Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dave Martin Announces His Finals Invitees

The 2009 BullRide Mania barrel racing finals (Nov. 21) invitees have been announced. This year, Dave Martin invited the winner of each stop on his tour plus former tour champions and place winners from his April 2009 Harrisburg event. $2,000 is added to the one-run rodeo finals with a $100 entry fee due via Visa or Mastercard by Oct. 31. 
The list of invitees includes: 
  7. LANIE JONES – TROYPA – 7/29

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Weekday Review - SEBRA Ashland, Ohio - Sept. 22

With a tiny pen and slick ground, only four out of ten barrel racers kept barrels up and finished the pattern at the SEBRA Bulls and Barrels in Ashland, Ohio. Ohio cowgirl Darlene Miller who has proved herself time and time again in small pens took home the win, while Alicia Pottmeyer took home the second place check at the Ashland fairgrounds in front of a large Tuesday-night crowd. 

(Note: Our camera couldn't capture the first place run, but we did get Alicia Pottmeyer's second place run.)

What:  SEBRA Bulls n' Barrels @ Ashland, Ohio 

Who: 10 Ohio barrel racers

Added Money: $300 added, $50 entry fee - $15 of the fees went to SEBRA and $35 back into the pot. 

The Ground: The ground was the story of the night. The fair committee put about one foot of sand on top of the hard stone track, so as soon as a horse dug in deep it hit the hard ground and lost all of its footing. Dangerous was the term used to describe the ground by various barrel racers there that night. Even the announcer made mention that all of the cowgirls would be watching out for the ground after the first barrel racer slipped. With the small pen and the ground that was making horses slip, lots of girls knocked because the ground was pushing horses into the barrels.

Overall: This wasn't the best rodeo for barrel racers. To start out the night, fireworks went off without warning within just a few yards of the horse trailers. Then, immediately after the rodeo while girls were all still packing up and cooling down horses, fireworks went off again next to the trailers and did not stop for at least five minutes. 
I'm not sure what the rodeo crew or fair committee could have done better to improve the ground, but conditions were miserable for barrel horses. Any horse that ran down into the ground at all had trouble, and by the end of the ten horses such deep ruts had formed that horses had trouble getting up and out. The run out was also dangerous because as soon as horses left the arena they were on hard track and the stopping wasn't good for horses' hocks. 
A major plus of SEBRA's production was that it allowed barrel racers to have a few minutes in the arena to first see how the ground would be. At least girls could see what they were getting themselves into and let their horses get a feel for the slick track underneath the deceptive deep sand. 

This Week's Barrel Racing Report

This week's Barrel Racing Report is loaded with results from some major barrel races and rodeos out West. If you're keeping up with what's going on west of the Mississippi, this is the place to look. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Review - SEBRA Buckin' Ohio in Burbank, Ohio

Before the final show in the Buckin' Ohio Bulls n' Barrels series, the barrel racing summer standings still were not finalized. Jessica Cantrell sat one winning paycheck behind series leader Tami Sutton going into the event. In the end, Sutton left a barrel down and Cantrell took home the first place check, bumping her far enough ahead of Sutton to take home the buckle for the summer. 

What: Buckin' Ohio SEBRA event (Barrels not sanctioned by SEBRA, though)

Who: 13 Barrel racers - top 3 in Buckin' Ohio Series, all Ohio cowgirls

Added Money: $300 added, $40 entry fees 

The Ground: The footing was a sandy mix that dried out over the last few weeks without rain. It was very soft and it didn't seem as if any horses hit hard ground as the ruts formed around the barrels. It wasn't deep enough, though, for any horses to get stuck in it. The sand pushed away from some horses but nobody seemed to have any major trips. Those putting on the rodeo made a huge effort to make the ground as good as possible for the barrel racing. They even worked up the ground after intermission, directly before the barrel race. With only 13 girls, the ground never got too bad. 

Overall: This was a great local rodeo that drew in some great local talent. The ground was not an issue, and the pen was almost a perfect size. A 14-second pattern, it wasn't too long and narrow or too big. The biggest challenge for some contestants and some hotter horses is the lengthy alleyway. The alley was almost as long as the arena and was barely five feet wide at the base, so hotter horses had some serious issues with having to contain themselves. The timer was only a panel past the out gate, so horses had to come in running blind and run out through a tough gate into an even tougher alleyway. A horse needed to come through the gate hunting the first barrel hard. 

While the crowd was loud and really into the bull riding, it seemed like a lot of the fans were MIA for the barrel race. The arena was practically silent until horses rounded the third, and even then the crowd didn't seem nearly as into the barrel racing as it was for the bull riding. 

