I'm trying to put together an interactive map of barrel racing arenas in Ohio, and I need your help! If you have pictures of any arenas in Ohio or know of any arenas that I've omitted, shoot me an email at email@example.com.
Time: Had to get there at 5:30 to pay fees, but show started late - should have started at 7 p.m.
Fees: $40 for barrel racers, $50 per team for ropers.
Added Money: None - 80 percent payback.
The Ground: DEEP. Although the weekend was completely dry, the ground crew plowed the arena over repeatedly and the ground was so deep! My barrel horse came out of the arena with her bell boots turned upside down because of how deep she had to dig.
Overall: The rodeo moved pretty slowly, so by the time they got to the barrel race, we could only rely on the arena's super poor lighting to see the barrels. The first barrel was decently lit, but the second and third were in pure darkness. I had to ride my 16-year-old horse like a colt to find them, even though she was still trying.
The gateman kept the gate closed, which was a nightmare for my old horse that is used to hunting an alleyway. Needless to say, we crashed into the gate as fast as can be because the timer was a panel-length away from the outgate.
Results: I won it with a 16.2. H&H only paid one hole, which was good news for me but bad news for everyone else. It paid $256 to win it.
In team roping news: I travel with my boyfriend, Corey Rose, and his partner, Alicia Pottmeyer, who team roped. They ran the team roping after the barrels. The bottom end of the arena was in complete darkness, and the steers darted erratically back and forth across the arena. NOT the place to team rope. Corey's steer ducked underneath his horse's legs when he was heading and Alicia's jumped under her's when she was healing. It was a rough time for those two, and not the happiest ride home for me!
I have some rough video that I will put up here later, in case anybody is interested in seeing what the pen looked like!
As barrel racing continues to grow and the Quarter Horse continues to dominate the sport's biggest events, the common perception is that the breed is the ultimate barrel horse.
While the breed clearly is at the top of the rankings year after year, another breed - the Appaloosa - is commonly overlooked in its ability to be competitive.
The Appaloosa, originally used by the Nez Perce Indians in the northwestern U.S., is often mischaracterized as a wild, stubborn or crazy breed by many in the barrel racing industry. In what a spokesperson for the Appaloosa horse club calls "egregious misnomers," the Appaloosa has been painted as a difficult-to-train breed.
Appaloosa History - a Story of Native American Abuse
Wars of the 19th Century. What were once the fastest horses in the West were forcibly bred to draft horses in order to force the Nez Perce into agrarian lifestyles. The Appaloosa stallions were all shot, nearly wiping out the breed all together.
As the breed reemerged in the early 20th Century, Appaloosas were bred with Quarter Horses and thoroughbreds, developing into the breed we know today.
Today, man solid Appaloosas fly under the radar at large barrel races nationwide. Ed Henle, a barrel racer from Hookstown, Pa., competed throughout much of his youth career on a sorrel ApHC mare.
"She was smart and extremely athletic," Henle said of his old horse, HR Second Wind, who owns an ApHC world record in the Figure 8 Stake Race. "Even when her knee was the size of a softball, she still ran hard. She had a ton of heart."
As the only horse in the history of Pennsylvania's 4H to win all three contest events in the same year, "Windy" also holds multiple youth and open world and national titles in the ApHC.
Henle is now running SF Who Shot Doc, a Quarter Horse, and consistently finishing in the 1D of major IBRA events. He's also training a five year old Appaloosa, who he considers very easy to train and very smart.
"I'm not sure if the Appaloosa's have the extra gear that quarter horses have," Henle said, "but they (Appaloosas and quarter horses) are both very competitive."
Henle agreed that Appaloosas have gotten a bad reputation and that people are misguided in thinking that Appaloosas are stubborn.
"Each horse can be as stubborn as any other," Henle said. "Appaloosas are no different."
Merida McClanahan, head of marketing for the ApHC, attributed the bad reputation Appaloosas partly towards the assumption that any bad horse with spots is an Appaloosa. She said many of these horses are grade horses or even ponies but are perceived to be Appaloosas.
