Training Tips

Bad Runs
By Abby Sutfin

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That feeling as your horse comes to a stop, all 400 contestants are silent and staring at you….they all think; "wow that was bad", and you can’t wait to run back to your trailer unsaddle your horse, move to another state and enter under a different name…..

OK this maybe a bit of an exaggeration but we have all been there. It does not always seem like it at the time. Whether it’s a thirty-five-dollar jackpot or a pro rodeo to us it feels horrible, and frankly can hinder our runs to come if we let it.  A few things I have learned; no matter what level you are entering, and frankly the higher level proves truer, every contestant there has had a “bad” run. Most are not criticizing your run, they are thinking about what they are doing, or what went wrong or good in their run, or maybe they are thinking “ man I feel for her I’ve been there” or at least the ones that are willing to learn are. We barrel racers are actually nicer people than we are portrayed as-never hang your head.

Here’s my take; the moment you stop thinking you had a “bad run” and start seeing the good in the run… things get better. Just yesterday I WACKED two barrels- Goodbye $35 entry fee……..and I was the happiest lil idiot you’ve seen !!!  To the spectators/contestants I knocked two barrels out of the park to be fairly fast. But to me I accomplished the goal that I had set for that run, and the last month (no not to hit two barrels).  See I’ve been in a bit of a first barrel slump with my open mare, when I say slump more like grabbing a gear and watching the first barrel pass bye. This mare Im very proud of, but didnt train and has some quirts, one also is some “gate issues” even though she continues to be better I have not been happy with how I didn’t feel in control at the gate.  I have been concentrating on these things. The last 4 jackpots have gotten progressively better, both at the gate and turning the first. Yesterday with my smooth “no time” I didn’t care because my mare sat at the gate on a lose rein, eased into the arena, waited for me, and inhaled the first barrel (hitting it leaving)…. well I was so happy I sat up and coasted to the 2, which is not a good plan of attack. 

Nerves used to be one of my biggest weakness, I would forget the gameplan or if there even was one! Which in turn made my horses not confident. I’ve been lucky enough to control my nerves for some time now,  because of exactly what I’m talking about-setting a goal for that specific run. We all feel excitement with the anticipation of competition, but real nervousness usually comes from being unprepared and or doubting ourselves (thinking what our peers are thinking). Which in turn makes our horse nervous because we do not feel like that on their back in the practice pen. When you simplify your thoughts and be happy with even one little aspect of a run each run gets better and comes easier I feel like. We all struggle at times, I don’t care if it’s a green colt, new horse, or an old campaigner things don’t go perfect every time. This is just my lil take on a broad aspect of our sport. Thanks for being awesome!