Monday, August 31, 2009

Michigan Cowgirl Natalie Overholt Goes On the Record

In July, Natalie Overholt dominated a field of some of the toughest rodeo competitors in the country at the Ellicottville, New York, IPRA rodeo. Calling Burr Oak, Mich., home, Overholt has spent much of her life up and down the rodeo circuit. Not just a competitor, she trains most of her own horses and has a lot of wisdom to show for it. In this five part series on this multiple time International Finals Rodeo qualifier who's currently sitting in the top 20 in the IPRA World Rankings, Overholt talks about her own riding, training and ethical philosophies, plus she touches on some extras that help her get down the road each week. A rodeo cowgirl by trade, Overholt has made a life and a career out of living on the road.

When did you start running barrel horses?
I started riding and doing peewees at horse shows since before I can remember. I got my first “fast” pony when I was four or five. I got my first barrel horse when I was nine and entered my first rodeo at nine.

Who taught you to ride?
Mostly my dad and older sisters and brother. They just put me on a horse and said, “go.”

Why barrel racing, instead of anything else?
That is what I grew up doing and seems to be what I’ve always stuck with. I also like breakaway and team roping but I don’t do it very often.

What has been your biggest accomplishment to date on the back of a horse?
Probably having to learn how to ride a bunch of different horses over the years.

Do you hold any arena records?
I think I hold the arena record at Crossroads Arena in Cloverdale, Ind. In 1991 I set the arena record at the Northeast Regional finals in Wilmington, Mass., but have no idea if it still holds.

What horse have you had the most success on?
Mr Liberty Bob - He was a very fast and talented bay gelding I ran when I was 9 to 14 years old. I won a lot of rodeos on him and qualified for the IFR 2 times, won the average at IFR 22 and won the Northeast region and many other accomplishments.

What is the biggest check you’ve ever taken home in a single weekend?
Around $2000

What does your family think of your rodeo life?
Not sure what they think. I think they wish I would stay closer to home more often and get more colts rode.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Michele Dibert on Her Own Riding and Ethics - Part 5 of 5

Riding and Ethics
How much time do you spent reviewing your runs and going over what you did wrong or right?
I usually know what I did wrong when I come out! I try not to spend too much time on what I have done wrong but what I need to do to make it right the next time!

Who do you look to most for advice?
Some good friends…Roger Grow, Kelsey Rice, Shirley Blauser, and Mike Boone.

What do you do to practice on your older horses if you’re having a problem?
It’s usually not him but me that has the problems!

What do you do best riding-wise?
Hanging on!

What do you or have you struggled with the most while riding?
Keeping my hands down!

What rules do you play by? Any ethics you try to follow when it comes to doing what it takes to win?
You always want to win but you need to wish others Good Luck and tell them Congratulations if they win! I just want a clean run and if I get the win that is a big plus!

What veterinary technique has served you best (i.e. hock injections, Legend, shock wave therapy, etc.)?
Hock & coffin injections and Conquer liquid

Monday, August 24, 2009

Michele Dibert - Important Extras - Part 4

Who are your hauling partners?
I have a great support group that I haul with…my daughter, Landon, Kelsey, Shirley, Grows, Altmans, & Brackens. I would consider a bunch of my IBRA members though to be my hauling partners.

What is your favorite memory of life on the road so far?
Just about every trip made down the road with the horses is a memory! I love my trips to the
East IBRA Nationals though.

When you are at a barrel race, who else’s run do you make sure you watch and why?
My daughter’s runs for sure and there are so many others that I hate to miss someone. I’m always there to support my friends to cheer them on!

What type of truck and trailer do you drive and why?
My truck I love, it’s a 2007 Southern Comfort Chevy Duramax daully…it is so comfortable and it runs super! I have an Exiss three horse with living quarters but that may change in the future, I need something bigger!

What’s the worst thing that has ever happened on the road?
Two flat tires within a half hour on the trailer! We also got held up for a few hours on the way home from TN from a bad accident.

Where is the farthest you’ll travel for a barrel race?
The farthest South I have gone is TN and West would be Missouri but would love to go out West to run or even down into Texas.

How often do you take time off?
My work schedule is Wed-Sat so I have to take a good many Saturdays off.

How long do you condition a horse before you run it?
I try to ride at least three to four times a week. I like turning horse out too so they can play and be horses!

Any superstitions/habits before running?
Well I usually give my horse some Rescue Remedy and I take some myself. I do this everytime and it seems to be working. I also stay away from the pen until it’s my turn to run.

