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 winners...in barrel racing, and in life. NEVER GIVING UP.