Article by - Barb Poulson
Printed in the June 2008 issue of the WESTERN HORSE REVIEW
Meet Marci Powell – CPRA Ladies Barrel Racing Director
“Representing barrel racing in professional rodeo is one of the proudest and scariest things I will ever do…”
Likely all of the barrel racers who have stepped forward to serve as directors have experienced the same thought at one time or another. Often a thankless job, the role of director in any rodeo association takes courage, dedication and skill in the sport involved.
Powell reflects on the challenge she’s undertaken, “It’s funny, becoming the CPRA barrel racing director was something that I always knew that I would do once. I have been a director before in amateur rodeo, but this is on a larger scale. I’m not sure why my path has taken me here at this time, but I will apply a lot of my business background to this position. Rodeo is a business, and needs to be treated as such. I have a background in marketing and promotion, which I hope to tie in with this. I believe as long as all of your decisions are made in fairness and for the betterment for your membership, you can stay on the right track. This sometimes won't make you very popular, but you will earn respect. In my opinion, popularity will fade with time; respect will endure.”
Powell has earned her rodeo stripes over the past quarter century, “I grew up going to rodeos with my dad, Cecil Eide. He used to pick up for Brookman and Jerry Myers. He also roped calves and team-roped. I would run my pony around five gallon feed pails and pretend I was Jerri Duce (Phillips), or Jamie Dee Anderson (McDonald). I entered my first rodeo in Plentywood Montana when I was seven. Barrel Racing was just something I felt I was going to do. I loved it, and still do. I won my first pro rodeo cheque in Wood Mountain, SK in 1982 (when I was 13). I bought a pack horse in 1983 from a guy in Sundre, trained him myself on barrels, his name was Barney (because he did not like to leave the barn). In the spring of 1984, we won the Pro Rodeo in Craven, SK. It had $7000 added, and paid $2798.88 to win, At that time it was the Richest Professional Barrel Race in Canada. I was thrilled. “
That enjoyment and success has stayed with the barrel racer turned realtor over the years. Powell has twice ended her year in the top 15 in Canada. She’s enjoyed four Calgary Stampede qualifications, attendance at all of the amateur association finals and has numerous futurity and derby wins to her credit. In her spare time, Powell trains horses, crediting her Dad and a few select trainers for having the most impact on her approach. “I have always trained my own horses. My dad taught me so much about horsemanship. I don’t raise my own prospects; I like to buy them already started - hopefully with some roping or ranch work experience. I like my horses to be broke before they ever see a barrel. I have had the opportunity to learn from some great people, and some girls that I have traveled with. I would have to say though that a lot of my knowledge has come from riding with Ray Hunt, Locke Duce and Dave Manning. These men are incredible horseman, and I feel that horsemanship is the basis of barrel racing.”
As far as what she looks for in a barrel prospect, Powell likes horses with a little fire in them. “I used to ride the ones that bucked a little, but I’m getting old for that! I like an athlete - breeding has never shown too much of a strong pattern for me. I do like race bred horses, with a little cow in them.” Powell sells most of the horses she trains… “I find it so rewarding to see them go on and win. It’s kinda’ like one of your kids.” The Spruce Grove, Alberta based barrel racer has trained and sold two LRA barrel racing champions, one WRA champion and several amateur rodeo association Finals qualifiers.
Powell competes at a variety of levels… some pro rodeos, as well as futurities, and 3D barrel races. “The 3D barrel races are great to get your young horses going. The implementation of this concept in Canada has totally changed the face of barrel racing. Fifteen years ago, we only could rodeo; we had to season our colts at rodeos, and I think then we had maybe one or two futurities in Canada. Pro Rodeo is tough. End of story. So many girls are doing well in amateur rodeo, come here and don’t even get a sniff. There are so many great horses that if you breathe wrong, you are not going to get a cheque. There is a big difference between the two levels. I am excited about the growth our sport has taken, it’ been great for the horse industry.”
Barrel racing is only one part of Powell’s life. For the past 13 years, she has worked very successfully selling real estate… a profession she finds demanding but satisfying as well. “In real estate, no two days are the same. Selling Real Estate is great, but very unpredictable. You never know what your day will bring or the way it will all play out. I have left my home in the morning expecting to be back by 2:00 pm, then I end up writing offers and arrive back home at 9:00 pm. I love it, but it can be challenging.” Powell strives to keep everything in perspective, “I was raised to have balance in my life, so I put God first, family second, career and horses third. I am currently riding three horses of my own, and some days that is hard to fit in. My son, Tayler is 16 now, and that makes it easier for me to juggle everything. I envy the girls who don’t have to work, and can spend their day riding horses. That must be really something! However it is very rewarding having your own business and succeeding at it as well.”
Over the last few years in Alberta, real estate has gone through its ups and downs. Barrel racing, too, has seen a number of changes, “When I started barrel racing, just about everyone trained their own horses. That is not the case today. A lot of the girls winning today, have purchased horses that someone else has trained. Barrel racing has turned into a big money business. Barrel horses are bringing $30,000 for a high school rodeo horse, and a pro horse is unpriceable. My dad gave me great advice years ago, ‘The great ones were all trained by someone.’ That statement always gives me hope. Even though I might not be able to afford to buy the best, I can always strive to train the best.”
Whether she’s showing a property to a client, driving to Calgary for a CPRA board meeting or heading to a barrel racing competition, Marci Powell’s driving force is still her horses and the sport she loves… “I grew up with rodeo; it’s still my passion - all I’ve ever really known. I would be lost without my horses.”