What type of hat do you wear?
I have a couple different kinds but I like Bailey & Resistol.

What kind of saddle do you ride?
Can’t ride in anything but my Bob Marshall.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekend Review - Bullride Mania @ Greensburg, Penn.

We'll continue with our series on Michele Dibert Monday, but today it's time for a weekend review of the Bullride Mania at Greensburg, Penn. The first rodeo at the Westmoreland County Fair in years, Dave Martin's Bullride Mania drew in a huge and lively crowd. On top of that, some of the BEST barrel racers in Western Pennsylvania pulled in to have local shoot-out style race.

What: Dave Martin's Bullride Mania - Bulls and Barrels only.

Who: Some of the best barrel racers in the area, but not too many from far away. 18 girls all together.

Fees: $50 cash only, one hour prior to the show.

Added Money: $300 plus 100 percent payback.

The Ground: When we pulled in, the ground couldn't have been worse. I groaned when I walked up to the arena to see huge clumps of mud, car parts and rocks all mixed in a sticky mess. The pen was bigger than almost any of Martin's usual patterns, and the arena was set up in an area where they usually do motocross. Two hours before the show started, the fair crew began working up the arena with three different tools. They also had people picking up huge rocks. They worked for nearly an hour, and when they were done, the arena was as close to perfect as it could get given the conditions. It wasn't too slick and it wasn't too deep as I had originally feared. Also, while we were warming our horses up, many of the barrel racers and Martin's Fly-By-Night Crew picked up rocks and metal parts from around the barrels to make sure it was as safe as could be. Two horses had major slips, but most of the seasoned rodeo horses that were there loved the ground and threw down some smoking runs.

Overall: This was one of the toughest, most competitive bulls and barrels I have ever, ever been to. With only 18 girls entered, at least 14 of those girls had a solid chance at winning the barrel race. The barrels were set very close to the fence, and the first barrel was set close to the timer. It was the kind of pen that you had to get going hard before you entered the pen and then push-push-push the entire ride. For as close as the barrel were to the fence, the crowd and the bucking shoots, though, few people knocked.
The long runs were really great to get the most out of the horses. I've never seen a spread so close at one of Martin's rodeos. After talking to a few other competitors, we all agreed that at most of Martin's shows, if you run within half of a second of the winning time, you can usually pull a check. Here, however, almost all of the horses ran a 15 second time, with a 15.4 winning it and a 15.6 as the last hole to be paid. He paid four spots, with one 15. 4 (11-year-old Casey Allen), two .5s (Doreen Ulery and Bailey Angelo) and one .6 (Cathy Allen, Casey's mom and 2008 APRA Barrel Racing Champion). Everyone had respectable runs it seemed. This was the kind of pen that a good rodeo barrel racer on a good rodeo horse could have a lot of fun. Hopefully Dave Martin will get the Westmoreland County Fair on his schedule again next year, because word will get around that this was a great little rodeo and a great place for barrel horses.

Note: Usually, I run a photo section of the ground. My camera died this weekend, and I just purchased a new one today. Sorry there aren't any pictures!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Michele Dibert - Inside the Arena - Part 3

In the Arena

What type of ground do you prefer to run on?

Do your horses have any preference of ground or do you pick horses that can take anything?
My horse likes it deep!

Do you like big or small pens?
The horses I ride are big so I prefer big pens so they can stretch out.

Where is your favorite arena and why?
I have a couple favorites. Diamond 7 Arena is on the top of my list. The ground is always super there and the facility is nice. The stalls and arena is under one roof. They also have a nice warm up pen and hook-ups are a plus! I love going to Murfreesboro, TN to the Tennessee Miller Coliseum. For an out door pen I like Clyde Saddle Club, another big pen, and the ground is always good.

What arena have you had the most success in?
Diamond 7 Arena & Tennessee Miller Coliseum

What is going through your head when you’re running to the first?
You will laugh at this one, I always tell people I don’t remember my first, I usually have my eyes closed.

What are you thinking running home?
Go all the way to shut that clock off!

How do you approach a barrel (i.e. with a wide pocket, straight at it, etc)?
I have been taught to go pretty straight to the first.

Do you run with spurs, a hand whip, or nothing?
I use bumper spurs and I have an over & under that I may use from time to time.

What is your horse’s cue to turn a barrel (i.e. lift, leg pressure, etc.)?
I have gotten myself into trouble a lot this year by bumping my horse to soon to clue him so I’m trying to stay up and out of my sit and dropping my hands till I get by the barrel.

