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A genuine, intense and foundational love of horses is what inspires me, not just to be a top barrel racer, but a true horseman. It’s a fascination that borders the edge of obsession – and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Figuring out how both human AND horse can come together and truly WIN (in the barrel racing arena especially), is my passion.
So you can imagine my disappointment, when after taking six months off from riding to bring Secrets to Barrel Racing Success to life in 2012, just months after it’s launch, and days before my gelding and I were scheduled to return to competition, he came up mysteriously lame.
Little did I know then, that such an adverse circumstance would lead me on one of the greatest personal development journeys of my life.
I often refer to 2013 as the year I took my barrel horse through physical rehabilitation, and my husband’s rope horse through mental rehabilitation. I didn’t expect either to take nearly as long, but then there were a lot of unexpected surprises along the way!
In my never-ending quest for becoming an all-around excellent horseman, outside of barrel racing I’ve enjoyed experiences that range from showing hunt seat equitation, to starting colts, creating positive breakthroughs for troubled horses, achieving success in reining, and more.
I should add however, that just doing all these things doesn’t mean a rider is on a path to becoming a true horseman, in fact, far from it. I believe the importance is in how you go about it, the things you learn, the way you grow and change, and who you become as a result.
Today’s article is about the powerful insight I gained through what many would consider a very atypical path for a barrel racer to follow. But then, I never claimed to be a “typical barrel racer!”
You may wonder, why I would I bother to put so much effort into becoming so well-rounded? While it’s NOT my goal to become a “jack of all trades and a master of none,” the truth is – there is much more to barrel racing, than barrel racing.
It’s my desire to help barrel racers and their horses achieve as much success as possible. I’m deeply committed to doing my very best at that, and therefore feel as though it’s necessary to grow and expand myself in many ways.
So with my own gelding sidelined and my husband wrapped up in the details of our cross country move, I suddenly had free rein with a special rope horse named “Dot Com.”
So I turned him loose… and we had a blast.
Although Dot Com and I made tons of progress under saddle, and traveled many miles together in 2013, the main highlights of our year occurred as I ran beside him or he circled around me sans round pen in the pasture at our new home in Texas.
I learned that when remove our horse’s tack, there is only one thing left – the truth.
Whether it’s a pretty picture initially or not, there are great things to learn by taking the “do more with less” theme to the highest levels.
Not everyone can handle the truth.
Dot Com and I bared ugly parts of ourselves to each other this summer, but in the end transformed it all into something beautiful. It was a long journey of ups and downs, mistakes and success, failure and ultimately, victory.
Although he has not yet returned to the roping pen, I feel like I’ve won something even greater. Once we have our horse’s heart, many of the obstacles in our way dissolve.
What it comes down to is that the keys to positively influencing a horse’s behavior, and even movement, lie in understanding and influencing how they think and FEEL.
Working at liberty turned out to be a both an incredible and deeply involved study and experiment in horse behavior and psychology. My time with Dot Com revealed my weaknesses, inspired personal breakthroughs, and required me to learn their language better, which transfers over and will improve everything I could ever dream of doing with horses.
I don’t expect everyone to take their exploration of liberty as far as I did. There’s no doubt, however that my detour away from competing last year has prepared me to better assist barrel racers and their horses in achieving success, in the arena and out.
I feel as though I’ve reached a new level of maturity in my horsemanship that words cannot fully express. So I’ve put together a short video below that I hope will help fill the gaps that words can’t.
Enjoy, and let me know what you think in the comments below!
To learn more about my journey with Dot Com toward higher level horsemanship visit:
- Powerful Insights on Becoming a Horse(wo)man, Part II
- Powerful Insights on Becoming a Horse(wo)man, Part III
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