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In all areas of my life, “peeling back the layers” is something that has changed it for the better, so it seemed like a subject more than worthy of sharing. Like the contents of my book, “Secrets to Barrel Racing Success,” this web site provides technical information, but is unique in that it goes even deeper to uncover “the REAL secrets,” the things that matter, but aren’t always addressed through mainstream educational resources for barrel racers.
I’ve experienced it myself, and know many other barrel racers have as well… We set out to sharpen up our barrel horse, troubleshoot an issue on the pattern, get that elusive last ½ second… We flounder around, some light bulbs go off, we get excited, then hit a wall, redirect again, repeat….
Eventually we go back to the drawing board, and proclaim (either out loud or to ourselves), “I AM doing THIS and THIS, I have done ALL THIS, and my horse STILL isn’t ( fill in the blank )!!!” It’s like we try hard, we study up, we put the time in, we feel like we’re doing EVERYTHING. Things improve a bit, we get our hopes up, but eventually realize that it’s STILL not enough! Ugh. Some of us, shaking our head, confess, “I just don’t think HE (the horse) has IT,” (the speed, athleticism, mind, etc.). We think “If only HE would just do this ____________!” or say “Well, ya know, he’s just so front endy, sore, not fast enough, or too sensitive…” it goes on and on.
Of course, if you want to take your barrel racing to the highest levels, the horse DOES matter – A LOT! BUT, if you’re not aware of where your weaknesses lie, then, in your hands, even an NFR quality horse, isn’t likely to stay that way. I will say, that having the opportunity to experience a wide variety of horses, AND more advanced horses, can teach us a lot, and can really sky rocket our learning. However, until we take a good look at ourselves, and fill in our own gaps, the same problems are bound to keep repeating themselves, in one way or another, even with different horses.
If you’re serious about shedding what holds you back, then it’s time to get “naked.” You must be willing to peel back the layers of your own horsemanship and personal “onion.” Not everyone is ready and willing to embrace this process. It’s means becoming vulnerable, releasing attachment to what other people think, being honest about the source of our challenges, and deep down, that can be scary. Most people opt to point the finger, blame the horse, or the ground, etc. and generally keep the focus outside of themselves. Looking within, owning our weaknesses, and admitting that we don’t know it all or have it all together, can be downright uncomfortable.
When we choose to GET REAL, however, we realize there is great freedom in it. Until we go to our core – the core of our joy, our frustrations – we’ll stay stuck. Until we get real and true about our desires and motivation, we’re not even living authentically – and that’s no way to live. Only when we go to the source, can we reach solutions and achieve real, lasting growth that takes us to the next level in barrel racing AND life.
Eventually, staying stuck becomes more painful than getting REAL.
Some people struggle with taking responsibility for and “owning” mistakes, they have a hard time separating themselves from what they do, so admitting fault is not a fun thing. But this IS NOT personal (WE are not our mistakes). When we take responsibility for our “stuff,” instead of pointing the finger, it actually opens a huge door – like an enormous blinking arrow sign pointing us in the direction we REALLY need to go. We can choose whether to ignore the signs, or graciously and humbly follow them.
Peeling back the layers often happens gradually, but the process can also occur in the form of a huge wake-up call. After you begin to embrace the process, it’s really not too painful, it’s more liberating and freeing than anything, and I actually embrace it. I ask, how can I reach higher (while still maintaining feelings of contentedness with where I’m at now)? What can I do to be a better friend, wife, horse trainer, barrel racer?
I mention in my book, that our learning often spirals in nature. We’ll often revisit the same areas down the road, and peel back another layer and awaken to new awareness that results in more growth. If we’re “doin’ it right,” it will be an UPWARD spiral!
Peeling back the layers and revealing the TRUTH means we must ask the right questions. All too often, we avoid asking, for fear of the answer. We’d rather ask questions that have answers we’re comfortable with.
What if the REAL reason you feel pressured to win is because you seek the approval of others? What if the REAL reason you have gate trouble with your horse is because he has a serious underlying physical problem? What if the REAL reason your horse doesn’t uphold his responsibilities is due to your lack of consistency? What if the REAL reason you’re not clocking is because you need to become a better rider? What is the REAL reason you’re stuck is not that you need more knowledge, but more feel. What if the REAL reason you’re still struggling on the pattern is because, you really have NOT “done everything!” What if the REAL reason your horse loses focus is because you’re not providing the leadership he needs? What if the REAL reason your horse shows resistance and raises his head is because he was never taught to properly respond to bit pressure? What if the REAL reason your horse fell has more to do with how he’s using his body, than ground conditions? What if the REAL reason you’re so frustrated is that you need to learn how to better develop your horse’s education? What if the REAL reason your horse doesn’t want to stand still is because he doesn’t feel safe? What if the REAL reason your horse doesn’t run faster is due to lack of confidence?
You may be feeling like a big band aid has just been ripped off, OR you may be thinking, “Yeah, a lot of people should really GET A CLUE,” and if so, consider it a red flag.
“If you start to think the problem is “out there,” stop yourself. That thought is the problem.” – Stephen Covey
This article is meant to wake you up and shake you up a bit. The purpose is to create shifts in perception, help solve long standing problems, and bust through limitations. Look deep at (you AND your horse’s) educational and emotional foundations, and you’ll be amazed at what you discover.
Peeling back the layers, and getting real, requires a high degree of awareness, risk, vulnerability, courage, honesty and integrity. Getting real might mean exposure, it might mean going against the grain, it might mean temporary loss, it might even mean major life changes.
Fearlessly pose the right questions, and see where it takes you. Below are a few to get started:
- Why do you love barrel racing?
- Why are you driven to be the best?
- What would it take to overcome your biggest barrel racing challenge?
- What is in the way of achieving what you desire in barrel racing?
- What is the real reason your horse has _________________ problem?
- Who is responsible for creating and resolving that problem?
- Do you feel like you won’t be fulfilled and happy until you accomplish your goals?
- When and why do you experience the greatest frustration with horses?
- When and why do you experience the greatest joy with horses?
If the questions above seem especially easy to answer, also consider that a red flag and continue probing – in response to your initial answer, ask “WHY?” again. If any of them are difficult to answer, think on it for a while and come back. Authenticity requires going deep, the answers may or may not come to you instantly. In fact, because our awareness grows over time, you might ask these same questions often, without assuming you already know the answers.
When we go to the source, when we get connected to the “why,” we get REAL. Instead of pointing fingers, we just humbly peel back another layer, which actually inspires another trip around the upward spiral. We don’t cover up and disguise our challenges, but instead get honest, go deep – right to the source, to dissolve our road blocks and move completely through to the other side.
Peeling back the layers also means being uniquely YOU. When you’re no longer driven by fear, or other artificial motives, you become what you love, and you do it every day, because you can’t NOT do it. You no longer compromise, you no longer hold back.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin
When we get real, we remove limitations – we’re suddenly on the fast track to success. We’re confident, we’re free… and it doesn’t get any better.
How does this post resonate with YOU?
Let me know in the comments below!