Why Barrel Racing Stinks

I’m not going to lie to you. There are those days when it just doesn’t seem worth it. Those days when my “non-horse” friends are snuggled up in their nice warm houses while I’m out cleaning stalls and doctoring horses in 10 degree weather.

There’s something to be said for a boat or a snowmobile that you can leave parked for 9 months out of the year. There’s also something to be said for the fact that your boat won’t break through a fence at 3AM and require you getting out of bed to chase it down the street.

When’s the last time you went to the chiropractor? When’s the last time your horse did?

How much did you spend on your horses shoeing last year? How much did you spend on your own shoes?

Ever set down and penciled out what you spend on entry fees, vet bills, traveling expenses? My accountant had me do that this last year. I recommend including a bottle of wine in this process if you ever decide to try it.

Imagine the fancy house you could have in town if you didn’t have your place on acreage…

Then there are those long nights driving back from a weekend of races having not won a dime. Or how about tipping a barrel that cost you from winning a bundle. Those drives aren’t much easier.

Looked at your legs lately? If you’ve been running barrels for any length of time there’s a good chance you’ve got a few scars to prove it.

And there’s no guarantees.

I’ve won (or lost) just as much on the expensive horses as I have on the cheap ones. Just because I wrote a fat check for a new horse, doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good fit. I’ve ridden some nice horses, but I’ve also had a few donkeys that I lost my shorts on.

If there was some magic calculation that would guarantee success wouldn’t that make it easier… if you spend “this” much, and ride “this” often, and buy “this” saddle… But there’s not, and that’s why barrel racing stinks. That’s why sometimes it seems like it might be better to just sell it all and move on to something else.

But what else?

What else can compare to that euphoric feeling you get from laying down a wicked fast run on a good horse? That sense of excitement as you run through the gate during a performance at a Pro Rodeo. There’s something indescribable about that atmosphere. That energy that will transform even the most level-headed barrel horse into a fire-breathing, barrel turning machine that will give you the ride of your life. It’s fun to watch, but it’s a thousand times better to be on the back of that fire-breathing machine.

And if that horse is one you trained yourself? Forget it. Best. Feeling. Ever.

I think it has something to do with pride, or accomplishment, or working towards a goal. Whatever it is, there’s something about running barrels on a horse you made yourself that beats it all. Or at least it does it for me. Something about a partnership and a bond you get when you invest that much of yourself that doesn’t compare to anything else.

I’m sure there’s a certain personality type or genetic flaw that brought us all to this sport. A certain degree of insanity or at least lapses in judgement that allow us to justify the massive time and financial commitment we make to the sport we love. We are adrenaline junkies, we are workaholics, we are addicted and we are in good company.

So while barrel racing does stink sometimes, I can’t imagine my life without it. Can you?

Until next time ~ Jess

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