using spurs until your learn to turn your toe out & down, and can use each foot & leg separately for cues. Spurs should be
applied with steady pressure—pressing the spur into the horse’s side, not poking him. You can increase the pressure as necessary, but if you poke or jab the horse
he’s going to lurch or jump. Then you risk grabbing with your legs to hang on, and grabbing his mouth, too. That will simply scare your horse. Many western riders
“feather” their spurs, lightly rolling the spur along the horse’s side to maintain cadence.

If your horse has not yet become accustomed to spurs then you have the responsibility to introduce him to their effect without scaring him. You can even do this as
a ground exercise while holding the spur in your hand. Always be smooth. There is rarely a reason to poke your horse with the spur. Slowly pressing with your spur
and then releasing when the desired step is achieved will give you the best results. Horse’s respond to the relief of pressure. As with any training technique,
remember to be as firm as necessary, yet gentle as possible.

Spurs are not cruel or inhumane. No more than a bit in your horse’s mouth. When abuse takes place, it has little to do with the object and everything to do with the
handler. Great horsemen, and women, use spurs to refine maneuvers and develop higher degrees of subtle communication. With some clear direction, understanding
and practice, spurs can help you reach the next level on your horsemanship journey.

   

 

Name: Vana Beissinger Doolittle
Hometown: Edgefield, South Carolina
NFR Qualifications: 6
Joined WPRA In: 1988
Career Highlights: NFR Champion and 6 time NFR Qualifier, WPRA Reserve
World Champion, 2 time WPRA SE Circuit Champion, 2 time Calgary Stampede
Champion, WNFR Champion, and Rodeo Stock Contractor.

Websites: www.crosscreekrodeo.com and www.crosscreekrodeoranch.com

What the Pros Use
Bit: 3 piece Barrel Horse Delight
Pads: Contoured Wool - Tod Slone
Tack: Billy Cook saddles
Leg Protection: Bar F Galloping Boots
Feed: Strategy
Hay: Coastal and Alfalfa

Recovering from horse injuries, how long does it actually take?
One year while competing at Santa Maria, California in the finals, my horse Jet tore
his Check Ligament. Needless to say he was done for the remainder of that year.

Normally a 4 - 6 week "time off" period doesn't affect the level of cardiovascular

 
 
fitness your horse already has. However, it does seem to compromise the horse's skeletal system. Horses that have been laid off for more than six (6) weeks
should be brought back slow with a conditioning program.  It only takes a month (exercising 5 days/week) to start developing cardiovascular fitness but the effects
on tendons and bones may take much longer.


So how does a horse's bone adapt to conditioning and training?
The bones can strengthen or become weak in response to forces applied to them. Horses that are prescribed stall rest will have a lower bone density than horses
allowed access to exercise.  When these horses are gradually brought back, their bone strength will return. This adaption process is slow compared to the rate of
cardiovascular fitness gain. Meaning, horses become physically able to work at a level beyond their bone's ability to cope with the work.

So with this said, Jet's total recovery time took ten (10) months .... Six (6) months of letting his check ligament heal and four (4) months of slow conditioning work.
During this time period these workouts not only built his cardiovascular system but would give his bones time to gradually regain their strength as well.

We all know how the demands of barrel racing can be hard on the horses body. These horses are athletes and this is why it is so important to bring them back slow
and give them the time they need to recover.

Something my father taught me that I believe whole heartily is "you can't get too far away from nature." I've seen this stand true many times over. With new
technology to help horses and the supplements aimed to help with the recovery process, we still need to give Nature a chance to do its own work..... Just give it
time.
   
     
Hydrotherapy Spa Treatments are very affective in treating fractures, tendon and
ligament injuries, healing of wounds, and bone damage such as shin soreness.
Slow and relaxed work is important when bringing horses back from injuries
   

  Name: Vana Beissinger Doolittle
Hometown: Edgefield, South Carolina
NFR Qualifications: 6
Joined WPRA In: 1988
Career Highlights: NFR Champion and 6 time NFR Qualifier, WPRA Reserve
World Champion, 2 time WPRA SE Circuit Champion, 2 time Calgary Stampede
Champion, WNFR Champion, and Rodeo Stock Contractor.

