The arena is being drug, and the timers are being set. Preparations are being made for the rodeo season opener: the Spring Fling Barrel Race at Kirkwood. We're just about eight days out from when the first runner will take to the arena, and there's a lot of things to be done, in and out of the practice arena. First of all, the week before the season is crucial for practice. Though you make practice runs and go fairly fast in your own arena, you push the limit ten times more when you are actually competing, so it's very important to make sure that your horses are on the path to proper conditioning. It's important to protect them from injuries, especially ones related to the barrel pattern, such as pulled ligaments or out of line spines. This is the time when we really get down to business on maintenance.