What Makes Great Barrel Racers?
What’s the difference between good barrel racers and great ones? Personally, I’m a cutthroat competitor. I’d rather die than be average at what I do, and no, I’m not kidding. Throughout my early career, that’s what set and still sets me apart from everyone. I’m willing to burn for everything I want and love.
Most people think a top barrel racers behavior is produced by their prestige when it’s the opposite. Their prestige is produced by their behavior. This is where people fail to understand greatness. Specific wants have requirements; requirements you must meet to reap the specific outcome. You can’t have a six-pack/bubble butt first and live healthy second. You must live healthy first and you’ll reap a six-pack/bubble butt second.
Remember Newton’s law, for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction? That law applies to everything in our physical world, including you and me. Regardless if you want to be a professional baseball player, NASCAR Driver, Chest Master or barrel racers, you must behave equal and opposite of what you want reciprocated in return. It’s a literal science and I believe great competitors, great barrel racers, understand that.
To make a name for yourself in any profession, you must do what’s required to create that name in that profession. In barrel racing specifically, you have to win, a lot. This is the paradigm of our sport. To make it big, you have to consistently win back-to-back, for an elongated period of time.
How does one do that? Most people perceive this question like a complex algebra problem. When you initially see it, you’re discouraged to try. But the “algebra problem” isn’t the actual problem. The issue is whether or not you’re willing to act. It’s either you’re willing to do what’s required, or you’re not. That choice is weighed on how badly you want to “solve” the “problem”.
If you’re willing, here are three steps you can apply starting today.
Step. 1) Reps & Sets
I’m a frequent gym goer and the power of repetition is deceiving. I see results in the gym by putting time into my reps and sets over and over, repeating and following rules I learned years ago. What’s a bet you too were taught something years ago you still applying today when saddling or riding?
Every sport urges repetition. You must put your time in. It’s cliché to say practice for 10,000 hours and be great. It’s cliché because it works and it works because it’s true. Everyone knows you have to fork over the time necessary to achieve greatness but it would’ve helped me tremendously if I understood why.
When you repeat an action, or process of actions, for long periods of time, they become automatic. It becomes where you don’t have to think consciously about what you’re doing. The action/process becomes subconscious. You literally program your brain to act automatically once you’ve repeated the action/process enough.
Why is this important? When you automate something, it allows you to focus on things you couldn’t before. For example, why do most people drive automatic cars vs. manuals? With an automatic transmission, you can do more! You can pay more attention to the road, down a RedBull, pick your nose or reply to your BFF with a cute selfie who secretly wants you to wreck because you beat her by a thousandth.
Do what works over and over until it becomes so fluent you never have to think about it. Doing this allows you to flip into a full auto mode we’ll talk about here later.
Step. 2) Game Time Is Game Time
I’m a party animal with the right people. Barrel races can be a great place for social buzz and interaction, but game time is game time. Competitive riders pay serious attention to their craft, which requires focus.
When top riders are X amount of time from their run, ever notice they’re hard to find or nowhere to be found at all? Notice how they warm up or sit in the holding pen alone? Ever tried speaking to them and while they respond, it’s surface level and non-engaging?
Separating yourself from “the crowd” affects your outcomes tremendously. When you isolate yourself, what else is there to do but visualize the run you’re about to make?
I’ve seen many riders double down on their mental game, including my sister. Not only did she see results, she started loosing “friends” because she started winning, all the time.
Give yourself time to grasp your mental game, and watch it erupt. You’ll paradigm shift into an awareness of yourself and horse you didn’t have before. From there, over time, you develop your own pre-game. develop what works and never change it. Some pros even start days before an event depending on the horse.
Taking time to focus on your game prior to running is like making your bed in the morning. You start off with a win and carry that momentum through the day.
Step. 3) B to B.
Barrel racing is insanely complex. Because we ask our horse to do something so unnatural to them, it creates the quirkiest hurdles. There are so many factors that come into play when you ask a half-ton animal to whip around a barrel in half a second and to do so three times in less than 16.
I addressed step 1 and 2 first because it’s easy to overthink this sport. How many times have you made a bit change 5 min before a run? Count the times you’ve felt stuck trying to diagnose whether or not your horse needs injections or a checkup for a bigger problem? How often are you unsure of what to do or think?
Apply this step when you’re entering an ally to make a run. Assuming you follow step 1 and 2, (establish those first) this is where the reps & sets take the reins. When you enter the alleyway, this is when you go back to basics. This is when you stop thinking about details and only focus on the basics.
It’s where you get in the “Zone”, a heightened performance state. If you’ve played sports before, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’re able to see the present moment so clearly, it’s like time literally slows down, allowing you to perform like never before
If you would like a text to read up on, Mind Gym, by Gary Mack is a great place to start. He talks about everything mentioned above.
How’d I do? Email your comments & feedback to: Gilly@gofastraces.com