Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Never Giving Up

In the rodeo arena, you are expected to perform: every single time. Sure, tough runs come once in awhile, but you should be able to stay fairly consistant with your times and how you turn the barrels. In order to achieve that standard, we barrel racers spend countless hours in the training arena, trying to find that consistency. What do I mean by running consistantly? Well, for all of you city people out there, running consistantly means that if you have a fast horse, you are almost always placing, because your barrel pattern is so consistant. To make a barrel pattern consistant, you have to push into the gate the same way, put your hands in the same place, sit the same way, look to the same spot, say your commands in the same spot, and warm up and cool down the same way...EVERY time. If it sounds easy, trust me, it isn't.

Every arena you run in is different: they all have different dimensions, ground conditions, alley ways, set ups, and atmospheres. Keeping your horse consistant while your conditions are constantly changing around you is very difficult. But that is how you know a horse has been worked with, and the rider has worked hard, if they can be consistant. As my trainer, Theresa Baumgartner, puts it: You have to go through the practice patterns at least 50 times to get 1 smoking run. Details and dedication is what makes great barrel racers.

Twelve time National Finals Rodeo champion, Charmayne James, has the same idea as my trainer when she asks aspiring barrel racers, "Are you willing to work an extra half an hour every day to improve your time by 1/10 of a second?" And that's a question that anyone wanting to barrel race needs to think on, and really ask themselves if they are patient and determined enough to put up with all of the hard days, all of the days where your horse isn't going to cooperate, all of the days where you might get thrown off, and all of the work that comes with one good run. But the truth is, you really can't keep a good cowgirl down, because good cowgirls NEVER GIVE UP. That's what makes us barrel racing, and in life. NEVER GIVING UP.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

To Explain the Feeling...

Here is a poem about barrel racing that pretty much sums up the feelings of why we love it so much. Enjoy!

"I’m a barrel racer, Lord. A quick time is all I need
Just to turn these three barrels, with a decent amount of speed
I’ve hauled a lot of miles, to run this horse of mine
to make each barrel race and then the next one down the line
If it’s a spill I take, Lord, please keep the dirt soft
for another run I’ll make, just as soon as I dust off
My chin I’ll keep it up and my tears I’ll try to hide
The I’ll climb back in my saddle, ever anxious for my next ride
With heart and will in hand, to win or lose with grace
For some other person will want to win the very same barrel race
So let us ride as one, Lord, my barrel horse and me
For hard work and perserverance, I believe is the key
We’ve trained and worked hard, and if I win, you know of course
To you I’ll give the glory, to you and my horse."

"Lord, as we gather today to celebrate the bond between horse and rider,
we ask that you grant us safety now until the last horse crosses the finish line.

As we send our horses hard toward the first barrel
help us remember the many people in public service
that work hard each day to make our lives safe.

After we turn that first barrel
help us to remember that there is more to life than winning.
As we push towards the second barrel
and make a beautiful turn,
may we think deeply and appreciate the pleasure we get
from the horses that power our way.

Lord, as we turn the third barrel towards home,
help us remember the many hours of hard work that go into training
a horse to run the pattern and win.
This is an amazing sport, a sport that makes us laugh and sometimes cry.

A sport of sure determination and often luck.
Help us not to blame our animals for our
lack of preparation and respect them for who they are.
We are all here for one reason so help us celebrate our common love for barrel racing.

Lord, help us remember that even when all goes wrong,
you are always right!
Keep us safe, God Bless each of us today"