Lessons from the Road: Three Steps to Embrace Challenges, Build Character and Create a Winning Edge

Lessons from the Road: Three Steps to Embrace Challenges, Build Character and Create a Winning Edge

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When it comes to achieving excellence in any area of life, it’s not a matter of IF we’ll face challenges, but WHEN. Contrary to what some of us may think (especially when we’re feeling discouraged), it’s not the actual challenges that hold us back, but how we handle them.

Take Amberly Snyder for example. Did you know she clocked her fastest time on the barrel pattern AFTER the car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down? Pretty amazing.

Consider for a moment how EASY it is to convince ourselves “Well, I can’t do this because __this happened__.” We’re often so quick to tell ourselves stories about how and why we can’t do something, even more so when adversity strikes.

Don’t get me wrong, of course we’re all faced with legitimate limitations at times. But our mess can become our message, and our setback can shape our comeback.

In today’s installment of Lessons From the Road, I’ll be sharing three steps to make it more likely that the journey to achieving your barrel racing goals will be a steady climb, regardless of obstacles and setbacks that will inevitably get in your way.

#1. Expect the Unexpected
I’m all for thinking positive but I’m completely against “blissful ignorance.” The other day my gelding took a bad spill on a slick trailer ramp. He seemed to regain his composure quickly but of course I was concerned. My husband Craig, whom I’m eternally grateful to for his support, encouraged me not to worry and said “Ah, he’s OK!” (Didn’t Corban do a video on how team ropers vs. barrel racers care for their horses!?)

Ummm, NO. The truth is that that career ending injuries can happen with one misstep and just because that little misstep doesn’t produce immediate and severe lameness, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed with a “better safe than sorry” approach – which in our case has so far included some R&R, microcurrent treatments, ice, hand walking sweating, etc. While there is a time and place to just “cowgirl up,” I don’t think it’s possible to be an over-reactive barrel racing hypochondriac in this situation.

When I’m traveling and competing, I certainly don’t obsess over, or have a fear of “what might happen.” Without being anything close to a Negative Nelly, I also know that “missteps” WILL happen – as in truck breakdowns, horse injuries, and more. Again, it’s not IF – it’s WHEN. These kind of challenges are simply part of the game.

If we go about our barrel racing thinking “that will never happen to me,” it will be much more difficult to handle when it DOES. When we expect challenges to come up, we can prepare for and address them without additional emotional strain (which only creates yet another level of setback that must also be overcome) and embrace them as part of the rodeo road adventure.

Speaking of adventure, you’ll enjoy reading The Truth About Chasing Your Barrel Racing Dreams (and Why You Don’t Have a Choice).

#2. Prepare for the Unexpected
Every time we make a mistake, and even every time someone else makes a mistake – it brings about an opportunity, a lesson to learn and a solution to apply. Each mistake is one we don’t have to make again. That’s my goal! I’m a problem solver at heart. I just love identifying how things can be improved and doing my part to make everything the best it can be. The more mistakes we make, the more experiences we have to guide and shape our decisions, that ultimately help us avoid those mistakes in the future – essentially amplifying and fast forwarding our success.

But trust me on this – there’s not enough time for you to learn ALL the barrel racing lessons there are the hard way! That’s where being prepared (and reading articles like this one) come in. When going down rodeo road, or even on a couple hour trip to a weekend barrel race, there’s one area of preparedness that comes to mind and ranks in importance above all others: your wheels. By this I mean your literal wheels, as in your truck and trailer, AND in a figurative sense: your mode of transportation through the actual barrel pattern (your horse).

Think ahead about every possible emergency scenario that could play out, and make a list of the items you’d need to get through that situation, and then pack at least double the supplies you might need! This goes for Vet. supplies, spare tires and everything in between.

I know storage is limited in our trucks and trailers, but so is cell service and so is our ability to run around town collecting necessary supplies in a big rig. When you’re prepared for “the unexpected” (which is really “the inevitable”), even if you do experience a setback it’s more likely to be minor one with minimal recovery time.

For trouble-free trailering, first aid check-lists and more, check out Start Your Summer Barrel Racing Season Right.