Too Hot and Too Crazy?
Aside from being seen as stubborn, Appaloosa's also have the reputation of being
wild and crazy. Henle said much of this reputation could come from the fact that in actual ApHC events, horses run head-to-head against one another in a bracket-style barrel race, where
they could run over and over again until all other competitors are eliminated.
Horses must wait
at a starting line and wait for a green light, similar to that of a drag racer. This hypes up many horses and makes Appaloosas that would otherwise be calm more nervous.
When these horses are taken to open barrel races, they are sometimes perceived as more wild.
The Answer - ?
In the end, Appaloosas and quarter horses must be judged by each individual horse's performance and not by the breed alone, McClanahan said. The Appaloosa, with its Quarter Horse and thoroughbred breeding, is capable of competing with these horses.
"Its about the match between horse and rider," McClanahan said. "The training of any of the stock breeds makes the difference."
I have both an AQHA mare and a ApHC mare and have experienced success with both breeds.
Photos courtesy of WikiCommons.
Photo of "Modern Appaloosa" is Tuff Trader - ApHC 10 yr old gelding.
This week's bit (I use the term 'week' very loosely) is another that I didn't think I would ever own and certainly didn't think would work on my seasoned barrel horses - Sharon Camarillo's Traditional Chain Bit.
The bit is nothing fancy. A trainer I work with went to one of Camarillo's clinics, taking a 12-year-old mare that she had been having a hard time getting a first barrel on. The mare had been shaking her head and running a half-stride past the first barrel. Camarillo suggested the bit change, and the woman and her horse haven't looked back yet. She's been using this bit in rodeos and barrel races for the past five years, and its been all good news.
I switched to the bit on my barrel/pole horse after she started diving on poles just a few weeks before the 2006 Congress. I needed something that I could really hold her shoulder up with but would not completely stop her. I tightened the curb chain, and even though I rarely use a shank, I found that this bit really worked with my hands. Two years later, its all I need to get through a pattern.
The bit has enough pull in the event that I end up past a barrel and need to pull my horse around, but it also has the perfect lift to keep her shoulders square going into a barrel. Like any bit, I've found that if I over-use it on the back side of a barrel, my mare shakes her head and over-bends. Obviously, I shouldn't do that, but it happens.
Around the roping arenas, I've noticed a lot of team ropers also using different variations of this bit. Team ropers with hotter horses seem to use this bit to give them the right amount of control before needing to switch to a higher port bit.
Looking at upcoming barrel races on barrelhorses.com, I stumbled across an event I know all-too-well: The All-American Youth Barrel Race in Jackson, Miss.
After a great year on my horse in 2001, my parents agreed to drive me to Mississippi for this event. If I remember, some 800 other kids ran there that year, and Talmadgeand Mike Green raised $25,000 in added money, with saddles given in every go in every division.
I was so excited - other than the Congress, this was the only "big" show I had ever run. It was the first time I had ever traveled further south than West Virginia for a barrel race, and unfortunately, the first time my horse had ever run in deep sand.
In the northern parts of the country, we find ourselves running in harder-packed dirt and clay mixes, sometimes with a bit of sand added. My horse had just slight rimmed shoes on, perfect for running in our northern dirt. BIG mistake.
In the first go, we wrapped one and two, but when we came around three, my horse's back end slipped right out from underneath her. She caught herself, jerked her joints up off the ground and ran home. We ended up in the 4D after all of that, and I qualified for the finals.
In the second go, Onyx couldn't turn at all. She wouldn't even get close to a barrel - completely unlike her. We just couldn't figure it out; I schooled all night in the practice pen but could not get a decent turn. The same thing happened in the finals the next day. At 14, I was devastated. I cried the whole 20-hour drive home.
When we got her home, she was nailing barrels where ever I took her. She won youth classes the whole month of July and never looked back.
Until August, when I noticed something just wasn't right with her back end. I took her to the vet, and low and behold, she had fractured her hip during that run in Mississippi and had been running on it ever since. Luckily, our vets at Fox Run Equine Center got us into a study for shock wave therapy , which healed her in about six months. She is still running today, with much thanks to Fox Run.