What is your favorite bit for a finished horse?
I’m using a Jim Warner gag right now that I really like!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Michele Dibert on Training - Part 2


Do you train your own horses?

No, I have a full time job so I don’t have time to train them.  They go to Grow’s Equine Services.

What philosophies do you stick to when working with a young horse?

I don’t want to get them burned out.  I want a horse that will be good for the future!  I feel you should take it slow with them.

What sort of horse body style do you prefer?

I like a tall horse built like a TB.

Any bloodlines you think are better than others?

I love my Dash For Cash but recently have fell in love with Quickstraws!

At what age do you expect one of your prospects to be ready to hit the rodeo trail?

I have started one recently and he has handled it well.  I just need to trust him to do his job and he will take care of me.

Any favorite techniques when putting a young horse on the barrels?

I haven’t had that many young horses but the one I have right now likes to pick his own pocket.  

What is your favorite training tool?

Draw reins!

What is your favorite bit for a young horse?

L & W chain snaffle

Weekday Review - BullRide Mania @ Dayton, Penn

With a rainstorm wetting down the arena about 20 minutes prior to show time, the ground was nearing perfection for as much as a little fair track could be. The crowd, though smaller than normal probably because of the rain, was really into the show and could be counted on for some great applause throughout the performance.

What: Dave Martin BullRide Mania/Rodeo - Broncs, barrels, one-go of bulls, steer wrestling and breakaway roping (though there weren't any entries in the GBA) at the Dayton Fair

Who: A good mix of great locals and BullRide Mania tour regulars

Fees: $50 cash only, one hour prior to show time

Added Money: $300 plus 100 percent payback

The Ground: The arena was set up inside the track on what looked the the dirt used for tractor pulling and the demo derby. There were plenty of car parts in the arena, but since Dave gave barrel racers time to warm up in the pen before the show, we had the opportunity to clear out as many parts as possible from around the barrels. The crew had dug up the ground, and for any horse that knew how to run on top of the ground instead of down into it, the dirt couldn't have been much better. For others, though, there weren't really any slips and falls. Moreover, it didn't seem to matter at all where you ran in the list of 22 girls - the ground didn't change and didn't develop big ruts, but the times didn't seem to speed up as the night went on, either. 

Overall: With the crowd being pretty into it, the show was a lot of fun for the barrel racers. Martin, who announces the rodeo, did a great job of letting the crowd know who was a local cowgirl so the crowd could really get behind them. As usual, grand entry was mandatory so a lot of horses that weren't rodeo horses really didn't like the loud music and the crowd. Being at a fair, the show presented a lot of challenges for some non-rodeo horses - like all of the amusement rides next to the arena, the stage and grandstands that horses had to run into, and the short runs with one stride between one and two and only three or four strides between two and three. It was the horses that could really turn and pick up and run between the barrels that got this rodeo done. 

Results: 1st - Lacy Barrett 13.0 - 2nd - Chelsea Toy 13.4 - 3rd - Doreen Ulery 13.6 
(Dave paid three more holes, and as soon as he posts his full results I will have a more detailed account [in the coming days!])

My run from Tuesday night.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Michele Dibert - PA State IBRA Director Goes on the Record - Part 1

Three weeks ago, Michele Dibert lit up the Pennsylvania IBRA Finals, brining in more money than any other horse and rider team that weekend. For the IBRA director who spent much of her time organizing and running the finals, this was no small feat. After her big weekend, Dibert spent some of her time talking to TheBarrelRacingBlog to answer questions on anything from her riding styles to her favorite truck and anything in between. In the first part of the series, Dibert discusses her riding background and her role as the state IBRA director. 


When did you start running barrel horses?

I actually haven’t ridden barrel horses that long.  I traded four minis for my first barrel horse in 1998.  His name was Nonstop Moon and he taught me a lot about barrel racing.  

Who taught you to ride?

My childhood neighbor taught me how to ride.  

Why barrel racing, instead of anything else?

I like the fact that your against the clock and it isn’t based on how much you spent for your outfit and tack.  It’s your horse, you, and that clock!  I love speed too!

What has been your biggest accomplishment to date on the back of a horse?

A good showing last year at Nationals!  Actually every clean run I feel is an accomplishment.

Do you hold any arena records?

At a local arena in my home town.  

What horse have you had the most success on?

There’s actually two that I have done well on, my gelding Mr. Castenada and my daughter’s gelding, Cody.  

What is the biggest check you’ve ever taken home in a single weekend?

2008 IBRA East Nationals

What does your family think of your barrel racing life?

They support me, they know it’s what I love to do, and my daughter hauls with me!

