Every rodeo athlete has been there, you’re excelling in the arena, placing well at just about every rodeo or jackpot you enter, winning saddles and belt buckles left and right, then one day, out of the blue, you find yourself in a slump. You’re hitting barrels, not catching your calf or missing your dally. Every rodeo athlete has experienced a slump
My senior year of high school, I rode a big gray horse named Cobb. Now Cobb was never the fastest horse but he was always consistent, which in the sport of rodeo everyone knows consistency is key. Then one day he just quit turning the first barrel. He would turn it about half way hit the fence and then run up the fence. This went on for months and months. It got to the point where I would get so nervous I could barely sleep the night before a rodeo. I would be warming up my horse going over my run in my head, and then I would let my nerves get to me and end up crying. Then it would happen again and I would come out of the arena in tears and head straight back to the trailer, cry some more and then get ready for the pole bending in which I rode the same horse and he would make a smoking run (most of the time)
We tried everything- changing bits, taking him to left instead of the right, chiropractic work, completely changing the way I ride, and nothing was working. I was in a slump. I was done with barrel racing. I was done with horses. I wanted to quit it all but my parents kept pushing me to not give up on something that I loved so much. Finally one day we found out what was causing him to not turn and I thought my troubles were finally over! One new saddle later and we were still having the same problem. I lost my trust in Cobb and belief in myself. Luckily, we have great friends with good horses.
This is when Sarge came in to my life. When people look at Sarge they probably just see him as your average sorrel barrel horse but to me he hung the moon. He put the fun back in to barrel racing. After what seemed like a decade, I finally came out of the arena with a smile on my face after my barrel run. No, we didn’t win the rodeo or the barrel race but he did his job with no questions asked. I owe everything to Sarge. Sarge allowed me to gain my confidence back in the arena and on a horse. It’s been two years since that slump and sometimes I still fear the first barrel but Sarge always reassures me that everything will be fine. If it wasn’t for Sarge I wouldn’t be on my college rodeo team, and if I wasn’t on my college rodeo team, I’m not quite sure my college career would be as successful as it is now.
Even the best rodeo athletes have hit a slump, but I am sure that they will all agree with me when I say that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Stay just a little bit longer at practice until you get it just right. Seek help from your coach or even your teammates. No matter what obstacles you have to overcome in the arena just know that you’re not alone and the slump that you’re in will be over soon. Stay positive and keep pushing to be better than you were yesterday. It will all be worth it in the end.
Pictures Courtesy Of: Saddle Online, & Brooks Captured Moments
June 16, 2017