Websites: www.crosscreekrodeo.com and www.crosscreekrodeoranch.com

What the Pros Use
Bit: 3 piece Barrel Horse Delight
Pads: Contoured Wool - Tod Slone
Tack: Billy Cook saddles
Leg Protection: Bar F Galloping Boots
Feed: Strategy
Hay: Coastal and Alfalfa

Running in the mud can be challenging to the riders and their horses. It's very
important to have good leg protection on your horse when competing. But leg
protection doesn't do any good if it soaked with water, weighed down with mud and
slid down on your horse's leg where it's not supposed to be. If competing in the mud
 
 
or sloppy arena conditions, I never put my regular Bar F products on my horse's legs. Instead I wrap my horse's legs with Brace Bandage Rubbers, made out of
neoprene, and wrap CoFlex over the bandages to keep them on. These bandages are not thick or bulky, easy to clean after a race and come in sheets, so they can be
trimmed with scissors to fit your horse's leg length, front and back. 

The neoprene and CoFlex does not absorb water or moisture, therefore does not weigh the wraps down.  They will stay where you put them if wrapped correctly. To
wrap a horse's leg correctly you want to pull your wrap to the inside of the horse. So if wrapping horse's left legs, you want to wrap and pull counter clockwise, and

clockwise on horse's right legs. I always start a 1/4 of the way down horse's leg and wrap down, making sure to covering the ankle and fetlock, then back up.
Remember, with any type of booting, the ankle is mostly what holds the boot up and keeps it from sliding down. So make sure when you fasten a protection boot on
or wrap a horse's leg, put a little more pull pressure directly above the ankle. I also use a Gum Ribbed Rubber pull on bell boot (over reach boot) when competing in
the mud. Again, I don't have to worry about it getting heavy from the mud and coming off. 

You can find Brace Bandage Rubbers at Big Dee's Tack and Vet Supplies.  You can see from the photo of Jet in the mud at Cloverdale, I am using the bandages.  The
photo from Cheyenne shows using the rubber gum bell boot.  
   
     
Vana at Cloverdale, BC, Canada
Vana and Jet at Cheyenne
   
     


   

  Name: Carol Goostree
Hometown: Verden, Oklahoma
NFR Qualifications: 3, was the regular season champion in 1978 and World
Champion in 1979
.
Joined WPRA In: 1978
Career Highlights: Probably watching several of my horses make it to the NFR.
interesting facts: I love horses, and that’s what my whole career has been
about. The horse is always first with me. It doesn’t matter how much money is up
or anything else.

What the Pros Use
Feed and Hay:
Vitality by Nutrena and Equine Senior by Purina, and Alfalfa and Bermuda grass hay.
Supplements: Silver Lining Herbs
Saddle: I have both a Shiloh and a Martin.
Pad: Classic Equine Felt.
Bit: Carol Goostree bits. One of my favorites the long-shank lifter with a chain
mouthpiece. I use it more in training than in competition.

Tack: I never saddle a horse without putting on Classic Equine splint boots.

How do you know you’re using the correct bit for your horse?
The horse is happy, and so am I! If the horse is constantly chewing or
flipping his head, he’s trying to tell you he doesn’t like the bit. If he doesn’t respond
to it and doesn’t do what you ask him to do, that’s a sign that he doesn’t like
it — and you don’t like it either. If they respond to it and they’re comfortable with
it, and you’re comfortable with it, then, usually, the bit works.
   
Carol and her current top horse, Miss D.
Photo By: Michael Mahaffey

For more information on this tip please visit

     
Carol and Dobre, the horse that took her to the 1979 WPRA World Championship.
Photo By: Carol Goostree
Carol continues to train and run barrel horses.
Photo By: Carol Goostree
   

  Name: Molly Powell
Hometown: Stephenville, Texas
NFR Qualifications: 10
Horse: My main horse now is Midas.  He is a 7 year old palomino gelding that my mom trained.
Joined WPRA In: 1986
Career Highlights: NFR Champion, Calgary Stampede Champion, and Olympic Gold Medalist .
interesting facts: Joined the WPRA at age 10.

What the Pros Use
Feed and Hay:
Total Equine, Bermuda and Alfalfa Hay.
Supplements: Support One by Pureform. I also add a fat supplement to his Total Equine feed.
Saddle: Molly Powell Freedom Fit by Reinsman.
Pad: Molly Powell Freedom Fit Balance Pad by Reinsman.
Bit: Molly Powell Bits by Reinsman.
Tack: Molly Powell X-Treme Series by Reinsman.

Question: You are an endorsee of Reinsman Equestrian Products and have had the opportunity to
specifically design your own saddle with Reinsman, what are some of the factors you look for when
designing and choosing a saddle to buy? 
   