How long have you been the PA IBRA State Director?

4 years

What are your responsibilities?

Promoting IBRA, getting shows approved, answering questions that members have and giving them support, making sure rules are followed, keeping the PA IBRA website updated,  awards and planning a banquet, and numerous other things.  

Why did you decide to get involved with the IBRA?

It’s a super organization with good values.  The members are terrific and make you feel like your family.  I have made so many great friends being a part of this organization.

What do you like about the IBRA as opposed to other organizations?

On the most part everyone is there to have a good time and everyone is like family.

How much longer do you plan to work with the IBRA?

As long as I can!

What are the perks of the job?

Great friends!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Heads Up on a Great Local Barrel Race

This September 12 and 13 Simmon's Equestrian Center  will be holding the September Sizzler, giving out three Tod Slone saddles in a dramatic fashion. This show isn't just giving out saddles to the fastest, a huge amount of consistency will come into play for the show. 

To win the PeeWee saddle, kids and ponies have to qualify in the first Pee Wee class, and the top ten from that class get the chance to run for the saddle later in the day. 

The show committee also threw together a "Target Race," in which a rider choses one class plus his or her run in the 4D to combine to come up with a target time. The fastest combined time wins the saddle. For example, a rider could designate his or her run in the Warm Up Barrels to combine with his or her run in the 4D. Youth have the option of using their runs in the Youth class for the Target Race. 

Even more, the Open 4D has $2,000 added Saturday, and the Warm Up class even has $500 added. Winners in each division of the Open, Youth and place winners in the slot race will all receive trophy halters. 

Hats off to the organizers of this show to throwing together what already looks like a great barrel race!

View Ohio Arenas in a larger map

Friday, August 14, 2009

Good Luck n Leave 'Em Up!

For everyone headed out this weekend, best of luck where ever you're going. TheBarrelRacingBlog is headed to Ford City, Penn., for the Fort Armstrong Barrel Racing Association show in Memory of Bob Buchleitner.

Check back Monday morning for a weekend review of the show, complete with results, photo slideshows and even some video!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Part Three of

As the site's membership grows, Mike and Tracy have heard more and more success stories. His main goal through all of this is to make the website available to as many barrel racers across the country as possible, and so far, the feedback has been all good. 

Janet Vegter Kerr of Ohio uses to monitor her performance on her horse, FQH Rod's Fast Deal. The features built into the site that allow her to see how her bit changes and supplement changes give her a competitive edge, Kerr said. 

"For example, I always run in a junior cow horse bit outside and an "o" ring inside. Well, after using, I found that my horse actually worked better (clocked faster and left the barrels up) with a junior cow horse in some indoor pens and an "o" ring for some outdoor pens," Kerr said. "It's all stuff that when I was just writing it down in a journal I missed."

The graphs lay out changes in the horse's performance so clearly, Kerr said, that trends are hard to miss. 

The ability to see how mitigating factors affect horses' performances is another thing that Mike said sets apart. It's saved horses careers, Mike said, by showing what the horse's rider is changing rather than just trying to guess what the particular horse is doing wrong. 

Where's going from here? Mike and Tracy said that nobody knows for sure how many barrel racers exist in the U.S., but they know for sure they want a good portion of them using to help improve their horses' performances and values. Even more, the couple plans on expanding into other areas of equine competition, but those plans are still on the drawing boards. For now, Mike and Tracy will keep promoting their site at barrel racers all over the West.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Part Two of

The Mahans have built a site that has so far tracked over 1700 barrel races from across the country, with members from Texas to Pennsylvania and back. 

And they've done it all with close to no advertising. When the site was launched, Mike and Tracy placed one ad with Barrel Horse News, and the site took off from there. Some of their old contacts back in Ohio and Pennsylvania jumped on the bandwagon and began using the site, joining other barrel racers from across the country. 

Mike and Tracy set up a booth at the WBR Race for the Cash II in Ardmore, Okla., July 17 to do their first bit of public relations and advertising since the sites' launch. Since then, Mike said the site has been receiving new members daily.

One of the website's biggest draws is that it allows riders to track their own progress and set personal goals. 

"The encouragement you get from being able to focus against yourself is such a confidence builder," Tracy said. 

When competing against girls like Jordan Peterson, sometimes it is difficult to see progress when the average barrel racer watches the professionals break records every weekend. With, though, riders can watch their own progress and compete against themselves and the clock, rather than worry as much about what the top of the ranks are doing. 