Results: Jessica Cantrell won the rodeo with a 14.4, and it took a low 15.0 to be fourth. 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

And The Winner Is....Hilltop Arena!

TheBarrelRacingBlog's Top Indoor Arena in Pennsylvania and Ohio is HillTop Arena in Byesville, Ohio! It beat out Circle G Arena in Lewisburg, Ohio, and Buckhorn Arena in West Sunbury, Pennsylvania, as the top vote-getter.
Earlier in the summer, TheBarrelRacingBlog reviewed an NBHA at Byesville, where over 250 horses ran in the warm-up alone. HillTop's long alleyway opens up to smaller covered arena where a 15.0 usually wins the barrel race. 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekend Review - Marietta, Ohio APRA

The Buckeye Rodeo Company brought some tough competitors to the tiny track pen at Marietta, Ohio's Washington County Fair. The American Professional Rodeo Association and the Mid-States Rodeo Association co-sanctioned the event that brought in 12 barrel racers from around the region. The ground was the usual dirt-on-track style, and pen was barely a few strides across, presenting a challenge to even some of the best rodeo horses there. 

What: APRA/MSRA Rodeo 

Who: Buckeye Rodeo Company Stock, 12 mainly local barrel racers

Added Money: $300 added. $62 non-member entry fee. 

The Ground: The light dirt was soft on top and hard underneath. Most horses didn't have a problem with it at all, partly because the pen was so small that most of the big horses could not get going fast enough to slip. (To inject a big of personal experience, though, I was on a young, smaller horse that could get going fast enough and did fall because of her turning style.) Again, most horses handled the ground fine, and it was very similar to the BullRide Mania at Dayton, Penn. 

Overall: The rodeo was a huge success. The crowd was huge and was completely into the show. The event drew in some good local barrel racers and team ropers. As for the runs, though, the rodeo was a tough one for most barrel racers. The gate was a side entrance that the gateman told the competitors to run, so the second barrel was directly in front of the alleyway. The biggest struggle seemed to be keeping the barrels up in the tight set up. With fans and grandstands on both sides and chutes behind the third barrel, a lot of cans fell over. Most horses also struggled with getting up any kind of speed through the pattern and most horse's turns weren't as honest as usual because of the small set up. It was a typical small track rodeo, with lots of factors contributing to make the run tough. 

Results: Still waiting on the results from the APRA office. Since my horse fell on top of me and I was hurting pretty bad, we headed home after the team roping slack and didn't stay for the barrel racing slack. I'll have them for you as soon as I get them!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hats On!

As I poured over my Google Analytic statistics that tell me what people are looking at on TheBarrelRacingBlog and how they got here, I noticed that someone searched the phrase "how to keep your hat on barrel racing." 

And that led me to this short post - duct tape. When I was 14, a very tough cowgirl told me that stampede straps are for wannabes. That stuck in my head immediately, and from then on I was bound and determined to never ever be forced to use one again. 

I tried everything - bobby pins, maxi pads (yes, ask anyone on the Fly-By-Night Crew from 2004), paper towels - and nothing would keep that thing on my head. Finally, one night, I overheard some older women talking about how they keep their hats on their heads. They said they place an inch-long strip of duct tape on their hats then press it tightly to their foreheads. The trick hasn't failed me yet. By now, my hat is so molded to my head that nothing would make it come off, but for new hats that aren't quite right yet, duct tape solves the problem!

Weekend Review - Henderson's Arena - Jackson, Ohio

The final weekend of summer drew in huge crowds and top horses at Henderson's Arena in Jackson, Ohio. With exhibition only on Friday night, by 6 p.m. Friday the parking lots were full and electric hook-ups were scarce. When all was said and done, though, Ohioans Kelly Pitts and Brad Shirey took home the wins in the 1D on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. 

What: NBHA OH District 05 Money Maker.

Who: Hundreds and hundreds of barrel racers from Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. The Open had over 350 horses on Saturday night. 

Added Money: $2000 each night in the Open 3D.

The Ground: As usual, the ground at Henderson's was soft and deep, generally in a good way. Some people came out of the pen complaining the ground was too deep, but most thought it was fine. The tractor drivers did a good, quick job working the arena, helping the huge show to move along. After every 100 horses they ran a big drag that kept the ground holding. The ground was not particularly fast, though, as 15.5s and 15.6s have won at Henderson's before, and usually a few more horses get into the 15s than just the three or four that did this weekend. 

