Not a single barrel racer on earth is immune to going through a barrel racing slump. If you compete long enough in the sport, it is going to happen at some point or another. It will happen even if you are a world champion barrel racer with a hundred belt buckles in your trophy room.
However, what separates the okay barrel racers from the great barrel racers is their ability to overcome a barrel racing slump. The great ones recognize it, address it and move forward. They don’t let it get them down and mess up the achievement of their goals. It is acknowledged as a necessary hurdle on the way to success.
Are you currently going through a barrel racing slump? Don’t despair. There are simple strategies to get through it and onto bigger and better things.
What Could Cause a Barrel Racing Slump?
There are many things that could be causing your barrel racing slump. It is very individual. What could cause a slump for one barrel racer may have no impact on another. It all depends on the kind of person you are and your current situation.
That being said, there are definitely some things that could precipitate a barrel racing slump, such as:
Overwhelming pressure to win
Pressure from friends, family, coaches
Frustration from a lack of improvement
Being out of your comfort zone
One big thing that can cause a barrel racing slump is feeling like you are out of your league and completely overwhelmed by your situation. In this case, many people may stop working hard because they feel like their effort is wasted. They feel like they are way over their head, so why even try?
This can become a horrible downward spiral. If you stop trying, you don’t get any better. Your confidence goes down further. This contributes to your increasing level of overwhelm. You stop trying because you feel like it’s a lost cause and on and on.
Whatever the cause of your barrel racing slump, there is always a way to get out of it. Whether you’re feeling complacent from riding in the same association for ten years without winning a buckle or are feeling overwhelmed by the pressure coming from your friends, you can always turn things around and be in the winner’s circle where you belong.
Getting out of a Barrel Racing Slump
When you get in a barrel racing slump the first temptation would be to start thinking of all the ways you can get out of it. Is it time to change bits? Maybe I need to listen to rap music before my run. My horse hates ground like this.
Your brain goes around and around trying to find the solution to your problem. The issue with this? It rarely finds the answer. Instead, it works you into a tizzy, digging you further and further into your slump.
The better option? Trust yourself and your horse. If you’ve put in the work, you don’t need to worry about all of those things. It’s a matter of concentrating on what you know and then leaving the rest behind you in the arena.
Performance vs. Results
Let’s be honest. If you are in a barrel racing slump, your runs probably aren’t where you want them to be. Maybe you’re constantly making wide turns. Or maybe you just aren’t clocking the way you used to. Whatever the issue is, that is the last thing you want to focus on.
Instead, you need to be focusing on progress. For example, maybe your run wasn’t as fast as you would like it, but did you clock faster than the last time you made a run in that arena? Or maybe this time you were better able to finish the second barrel than you have in a long time.
Focus on the little improvements because, you know what? Those little things will gradually add up to a phenomenal run, kicking you right out of that barrel racing slump.
Living in the Past
There’s nothing that can get you into a barrel racing slump quite like a string of bad runs. One bad run. It happens. Two bad runs. Maybe we need some tuning. Three bad runs. Now we’ve got a problem. You start questioning everything: your ability to ride, the training you have put into your horse, your hours of practice.
And then, the next time you go to make a run, what do you do? Likely, you immediately start thinking about what went wrong the last time. If you hit the second barrel last time, you repeatedly tell yourself not to hit that barrel. You see it in your mind and that’s what you focus on.
I know it’s hard but you cannot focus on what happened last time. You will get stuck there. Your slump will become a permanent spot if you continue to have thoughts like that.
Instead, focus on the present. If you are about to make a run, focus on what you are doing at that very moment. What happened yesterday does not matter. Thinking about it doesn’t change it. Additionally, worrying about the future does no good either. You have no idea how things are going to turn out. All you can do is your best at this very moment.
Try focusing on each one of your senses. What do you smell? Does it smell like dust, horses and leather? What can you hear? Do you hear your horse’s footfall and the squeak of your saddle? Really get in the moment.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
When you are having a string of good runs, a barrel racing slump is not even on your radar and it is easy to stay motivated about achieving your goals. You pass mile markers on the way to your goals so quickly that you are laughing. It’s exciting and super motivating.
It’s a whole different story when you are in a barrel racing slump. Those dreams that motivated you so much only a few months ago now seem distant and foggy. They no longer motivate you. You may even begin to resent them and consider yourself foolish for even thinking you could achieve such lofty goals.
But this is when you need that motivation the most! Do whatever you can to hang onto your goals and the motivation that they bring. Watch inspiring barrel racing videos. Create a vision board. Write out in a journal all of the things that you have planned. Do whatever you have to do to keep that vision burning in your mind.
Got barrel racing dreams? You’re not alone.
Finish Line Thoughts
When you are in a barrel racing slump it can be so hard to climb out. You feel unmotivated and like you have wasted your time. With the help of the above strategies I hope that you will be able to get back on your horse with confidence, riding closer to your goals every single time you head down the alleyway.
And remember, it’s always a #gooddaytoride.
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