1. If you learn something, write it down. There are Barrel Racing Log books out there for just this purpose. Or you can just use any old piece of paper. If you need to remind yourself to ride two hands longer, or to look in a certain spot or any list of things, write it down. If you go to an arena and want to remember how you did or better yet, how you could have done better, write it down. If you want to remember what the ground was like and how you could have ridden accordingly, write it down. You can hear something and remember 10 percent of it. You can see something and remember 10 percent of it. But, if you write it down, you will remember so much more.

2. Slow and right is better than fast and wrong. Slow and right will also cut off the clock sooner than fast and wrong. You know how you can watch a barrel race and there are always those horses that do not look like they are going that fast and then have a really fast time, well this is because they were smooth and correct.

3. Always be positive. Think like a champion to become one. You can do it and you will. If you have not done well before in a particular arena, tell your self it is your favorite and you are going to master it and become a champion in that arena. You can imagine a good run and you can imagine a bad one. The one you imagine is the one that is going to happen. Never dwell on the bad runs you have made. Learn from your mistakes. Be confident, Can’t is not in your vocabulary - it is a useless word. You must trust yourself and your horse. You are a team, a winning team. Excuses, are just that. Believe in yourself and your horse. 

4. Learn good habits. Taking care of your horse is a habit. His feeding, shoeing and riding and how you do them are all habits that can be good or bad. Do you keep your horse in shape, or only ride on the weekends? Do you feed him on a schedule, or do you let him worry about his next meal? Do you give vaccinations and his deworming on schedule. Do you clean his feet daily and check his legs and back for soreness? These are some but not all of the habits that can made you a winner or a loser. The choice is yours.

5. Build your self-esteem. Believe me, looking nice when you go to the barrel races will help you to win. Having a clean and well cared for horse and a clean truck and trailer will also make you feel better about yourself and help make you a winner. You don’t have to have the most expensive tack but, having well cared for and clean tack will not only be safer it will build your self esteem. Feeling good about yourself will make you feel more confident.  Confidence is a necessary ingredient in winning.

6. Learn from adversity. Learn how to handle it when something goes wrong. Because you know that things will go wrong from time to time. If your horse goes by the first barrel, keep riding. Never quit when the money is up. Always remember, they pay more than one place. I have seen girls make it back to the finals round at big rodeos because they never gave up, even when they hit a barrel. You see two thirds of the other barrel racers also hit barrels. Some pulled up after the down barrel. Because she kept on riding she was fast enough, plus 5, to make it back to the finals round and have a shot at the big money. 

7. Learn from role models. Watch the winners. I am not talking about fashion here. Watch how they ride, where they take off for the barrel pattern from, how they handle their horses, everything you can. Watch how they warm up and how they cool down. Watch how they use their hands when they ride. Ask them questions. If you can, go and take lessons from someone who you admire. Most professional barrel racers are very friendly and want to help.

8. Be persistent. If you want it bad enough, never give up. If your horse is not the one you want, learn what you can from this horse and save your money until you can get the one you want. The real winners out there practice when the weather is not so good and when they may really feel like staying in the house. When they do have to stay in, they read about horsemanship or watch videos. They are persistent about improving. Where there is a will, there is a way. 

9. Thrive on pressure. You know that feeling where you can make a better run at home than you can at the race? Well that is the pressure of the race that is getting to you. Those butterflies you feel in your stomach, we all get those. But, can you make yours fly in formation. If you had no butterflies barrel racing would not be that exciting. So just train your butterflies and calm down.

10. Set goals. And writing them down is not a bad idea either. Set goals you can accomplish. For instance, I am going to ride my horse 5 days this week. Or I am going to stop hitting barrels. Or whatever you current problem is. You can also set goals in steps.  Not that you are going to win the world, but you are going to win the local club. Then move up one step at a time. Another good goal is just to improve your time at a particular arena. But, without goals you are just going around in circles.

11. Learn how to take success. It is harder to be a gracious winner then it is to be a gracious loser. If you don’t do well at a race, please do not take it out on your horse. He will not know what he did wrong once he left the arena. And please do not train in the arena during a race. It is not fair to the next person that has to run the pattern. Never forget that there are animal rights folks out there that would love to have us stop running barrels. So do not get after your horse, even in the slightest, in front of the public. Now when you win. If someone gives you a complement or congratulations don’t say “ well I or my horse did this or that and could have been better or on and on and on etc.” just say thank you and leave it at that. And when someone else wins, be sure and give them a compliment. Don’t be a sore loser. Be a champion.

12. Be organized. As a rule, when you get to the barrel race have all your stuff. Don’t make a habit of having to borrow things. We should all help each other when needed but, don’t make a habit of being needy. If your horse needs medicine, have it.  If you watch the “big girls” they are all very organized. You have to be very organized to win.

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