Overall: This was a top-of-the-line show. Many of the best horses in the area showed up to run here. The barns were packed, and the parking lots were crammed. With well over 100 in the Youth each day, too, the show was a huge success and really drew in the talent. 
Although the committee only held exhibition Friday night, if you needed to do some tuning the barrels were set up in Henderson's outdoor arena, where the ground was soft and the pattern isn't much different from inside the arena. 
Aside from just the ground, the competition and the added money, the hospitality at Henderson's Arena could not be better. The food stand offers a wide array of delicious Southeast Ohio's best home-cooked meals and desserts at reasonable prices. Even more, Henderson's Western Wear and Tack Shop had some great sales and always has the latest in western fashion that's hard to find anywhere else on the East Coast. 

Results: Kelly Pitts on Tin Zan Man won Saturday night with a 15.964, and Brad Shirey took home all the money Sunday with a smoking 15.838. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vote in the Poll! What's the best indoor in PA or OH?

Barrel racers in Pennsylvania and Ohio bounce back and forth across state lines each weekend, and everyone probably has their own favorite arena. This poll is about show arenas - do you prefer the shorter runs at Simmons Equestrian Center or the mammoth run to the first barrel at Diamond 7? Do you like to short alleyway at Henderson's Arena or the long one at Hilltop? I don't have enough space in my poll to fit all of the arenas I want to offer, but I have put in as many as possible.

Monday, September 7, 2009

NFR Qualifier and Calgary Winner Tana Poppino's Blog

Oklahoma cowgirl Tana Poppino is busy hauling up and down the rodeo trail this summer with her two geldings, Amigo (Perryman Star) and Goose (Doc Hickorys Cross). She's been taking time out, though, to share her experiences in a personal blog called On the Road, where she shares insights into both her best days and her worst. She writes:

I am back at the fairgrounds at Tremonton, Utah. My trip to Nampa was
dissappointing, but it reminded me that success takes hard work. Good runs come
when there is totally unity between horse and rider. Even though I am competing
with a broken ankle, I have not been able to ride and work my horses every day,
and have lost the edge I need to win.

Check out the rest of Poppino's site at

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Bad Run

The bad run isn't the fast run with the knocked barrel - it's the run that is so out of character, so terrible, that you find it hard to show your face for a few hours at an arena. Others rarely notice this run, but it's the run that makes your skin crawl when you watch the video and the run that makes you feel like your barrel racing career is all for naught.

Maybe that's just me, but I doubt it. Two weeks ago, I had one of those runs. I pulled back on my horse going to the first barrel (an ultimate No-No), then proceeded to blow my third barrel by not helping my horse finish her turn and over-riding. It wasn't just at a barrel race, though, it was at a rodeo, in front of a crowd. Not just a rodeo, though - it was the closest rodeo to my home town in years at Greensburg, Penn.

If I mess up a run on my colt, I don't feel as bad. We're new together, we are allowed to make mistakes. It's the bad run on the old horse that kills me. I've owned her for 10 years and run her for about five. She was hurt every other year and I've been running her for less than a year, this time around, but I really have no reason to mess up the way I did at that rodeo.

My first "bad run" was in the finals at the All American Youth Barrel Race in Jackson, Miss., when I was 14. Before then, I had no expectations for my horse's or my own abilities. I had a good year before that, and I wanted to make my youth career that week in Jackson. In all the pressure I put on myself, I forgot how to run my horse completely, and ultimately she fell and broke her hip. I cried the whole 24-hour drive home.

Maybe these feelings go away the better you get and the more you've won. In the future, when TheBarrelRacingBlog profile a barrel racers, we'll ask about their bad runs and how they cope with screwing up.

If you have stories or thoughts on your own bad runs, let us know! Comment here or email them to

Friday, September 4, 2009

Natalie Overholt - The Extras That Keep Her Going - Part 5

A lot of external factors go into a run each night. Sometime's its the saddle, other times its the trip to or from a rodeo that weighs heavy on your mind going down the alleyway. Here, Overholt talks about some of the things other than the horses and the ground that go into life on the rodeo trail.
Overholt's dog, Jasper, is her favorite traveling buddy.

Who are your hauling partners?
My dog Jasper always goes with me. Sometimes I haul by myself. Usually haul with Tyler West and sometimes with some girls from around home.

What is your favorite memory of life on the rodeo road so far?
There are a lot of good memories. One of the best was when Tyler and I rode our horses bareback in the grand entry at North Washington, Penn., last year. He rode a 4-year-old that had never been in a grand entry, and I rodeo my horse Casey.
Last weekend I got to throw t-shirts to the crowd on the victory lap and New Windsor, Ill., that was fun.

When you are at a rodeo, who else’s run do you make sure you watch and why?
People I am traveling with to discuss runs afterwards. Plus whoever else’s run I don’t miss.

What type of truck and trailer do you drive and why?
Chevy because Chevys are fast! Mine is just a gas engine but I wish I had a Duramax diesel.