Printed in the October 2011 issue of the HORSES ALL
Horse Needs Solid Stop Before Learning Rollback
By Marci Powell
A Rollback is a more advanced manoeuvre, where your horse sits on his hind end and uses his inside pivot leg to come back through himself and go the other direction. As each horse advances at its own pace, the time to learn rollback manoeuvres should be determined on an individual basis.Q How can you tell if your horse is ready to advance to learning rollback manoeuvres?
I like all my colts to be soft and flexed in the body, face, rib cage and shoulder. By doing this it is easier to prepare to teach a rollback or any advanced manoeuvre. If you have a horse that is stiff in the face or rib cage make sure you get him soft and supple before you attempt to train to any other level. I do a lot of one rein stops and work in the round pen to ensure that they are soft and backed off the bridle. This is vital.
The rollback can’t be achieved until the stop is solid. Your horse should already know how to stop well before you attempt to teach a rollback. This ensures that your horse knows all about his hind end, inside pivot leg and how to use it.
I like my horses to melt to a stop, by me just sitting down in the saddle, a stride before and barely touching the reins. A smooth stop is felt when the horse engages his hind end and slides on his hip to a sliding stop, not popping the front end.
My colts should be able to lope circles in both directions, both collected and on a loose rein. They need to be relaxed and confident in order for them to start to learn more advanced training steps.
I also do a lot of work on hip control. I like to be able to move my horse’s hip to the left or right, by just placing my foot behind the back cinch in the direction I want it to go. This helps me to be able to get my colts to place that inside pivot leg. I also use hip control in order to train for lead changes and lope departures.
My horses need to be able to back up properly as well. Backing up will cause my horse to gather underneath me — I rock them back so that they can elevate their front end and come back through. In barrel horses I need them to always be rocked back with their front end elevated. Barrel horses should never be down on their front end. Your goal as a trainer is that on a proper rollback the hind foot on the inside of the turn should plant and pivot on the turn. I like my horses to be a bit rounder throughout their body than some trainers. This helps when I put them on the barrel pattern. I ride a lot with staggered hands, meaning that if I ask for a right turn or rollback, my inside hand is down the inside rein farther than the other. Sometimes I hold my outside rein tighter to help block the opposite shoulder in the turn. Your goal is to get your horse broke enough so that you have control of all of his body parts, which will make a rollback or any other manoeuvre you are trying to teach way more enjoyable and rewarding for both of you.
I sometimes use a fence to initially introduce a rollback on a colt. I will ride parallel along a fence approximately 4 ft. away, stop, back a couple of steps and ask the colt to turn into the fence. As in any training, there are no quick fixes, magic bits or short cuts. Nothing replaces hours in the saddle, and wet saddle blankets.
Marci Powell is a CPRA/WPRA professional barrel racer and trainer from Wainwright, AB. She has taught clinics all across Canada including The Main Event in Chilliwack, BC and the Atlantic Horse Fair in Truro, NS. For more information about Marci visit
Clinics, vendors and racing on tap for weekend event
Gordon McCabe brushes My Tailgate Tony, his 13-year-old thoroughbred quarter horse cross, in preparation for this weekend's annual Atlantic Horse Fair to be held in Bible Hill. McCabe is participating in the barrel clinic for the second time with hopes...
Published on April 19, 2012
BIBLE HILL - Gordon McCabe has always been a fan of barrel racing, so much in fact that he started racing competitively three years ago.
McCabe, a 27-year-old Bible Hill resident, does what he can to improve upon his techniques, including taking a barrel clinic at this weekend's fifth annual Atlantic Horse Fair being held on the grounds of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition.
"I'm trying to improve my turns," said McCabe as he brushed his 13-year-old thoroughbred quarter horse cross My Tailgate Tony.
"I have a bad habit of not following the rim. I hope to turn the barrel and just get around it. I also want to work on my riding as I'm not the best rider in the world."
Those techniques are some things the rider will work on this weekend with professional barrel racer Marci Powell, who is leading the barrel clinic.
Growing up, McCabe always watched barrel racing at the exhibition and said it was something he wanted to do when he got older.
"I never had the money (when younger) but I was able to save up my money to buy My Tailgate Tony. I bought him out of Ohio."
McCabe said he loves the adrenaline just as he's going in to a barrel race.
"I love going fast. I love how supped-up I get and nervous."
Over the course of two days, the horse fair will have many things on the go for equine lovers, and maybe even those who have a love of dogs.
Diane Daniels said the horse fair started with a couple of mandates - promoting the equine industry and making it affordable to all horse lovers.
"We're going to have lots of fun and lots of entertainment," said Daniels as work was underway at the grounds for the event.
Daniels said there are a number of clinicians for the two-day event, including reiner Travis Smith and Trevor Lawon, covering equine dentistry and parasite control. There will also be demonstrations on shoeing and hoof care.
The Pond in Bible Hill is sponsoring a mechanical bull riding competition on Sunday, with $100 up for grabs.
But aside from clinics and demonstrations, there will also be 1,700 square feet of vendors for both equine and canine needs.
Yan Mowatt of Little Moe's K9 Academy will be on hand for dog training.
Sunday afternoon will see harness racing with a post time of 1:30, after which the drivers will take a turn on the mechanical bull.
Admission is $5 for adults and free for those 10 and under.
The fair runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The elimination round for the mechanical bull riding competition goes Sunday morning with the finals starting in the afternoon.