#3. Positively Perceive the Unexpected
If we can make up negative or discouraging “stories” when things go wrong, we also have the ability to turn around those stories and look at them from another angle. I don’t know about you, but every so often – especially it seems when I’m on the verge of a big trip or achieving a major goal I sometimes get pummeled with a random string of “bad luck.”

I’m not sure it’s really bad luck, however. Call it resistance or even the devil trying his best to keep you from God’s work, I feel as though part of our preparation is choosing a perspective for when these inevitable challenges arise.

Consider this: If you weren’t out there trying to do something amazing, you wouldn’t be dealing with challenges. The only way to avoid adversity is to do nothing – and that’s NOT an option! Here’s the thing, eating Doritos on the couch while you watch the NFR on TV is easy. Taking the steps day in and day out over the course of many years to actually get there yourself, is not. But it’s better to dare to achieve great things and fail (or have it take 20+ years) than to never try.

Secondly, consider the challenges you face, even the ones at home that seem to prevent you from your rodeo road dreams, as character building exercises – they are ALL part of the preparation for the BIGGER journeys ahead. Whenever I learn a little lesson, like remembering to ask my horses to be EXTRA slow and careful on the trailer ramp (and instilling the education necessary so they can be), I think to myself – I’m glad I had this reminder now, instead of later when even more was on the line.

Staying on track in this area requires some action steps as well. Consider what kind of structure helps keep you together in trying times and have those established to support you. That might be keeping in touch with loved ones, eating healthy, daily inspirational reading, etc. You may need to amp up here as well because remember – you’re bound to face a whole new level of challenges when traveling well beyond those you face at home or as a weekend warrior.

To recall valuable lessons from this time last year, check out Five Powerful Tips for Turning a Setback into a Comeback!.

If you have NFR goals, regardless of how close or far away they are, let me remind you that who rolls into Vegas in December is not so much about who got the lucky breaks through the year, because no one can coast through the whole year on luck alone.

Who comes out on top has a lot more to do with preparation and perspective. It’s a matter of how each athlete handles the the challenges they face… that’s what determines winners in the end. Of course having a super talented horse, or big time financial backing helps, but it’s not everything – it’s what we DO with the resources we have that matters most.

There will always be things that occur that are out of our control, but how we prepare for them, and how we think about them ARE within our control, and ultimately play a big part in sharpening our winning edge!

In the comments, share a challenge you’ve faced recently + what you’ve done to stay on track.

For more encouragement and support to prepare for your summer travels, enjoy these related posts:

3 replies
  1. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    My set back didn’t start lately, this is the end of it thank goodness! I went from champ to chump in a heart beat. Then Everytime I turned around my mare got her butt in a crack, I doctored and doctored then the day came she was healed, all seemed sound. So we legged up, aired up and went for it, I thought my head was in the right place. But no matter what I did something was wrong, we could not clock anywhere close to where we w2ere! Then my husband took a video of us, when I saw that I cried! The look on my face was fear, I was scared but how could I be scared of a horse that I trained and had been riding for 16 yrs. I had lost all Confidence in myself and my horse was trying to take care of me the only way she knew how, just like she has done for yrs. So I knew I had to fix me someway! It’s been a yr. and my heart and soul along with my head seem to be on the same page, I’m happy again and loving life. The verdict is still out but we are going after the money again! When you get alittle age on you and stop for what ever reason it is really hard to come back, but it is do able ! Have a good day.

  2. Cassondra
    Cassondra says:

    My biggest challenge is myself! I have a powerful horse that myself, and two trainers have all put time into! She is great! I have had her a year and a half and the best time we have ran in an arena is 19.6 and she continues to hit barrels. I let myself get so discouraged and then I quit working or weeks! I recently decided I am nit going to let myself do that anymore! I am not taking her back to the arena until I feel I am ready! Its not fair to her to work so hard and then I set her back! I should be proud of her work because the first time I ever took her to an arena we ran a 24!!! So to drop almost 5 seconds even if she isn’t a winner shows me she is working very hard! I feel like I hold her back and I let her drop into the barrels so we are working every week to become more confident with each other and get in the best shape we can!


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