What’s the worst thing that has ever happened on the road?
My horse fell into gate and scraped her legs all up and had to vet out of some good rodeos.

Where is the farthest you’ll travel for a rodeo?
Depends on how much money is added.

How often do you take time off?
Little as possible.

How long do you condition a horse before you run it?
Couple months

What type of hat do you wear?
I need a new hat.

What kind of saddle do you ride?
Circle Y

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Natalie Overholt - Riding and Ethics - Part 4 of 5

Without vet checks at most rodeos, barrel racers on the rodeo trail can get away with more than those showing futurities or some of the larger horse shows. An unspoken questions is often, "What is that horse running on?" Below, Overholt addresses her thoughts on steroids, her own riding ethics and much more.

Riding and Ethics
How much time do you spent reviewing your runs and going over what you did wrong or right?
I watch the run a few times on tape if it was taped, then think about what went wrong and start on a solution as soon as possible. The sooner I can figure out the problem and find a solution to the problem the better.

What do you do to practice on your older horses if you’re having a problem?
Usually if the horse is finished, seasoned and already winning and I start having problems with it I go to the vet to see if they are sore, and that usually fixes the problem.

What do you do best riding-wise?
Getting the most potential possible out of a horse, and I’m light handed.

What do you or have you struggled with the most while riding?
I have trouble keeping my stirrups. It doesn’t matter what I do I seem to lose them. I’ve also had to start over from square one with a lot of green horses.

What rules do you play by? Any ethics you try to follow when it comes to doing what it takes to win?
I try to see each individual horses strength and build from there. I feed vitamin supplements. I’ve seen too many good horses get wrecked or messed up for life because of steroids so I stay away from using that kind of stuff.

What veterinary technique has served you best (i.e. hock injections, Legend, shock wave therapy, etc.)?

Chiropractor adjustments and having the knees, hocks and stifles injected.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Overholt - In the Arena - Part 3 of 5

A true competitor, Overholt talks about her adaptability to different arenas and ground in the rodeo pen.

In the Arena
What type of ground do you prefer to run on?
Prefer good footing and to be at top of drag but I take whatever it is and make the best of it.

Do your horses have any preference of ground or do you pick horses that can take anything?
Casey the horse I run the most will run on just about any type of ground, but it has taken a lot of hauling and running in different pens to get her that way.

Do you like big or small pens?
I like medium sized ones the best but it doesn’t really matter I just try to adapt to the situation.

What is going through your head when you’re running to the first?
Oh no don’t hit it...

What are you thinking running home?
To push as hard as I can and don’t stop till I’m at the gate. Way to often I see horses shut down before the timer line.

How do you approach a barrel (i.e. with a wide pocket, straight at it, etc)?
Fairly straight with little pocket.

Do you run with spurs, a hand whip, or nothing?
Usually with spurs and a whip. It depends on the horse. I have one horse that hates whips and if I carry one he tries to run off and loses his head even if I don’t use the whip.

What is your horse’s cue to turn a barrel (i.e. lift, leg pressure, etc.)?

My horse Casey rates barrels really good so I just have to drive her all the way. Most other horses I just sit back a little and barely touch the inside rein.

What is your favorite bit for a finished horse?
O-ring, jr working cow horse or a half wonder bit.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Overholt Covers Training Techniques and Tools

Overholt is far from just a jockey. The Michigan cowgirl has trained her own horses for years and spends her days on the backs of young horses. Below, she covers her training ideals and some of her favorite tools.
Natalie and Casey at the IBRA Ultimate Challenge in Cloverdale, Ind., where she won the 1D out of 500+ horses.

Do you train your own horses?
I usually train my own horses. I have had some that were already trained or started on barrels. But now I do the majority of the training myself.

What philosophies do you stick to when training young horse?
Horses have different personalities, characteristics, abilities and athletic styles. Because this stuff varies from horse to horse, each horses learns at a different pace and needs individualized attention. What I do and how I train a horse depends on the individual horse. I try to do what will work best for that particular horse. The more natural something is to a horse the easier it will be for the horse to learn and do.

How far will you push a young horse?

Depends on the individual horse and what they can handle.

What sort of horse body style do you prefer?
I like smaller built horses because I am more comfortable on them. However I have had some big horses and know of other big horses that do a great job barrel racing.

Any bloodlines you think are better than others?
Jet of Honor and Sun Frost breeding is probably my favorite.

At what age do you expect one of your prospects to be ready to hit the rodeo trail?
That all depends on how early the horse was started.

Any favorite techniques when putting a young horse on the barrels?
Start out slow and give them plenty of room coming into barrel to prevent them trying to slice it or cut into close as they get older.

What is your favorite training tool?

What is your favorite bit for a young horse?