The A.R.T. of Barrel Racing


Current Clinic Schedule

Ask Sharon


Jackie from Illinois, writes:

Dear Sharon,

I am 16 years old and this year is my first year really competing with my horse. I recently bought a new barrel horse and she is around 16 to 19 (we are not sure). I got her from a lady I met at a Connie Combs clinic and I am torn between waiting for your clinic or going to Connie's in August. My mare really does not have huge problems running the pattern. It's more about my mistakes. There are just a few things that we need to tweak. Would your Fundamentals and Horsemanship Clinic be good for us, or should I go to Connie's clinic in August? Also, do you have any tips for conditioning my older horse? Her legs tend to fill up with fluid after she runs.

Dear Jackie,

Thank you for your question. I admire your interest in continuing your education in horsemanship by attending clinics.

My clinic is limited to 12 students and allows opportunities for the instruction to be tailored to the specific issues each horse and rider combination are demonstrating during the two-day session. Our focus is placed on traditional horsemanship practices that are designed to strengthen performance outcomes.

I would invite you to order my Western Horseman book, The A. R. T. of Barrel Racing. It will provide you with an understanding of my philosophy and an idea of the skill drills and evaluations that I use during my clinics. I have a strong desire to provide the resources my students need to achieve their goals.

Black Hawk College in Kewanee, Illinois, is a wonderful facility for our clinics in your area. In addition to the great arena and wonderful stalling accommodations, the college provides classroom resources for the video review and lecture sections of the program.

I encourage you to tour the website and read about our Clinics and Co-Instructors. Donna Irvin, an equine professor at Black Hawk College, and Cheryl Price, my associate instructor who travels with me, are at our Kewanee clinics to assist me with coaching. This provides for maximum individualized attention at all times during the two-day session.

Regarding your horse, I would encourage you to use our resource, Ask Dr. David Hayes, DVM, CJF for his thoughts on your problem with swelling.

I am sure Dr. Dave would need to know some more specific information, such as:

  • How far up the legs does the swelling go?
  • How soon after the run does this happen?
  • Is the swelling in all four legs?
  • Is there heat?
  • Is the horse lame?
  • How long does it take for the swelling to resolve?

Also see my response to Mandy's letter in this section for information about conditioning your horse as a further resource. I hope to have the opportunity to work with you in Illinois or at any other of our Better Barrel Racing Clinics.

Ride safe,