Moral of this story - BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU TRAVEL. I try to switch shoes depending on the ground at a particular time of year (much to the dismay of my shoer who thinks I'm a pain). When I'm heading down south like last weekend, I have pegs in my sidewinder shoes. In the good indoor arenas, I have a lot less grab with just a rim shoe. At right, the sidewinder.
Today I stumbled across a website for rodeo news across the country. Rodeo Attitude News calls itself the premiere rodeo website (which I can't quite verify), but it aggregates and produces industry news from the major associations - the WPRA, the PRCA and the PBR.
The website, which is a bit tough to read and get through because it has so much information, divides its pages up by association. It acts as an aggregate for different association's press releases, and brings them all together - featuring event coverage, stories on competitors and even entertainment. The top headline today came from a PBR press release about Ty Murray as a competitor on ABC's Dancing With the Stars.
It does provide some useful content, as it links to the association's pages. The site tries to highlight association event listings, but it seems to be a bit behind. That said, keeping up-to-date with any events within the rodeo/barrel racing industry can be trying at best, as promoters themselves tend to be slow at disseminating information.
The site has a lot of great resources, like practice pen listings and a personnel directory. It features some multimedia content and even message boards, which seem to be building an online community, as the message boards are relatively active.
It focuses mostly on rodeos and barrel races West of the Mississippi, though. So, for those of us stuck in the Mid-West or Northeast, it's just a nice site to look at every once and awhile.
Sometimes, we all need to take the edge off. In barrel horses, that sometimes may come around more often than not. Instead of resorting to PromAce, which can be expensive and can have nasty side effects, I've found a product that is working wonders for a young horse I have - At Ease, made by Select the Best.
This young horse had never been off the farm when I bought her, and she was extremely nervous all the time. She had worried away all of her weight, and though she was eating bagfuls of Strategy, she couldn't pick up the weight. She would jump and kick in her stall, and no matter how much we rode her, she never got tired of pawing or screaming. We hauled her to shows and rodeos, and even though she rode fine, she acted like a weanling tied to the trailer.
So, in February, a friend gave me an old tub of At Ease powder that she had had for years and had never used. She just said she didn't know if it would help or not, but that it was worth a try. Desperate, I gave it a shot.
I gave her a tablespoon of At-Ease powder for four days before I took her anywhere, then gave her extra a few hours before we hauled. Within a few weeks, she was standing quietly at the trailer, picking up weight and not pawing when tied. She could concentrate on her barrels rather than the other horses, and her times changed dramatically.
At-Ease has Thiamine (B1), Pyridoxine (B6), Tryptophan (an amino acid) and Magnesium in its easy-to-feed powder, and my horse seems to not mind eating it. Before I started feeding it, I thought that maybe she was getting ulcers and I was really worried about her overall health. Now that she isn't fussing all of the time, though, I'm not so much worried about her stomach.
I know a lot of people use Ace to calm their horses down before competition, but this product takes the edge off without losing speed or performance.
Big Dee's carries it, and within Ohio can deliver it within one day.
I am just starting a new life in Boulder, Colo., with my dog, boyfriend and our three horses. I'm the assistant editor at Horse & Rider Magazine, where I do a little bit of everything – from writing the Conformation Clinic to making sure everyone else gets paid to updating our Facebook page.
I'm a barrel racer, and I also like to run a set of poles every once and awhile. On any given weekend, you can find me at a barrel race, rodeo or team roping. My significant other is a header, so when I give in and skip a barrel race I let him go rope!
I also really like to watch a great pleasure horse, reining horse or halter horse, and I love a great ride through the woods. (This is something I'm sort of giving up as I move to the high-desert/mountain region, so I should say that I do love a good ride through the mountains!)
I graduated from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in the Honors Tutorial College, and I do love my old college town of Athens, Ohio, with all of my heart. Originally, I'm from a small town called Vandergrift, Pa., and I have a wonderful loving family who all call Vandergrift home and whom I miss dearly.