Few equestrian sports are more exciting than barrel racing, in which horse and rider carve a lightning-fast cloverleaf pattern around three barrels, then gallop down to the finish line. Time is measured in hundredths of seconds, and winners receive substantial prize money and the admiration and respect of fellow competitors and spectators alike.
As thrilling as barrel racing is to watch, doing it is even more fun, as thousands of people are discovering every year. To help them--and you--get started, champion racer and internationally respected instructor and clinician Marlene McRae shares her program that has taken hundreds of her students to success in the arena, as well as to becoming educated horsemen and-women:
* Selecting Your Champion Horse: Choosing a barrel-racing prospect based on conformation and temperament; finding a qualified veterinarian to help you assess the prospects.
* Choosing and Using Equipment: Determining the right saddle, bridle (including bits), leg protection, and other tack to buy, as well as their proper fit and use.
* Feeding and Nutrition: Establishing a basic commonsense feeding regimen for your horse; the role of supplements, as well as their possible misuse.
* Shoeing and Foot Care: Proper foot care, with an emphasis on working with your farrier and veterinarian to avoid foot- and leg-related injuries.
* Conditioning and Exercising: A comprehensive program for developing your horse's stamina and fitness, along with ways to avoid unsoundness problems.
* Getting Started in the Barrel-Racing Patterns: How to set up the pattern correctly; techniques for training the horse, with an emphasis on rider position, balance, and using hands, legs, and voice as communication aids.
* Competing: Locating entry-level local events, clubs, and associations; the "mental game of competing to stay focused; achieving teamwork with your horse."
Barrel Racing 101 is the perfect textbook for the sport. Study it and use it, and you're bound to finish at the top of your class.