You Get Out What You Put In
McKenzie Morgan describes her routine at home and on the road to keep her horses performing at the top of their game.
By McKenzie Morgan, age 16, originally published in the October 2018 issue of Barrel Horse News
In my previous columns, I’ve written about hardheaded horses and spending lots of time in the practice pen, but I haven’t discussed much about what it’s like traveling up and down the road. It takes a village to travel like we do and keep our horses at 100 percent all the time. I want to share with you guys my game plan before, after, and when warming up for every run.
Barrel racing takes a lot of preparation during the week. Our week starts out with intense workouts and cold liniment baths. By the middle of the week, we start putting poultices on the horses after every workout and do Magna Wave treatments. The key is to keep these horses pain free, especially after a weekend of traveling.
Before every run, my horses get EquiResp treatments and have a bag of hay in their stall 24/7. Soft-Ride boots are your best friend for long weekends hauling and stalling, especially if your horse has to stand tied on concrete at a show. Standing on hard ground is really hard on a horse.
It’s very important to keep your horses hydrated and make sure you have electrolytes available when needed to replace what they lose through sweat, especially in the summer.
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a hundred times—you get out what you put in. Long and slow warm-ups make for a calmer and happier horse. I’m a firm believer the longer you take to walk, trot, and lope, the better your runs are going to be. I also try to stay as calm as possible and imagine that I’m just riding at home and not getting ready to make a run.
We also have a running bit and a warm-up bit, and my horses know the difference. It’s another way to keep your horse calm and keep its mind off running barrels. After every run, I feed my horses cookies—even after really bad runs. This goes back to my theory of always making your horse feel like he’s won the world, even if you hit all three barrels. I’m thankful for every run on each horse and I always give them cookies!
After a run, my horses get hosed off and walked down for at least 20 minutes, and they get a fresh bucket of water. We also give them the opportunity to roll. A wise man once told me, “If a horse will roll for you, that means he trusts you. Always strive for this kind of bond with a horse.” That’s something that has stuck with me for a while now.
Last but not least, my horses always get mudded down with B Equine Essentials. That’s one of the main things that keeps them from stocking up or being sore anywhere. Traveling is one of the hardest things on a horse, so always try and take the absolute best care of these guys while you’re away from home. Give them at least a day or two to recoup from a long weekend of running before getting them ready for the next weekend again. A lot goes into our horses during the week to only get a run or two on the weekend, but it’s so rewarding when that hard work pays off. I’m so thankful to live my life revolving around the horses and their needs.