   
Answer: Here's something that I have been considering…. a saddle can influence your style of barrel racing! I want my horses to turn their barrels with their hind
end up underneath them and I also want their weight to be balanced and not have them drop to their front end in a turn. I believe that when a rider leans too far
forward, more of the total weight from the horse and rider will inevitably shift onto the horse's front end. When a horse has more weight on his front end, he will
have a tendency to have sloppier turns. Basically this unnatural balance handicaps his athletic ability.  A horse's true power comes from his hind end. 

When I look at a saddle, I will first take the stirrup leather and swing it back and forth to see how far back my legs are going to be allowed to fall behind me. I don't
want my legs to fall behind me because when they do, my upper body will more than likely fall forward from the inertia when we approach a turn, and I will handicap
my horse from having a great turn. 

Another thing that I am picky about in a saddle is having the correct seat size. I estimate that about 75% of riders are riding saddles that are too big for them.
When a rider sits in a seat that is too big, their ability to ride that saddle well is very much compromised because of the placement of the fenders in relation to the
rider's hips. If your seat is too big, you will have a tendency to sit back on your pockets and your legs will be slightly ahead of you (this becomes more apparent when
your stirrups are adjusted to the correct lengths and not too long).  In a run, when you go to stand up in your stirrups, you will have a tendency to lose your balance
and fall forward because your legs are not supported. Again, the result will many times be a less consistent or correct turn.  I judge the correct seat size for
myself by measuring the distance from my thigh muscle to the swell. I do not want my thigh to touch the swell, but the distance should not be over one inch.
Somewhere in the middle is my comfort zone. When I have the correct seat size and stirrup length, I will notice that my shoulders, hips and feet are aligned.   This
balance helps me to minimize the shifting of my body weight approaching and leaving a turn. I can lean my upper torso forward or backward during a run. 

If I ever feel like I am not riding my horse to the best of my ability, I strongly evaluate my saddle.  More than likely, when I have the correct seat and stirrup
alignment, I will ride better. 

     
   

  Name: Nellie Williams
Age: 24
Hometown: Cottonwood, California
NFR Qualifications: 1
Horse: Reba’s Smokey Joe, aka "Blue Duck"
Pedigree: Mr. Bar Truckle X Azul Chips Mouse
Joined WPRA In: 2007
2011 Highlights: Getting invited to the Calgary Stampede.
Career Highlights: Making the NFR in 2010.
Goals for 2012: I want to stay closer to home and go to more circuit rodeos so
that I can focus on younger horses.   

What the Pros Use
Feed and Hay:
Grass Hay and LMF Feed
Supplements: Platinum CJ
Saddle: Reinsman X-Series Barrel Racer
Pad: Best Ever Pads
Bit: Reinsman’s Molly Powell Money Maker Series
Tack: Reinsman X-Series Tack
Leg Protection: Pro Choice
   
   
Question: There are so many different arenas for barrel racing, is there a trick to staying consistent in all different types of arenas?

Answer: When I first started going to a lot of rodeos I was really out of my comfort zone in different parts of the country.  The arenas in different areas can be a
lot different from what you are used to running in at home.  Experience goes a long way when you are rodeoing because when you have been somewhere previously
you know what to expect.  However, there is a lot to be said for being prepared.  What I learned while I was traveling a lot is that it really pays to show up to the
rodeo before you are up so that you can watch the barrel race to get a game plan.   I will look at the position of the gate, whether it is a middle, alley, left-handed,
or right-handed gate.  This helps to gauge how you need to set your horse up for the first barrel.  I will look at the distance between the gate and the electric eye to
see if I need to move up before I start my run or if I need to be running before the gate in order to cross the eye at a full run.  I look at the size of the arena and the
distance between the fences and the barrels to figure out how to approach each barrel.  This can depend on if your horse is a free runner or if he is a ratey horse. 
When I am at a new place I try to concentrate on measurements and distances instead of cosmetic stuff like color of barrels and color of fences and banners on the
walls because unless you are on a colt or really green horse then stuff like that doesn’t seem to affect the run as much as having your horse set up right for the
run. It is better to plan these things before your run because you only have a few seconds during your run to think of these things.  The better prepared you are for
each run the more consistent you and your horse will get in all types of arenas.
     