On top of that, the website offers riders the chance to see the true value of their horse. Since the beginning of barrel racing, owners have only been able to anecdotally describe their horses' performance over time. This website allows for a complete performance history of any given horse and can be used when marketing the animal. 

"The heartbreak of this is that there are so many young ladies, professional cowgirls, with no history of their success," Mike said. "For the first time, we have that history."

The site can track barrel races back to 1999, so if you've saved any times, winnings or records, you can enter back-data into the site. The performance history of any horse can be made public and can be downloaded as a PDF and printed. It can be used as a sale flyer or can be saved as a reminder of a great horse. 

Horses with performance histories can also be submitted to the site's free classified section, where members can buy and sell horses using their complete resumes. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Part One of - A Look Into the Future of Barrel Racing

Mike Mahan spent years developing a computer system to help his wife Tracy improve her times in the International Barrel Racing Association. In the end, what Mike created changed both Tracy's barrel racing career and both of their lives.

The program Mike created is now known as, a website used by nearly 100 barrel racers across the country to monitor their horses’ performance.

Now based in Texas, began six years ago out of Mike’s desire to help Tracy improve in the arena. He created his own program to follow her times in each arena, monitor the winning times and to track outside factors like supplements, shoeing schedules and veterinary appointments.

“The real core of this was to see Tracy succeed,” Mike said. “This is for any
parent for their child or for any husband for their wife who wants them to

With the ability to track her progress and gain a better understanding of factors contributing to both good and bad runs, Tracy’s times began improving.

“It was through other people seeing it in the grandstands that this really took off,” Mike said. In the grandstands at IBRA Nationals in Murfreesboro, Tenn., one year, people saw Mike using his Tracks system and begged him to make it available for others to use.

Knowing how the system had helped Tracy, the couple set off to make TrackMyHorse available to barrel racers nationwide. Six years in the making, was released on the Internet in January 2009 and is now available for $12.95 per month.

The husband and wife team are not just Internet entrepreneurs, though; when they aren't running barrel horses or working on, Mike and Tracy are a private flight crew that fly across the country. They use their down time to run, and even more, they have begun setting up booths at large barrel races in Texas and Oklahoma to advertise the website.

In route to Glen Rose, Texas, for a Win $ More barrel race, Mike and Tracy discussed TrackMyHorse and all of its features with TheBarrelRacingBlog. Stick around the next three days to see what TrackMyHorse might have to offer, plus gain some insight into the lives of Mike and Tracy Mahan.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bleeders - Some Insight from Barrel Horse News

Last month's Barrel Horse News featured a lengthy feature on Exercise Induce Pulmonary Hemorrhaging, or bleeding from a horse's nose, generally after intense exercise.
The article covers EIPH with great detail, listing new treatments not yet widely used amongst barrel racers.
With the middle of summer heating up and our horses running hard each weekend, EIPH can factor into our horse's performances more than we'd like. Though the article says we still can't be sure why horses bleed, there's a lot we can do about it.
Listing Lasics, Premarin, Omega-3s, Seramune and nasal strips as some treatment options. Check out the rest of the article to get all of the great details!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Weekend Review - NBHA @ Hilltop Arena, Byesville, Ohio

With no big shows within hundreds of miles in each direction, the Ohio NBHA District 05 Money Maker at Hilltop Arena in Byesville, Ohio, drew in top barrel racers from Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. This Weekend Review will cover a ground review as well as some information on how the show ran. Results will be posted as soon as possible, but since the show ran until about 4 a.m., I didn't stay to get the results that night!

What: NBHA Ohio District 05 Money Maker

Fees: $3 grounds fee per horse, $10 non-member fee, $20 Warm-Up Barrels, $25 Open Barrels

Added Money: $525 in the Warm-Up, $400 in Youth, $1000 in Open

The Ground: It seemed to present a few challenges for a lot of horses. The grounds crew put a huge amount of effort into keeping it nice, with big drags after about every 100 horses or so. The third barrel was slippery for many horses as ruts quickly developed on its back side after just a few runs. The ground was mildly deep, and it seemed that horses with more slide did really well in it.

Overall: The good horses at this barrel race threw down! With too many great runs to watch, Hilltop Arena was home to some of the best runs I have seen this summer. With the best horses clocking in the low 15s, almost anything faster than an 16.5 looked great. If you hit into the 15s, you definitely were in great company! I'd say District 05 certainly made their money this weekend. For a one day show, this was just huge and had some of the toughest horses in the Northeast. The trailers went on forever and many people were left to park in the driveway and block others in. The weather was great, though, and the hospitality was tops!