Barrel Racing Dreams – The First Steps

In my last installment of barrel racing dreams, I listed out some things that I needed to do in order to get my resurrected barrel racing dreams up and running. This installment is an update of how I am coming along with that and what is on the horizon.

Why a Series?

To be honest, in the past, I worked extremely hard on my barrel racing dreams. My horse got rode six days a week. He was fed the best feed. I went to clinics. My bedroom was full of barrel racing DVDs and books that were well-studied. We competed in both the local amateur rodeos and in jackpots.

 

And yet, I didn’t get where I wanted to go. Not even close. I stepped away from the sport frustrated, embarrassed and extremely upset. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the sport and still do. My barrel racing dreams never died. It had just gotten to a point where I didn’t know what to do to help my progress.

 

This time around things will be different in part because I have this blog to keep me accountable. I never had issues with accountability in the past. Like I said above, I was always out working my horse. Even if it was thirty below, I was out there doing something with him. The problem was I never gave myself goals that stretched me and got me closer to my dreams.

 

Knowing that others are following along will do a couple of things for me:

 

  • Force me to set goals that are outside of my comfort zone; and
  • Take action to achieve those goals even if it is scary, expensive or otherwise against what I would typically do.

Recent Progress

In the last installment, I said that I needed to:

 

  • Get my horse vaccinated (Since he hasn’t been anywhere or been in contact with any other horses, I have not kept his vaccinations up to date.)
  • Buy a riding pass to the nearest indoor arena
  • Join the local barrel racing association (For me, this is the Alberta Barrel Racing Association. If you live in Alberta, you NEED to join. It is great for people of any skill level. If you want to know how divisional barrel races work, check out this post.)
Get my Horse Vaccinated
On Wednesday I made a call to the local vet clinic to see what my horse should be vaccinated with based on where we live and what I would be doing. The vet tech explained to me what they recommended and let me know that they had everything on hand at the clinic. After work I went straight there to purchase the vaccinations.

 

I have given vaccinations before, so it wasn’t a big deal for me to vaccinate my horse by myself. He stood like such a gentleman. My pony, in contrast, stood impatiently tied up in the barn waiting to be served his evening feed.

 

In went the needles as I checked off one item from my barrel racing dreams to do list.
Buy a Riding Pass
Next stop on the barrel racing dreams train was the local indoor riding arena. For those of you who don’t know, I live in Alberta, Canada. As I write this, it is the end of November and, for about the past month, there has been snow and ice on the ground. My outdoor riding arena has been frozen and hard for quite some time and there is ice dangerously hidden under the snow just about every where.

Buying a Riding Pass

Obviously having a frozen riding arena is a bit of a problem when your sport is barrel racing. The solution to this is to haul to an indoor arena. In my case, I am quite fortunate to have a very large arena about twenty five minutes from my house. It was only recently built and is nice and toasty on those cold days.

 

Early last week I phoned the agricultural society to ask some questions about riding in the arena. I wanted to know when I would be able to ride, how I could purchase a riding pass, etc. We decided to meet so that I could purchase a pass, which I did. I bought an annual pass that gives me pretty much unrestricted access to the arena for the next year, assuming there isn’t another event going on.
Join the Local Barrel Racing Association
Of course, my barrel racing dreams cannot get moving if I am not part of an association. To start with, I have decided to join the provincial jackpot association (the Alberta Barrel Racing Association). They have jackpots all over Alberta, including in the arena where I bought my riding pass.

 

I will be upfront and say that I have not yet bought a membership. The forms have been printed and filled out, but I have yet to submit them. Why, you ask? There isn’t a rush. The first jackpot that I want to compete in will be on February 2, 2019. That is almost two months away.

 

Hold me to this: I will send in the membership and get my card before the middle of January.
Back on the Road
I took advantage of my riding pass on Sunday and hauled my horse up to the arena. To be honest, I had butterflies in my stomach. We haven’t been anywhere in so long. I wasn’t sure how he would act.

 

Furthermore, I didn’t know what would be going on when I got to the arena. Would there be a bunch of people in there? After all, it was a fairly warm winter day that would be fine for hauling horses. Would I be alone?

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All of these concerns were a waste. First off, my horse is very quiet and well behaved. He may spook a little bit at something now and then but nothing major at all. If he spooked at being in a new building, it wouldn’t be anything that I couldn’t handle.

 

Next, why would it matter if there were various other people in the arena? I have rode several times in barrel racing warm up rings. If I can handle that, a quiet riding arena on a Sunday would not be an issue at all.

 

How did it go? Well, there was only one trailer in the parking lot when I pulled up and it happened to be a girl that I know. She had two horses there that she was working, both of which were well behaved. I got on immediately and started riding. My horse was completely fine with the new sights.

 

Did I make a run? No. The barrels were set up but I decided not to make a run. Why? To be honest, I had worked myself up into a bit of a tizzy by the time I swung a leg over my horse. I should have made a run but I didn’t. That is something I need to work on.

The Week Ahead

Since the weather forecast looks good so far for the week ahead, there should be no reason why I cannot take my horse back to the arena at least once again this week. I look forward to it. After having a good experience today, my confidence has increased that much more. It makes me feel like I can make this happen.

 

On my to do list, we still have buying an association membership, as discussed above. In addition, I would like to add something to my to do list this week that involves my mental preparation. In the past, my mental state has been the downfall of my barrel racing dreams. If I can get that solved, it will be much smoother sailing.

 

This week, I want to focus on my breathing. When I got worked up on Sunday, my heart rate and breathing increased which caused me to become shaky and a little nauseous. There is something called box breathing that I heard about from Mark Divine, former Navy Seal. Box breathing involves breathing in for four counts, holding for four counts, breathing out for four counts, and holding for four counts. Not only does this take your mind off of racing thoughts, but it also physiologically helps a person when in a nervous situation.

 

My goal for this week is to practice box breathing twice a day for at least two minutes each time. The goal would be to eventually be able to call on this type of breathing when in a stressful situation.

Finish Line Thoughts

As I said in the first installment of Barrel Racing Dreams, it’s all about baby steps. One foot in front of the other. If you can build on where you were the day before, you will be surprised by how that can quickly accumulate.

 

What are your goals for this week? Are you pushing yourself out of your comfort zone? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

 

And remember it’s always a #gooddaytoride.

 

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