   

  Name: Sharon Camarillo
Hometown: Oakdale, California
Horses: Chile and Jewel are both used to teach horsemanship and barrel racing skills at her clinics.
Career Highlights: Intercollegiate National Champion, NFR Qualifier, Inducted into the National
Cowboy Hall of Fame and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, accomplished trainer and
clinician .
In Her Own Words: “In order to study horsemanship one needs an attitude of compassion,
awareness, patience, forgiveness and confidence.”
Interesting Facts: Sharon has been a guest at the White House and has performed in front of
President Reagan.

What the Pros Use
Bits, Pads and Tack: Sharon uses Reinsman Bits, Pads and Tack designed specifically for her. 
She has many different lines of Reinsman product that she recommends depending on the horse and
rider. 
saddle: Designed by Courts Saddlery
horse care and nutrition: Farnam products

Question: You put a big emphasis on horsemanship at your clinics, what is the importance of horsemanship when a person starts barrel racing?
   
Answer: One of my favorite quotes is by Vince Lombardi a famous football coach.  He said, “Winning is accomplished in the fundamental phase, not the execution
phase.”  It is the same way in barrel racing.  I believe that a winning run comes through preparation, practice, and experience.  When I was competing a lot, my runs
were consistent runs that sometimes weren’t the fastest runs.  This strategy always won me consistent checks instead of a first place check here and there. To
have consistent runs you have to have a horse that has a good foundation because when you add speed it makes everything harder.  In an event like barrel racing
speed is important but if the horse doesn’t know how to handle the speed then everything can fall apart quickly.  So at my clinics I really work on horsemanship so
that the rider understands why and how to make a successful barrel run not just once in a while but every time they enter the arena.     
     
   

  Name: Britany Fleck
Age: 28
Hometown: Mandan, North Dakota
NFR Qualifications: 1
Horse: 11 year old mare, Dasher Dude, aka “Rootie”
Pedigree: Sire: Texas High Dasher / Dam: April Dell Dude
Joined WPRA In: 2008
2011 Highlights: Champions at San Antonio Livestock Show and the Cloverdale Invitational Rodeo
in Cloverdale, British Columbia.
Career Highlights: 2011 NFR qualifier, 2011 Cloverdale, British Columbia Invitational Champion,
2011 San Antonio Champion, 2010 finished 17th in NFR standings, 2010 CFR qualifier, 2009 Badlands
Circuit Champion, Numerous amateur titles in both barrel racing and all-around.
In Her Own Words: “As a professional barrel racer, I feel one of the most important aspects to
success is setting goals. Each year, I set a realistic, but challenging goal to strive for throughout the
rodeo season.”
Interesting Facts: First Barrel Racer from North Dakota to make it to the NFR.
Goals for 2012:  “My goals for next year are to make both the CFR and the NFR, but ultimately to
have a healthy horse so that I can continue to make a living at what I love to do.”

What the Pros Use
Feed and Hay: I feed Omelene 200 mixed with Summer Heat
Supplements: Oxymax and Platinum CJ
   
Pad: Impact Gel
saddle:
Double J
Bit:
Short Shank Sherry Cervi
Tack:
Reinsman X-series Tack
Leg Protection:
Professional Choice Protective Boots

Question:
The Thomas and Mack arena in Las Vegas is a very small set up for barrel racers, do you do anything different in small arenas that you wouldn't
necessarily do in bigger arenas?

Answer: When competing in a smaller arena like the Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas, it is necessary for Rootie and me to step up our game. Rootie is a very ratey
horse, which can make a small pattern very challenging.  When riding a ratey horse in a small pen, be sure to always look to your pocket and past the barrel. I drive
my horse up into her turns as hard as I can, while always looking at my spot and never at the barrel. Horses tend to shut down quicker indoors and need the extra
help to keep running through their turns.  It works best for me to stay up riding over my horse a stride or two further before I sit than I normally would if I were
outside in a big pattern. The second I sit and pick up on my inside rein, Rootie sits and turns. My tactics with her have worked in similar situations and my horse and I
have been very successful in small indoor pens like Rapid City, San Antonio and Omaha. In Vegas, I plan to ride my horse like I have all year and treat each run like a
separate rodeo.
     
   

Where 2 Barrel Race
10010 Seals Trail Prairie, MS, 39756
Phone: 601-955-8489
Email: where2barrelrace@att.net
A Division of Ride West Marketing, LLC
© 2009 Where 2 Barrel Race
© Terms of Use Web Design by and All Materials © Ranch House Designs, Inc.
Shop
Find a Barrel Horse
Home Tips from the Pros