I have ridden many horses, but I’m by no means a trainer. I’ve shaken hands with big names and witnessed their mentorships affect dozens of riders. I’ve traveled thousands of miles to various rodeos and barrel races, just to watch. Over the past seventeen years of my life, I’ve not only watched but also observed and pondered the barrel racing industry.
One recent observation was after a race we’d finished. I was in the entry office scrolling through Facebook comments and questions after posting results. Shortly after, I saw this comment,
This was our first time attending one of your races and the person in the office was very nice. I went in to get a check and the lady in there greeted us by name, congratulated, and thanked us for coming. That’s unheard of in this industry. We’ll defiantly be back. Keep up the good work!”
Let’s focus on one tiny sentence, “That’s unheard of in this industry!”
Don’t know about you, but I’m a man of simple rules who takes those rules very seriously. They say the third time’s the charm, and this was the third time within a month or two we’d been recognized for showing appreciation.
No, it’s not all producers, associations or clubs, but that’s a tell-tale sign of the lack of appreciation our industry has, and it disappoints me. You know those scenes when kids toss school papers in the air once schools out? Imagine that but me sliding down into a chair as my iPhone belly flops to death from my hand with an adult life twist. Have a shattered screen to prove it.
While there are producers who do show appreciation, it still dumbfounds me to think any producer wouldn’t. I know first hand what barrel racers face to achieve satisfaction. They spend an average of 3 hours (depending on how many horses/type of job they have) a day tending to their horses for 3-6 months before reaping results. That’s also assuming nothing faults in the process.
Their favorite season is spring because they’ll have more check marks on their to-do list that never ends. It’s their favorite because ride time goes up thirty minutes. Not that it’s a huge difference; my point is daylight savings makes’em feel a little better.
Most racers plan two weeks in advance if not more gathering funds for entry fees. See, entry fees come after paying the farrier, for feed and hay, and maybe a vet bill or supplements. Then comes the math to calculate the just right amount of diesel to fill the truck, assuming the balled trailer tires don’t blow out.
Let’s also not forget their guilty pleasure of rolling through Starbucks, no, not for the cute guy at the window, but because how wide their pupils get for that Everything Bagel, toasted w/cream cheese, on the side of a Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew. Even Fallon Taylor got time for that!
Finally, and I could go on, competitors spend hours of their time with these stresses mentioned and others not, to travel hundreds of miles to an “extravagant” race. They pray at night for their horse to win money so they can buy the just right amount of diesel again to go home.
Remember, I’m not a committed rider, so let’s assume everything I’ve said is an understatement. You’re telling me, based on what I saw to be an actual observation, after everything barrel racers bare, some producers still don’t have the simple decency to say “thank you”?
Barrel racers don’t show up to races for a producer’s clout. If you’re a producer or someone starting to produce, Barrel racers don’t care about you. Barrel racers put up with what they put up with for their horses, period.
Their horse is their confidence. It’s their reputation, happiness, social life/status, an indirect coach, and what I call mental gravity, keeping them grounded in the messed up world around them.
I know when a barrel racer loses their horse; they lose everything, themselves and then some. Like a fly going in and out of your peripheral vision, it’s quick, you’re aware what’s going on, but it’s so unclear. When they lose their purpose, what’s a producer to matter?
Great power is held by generosity and understanding what you just read. One thing I’ll make very clear is Go Fast Races is not an association or club, it is a business. Racers who race and show loyalty to us are our bread and butter and will be treated as so. We are not producing to provide barrel racers a favor. We are producing to provide barrel racers a service. There’s a gargantuan difference in the two statements.