I recently read a story about a teenage girl being mocked for wearing a 5D buckle. This story got me thinking, not about how we as competitors and human beings should be kind (we should be anyway!), but rather about success. How does a person define success in the arena? What we don’t know about the girl is her story, did she win the 5D on her old faithful who isn’t fast but is fun to ride? Or did she win it on her colt, that she’s struggled with to gain confidence/speed/consistency? There are many ways that the girl of the story could have called that buckle a success, even when convention says that placing that far off the pace is not.
There are many ways that one can be successful. Let us defy convention and look at a few ways that read like success stories when one takes out the importance of buckles, prize money and the division system.
Winning. We all love to win, it gives us a rush and the check at the end of the jackpot doesn’t hurt either. Winning is what keeps us hooked, the checks help us make it to the next one. When going through a tough time, sometimes it is the memory of or the hope of winning that keeps us persevering. Is winning everything? No, but there is more to winning than making a check or winning the first place buckle.
To some, making a good run is all that matters. A certain calf roper once told me that he “would rather make a good run and win no money than have a terrible run make a check.” Sometimes the only thing we need is the feel of a good run, a job well done. Rodeo is tough, unpredictable things happen all the time and, as competitors, the trick is to roll with whatever gets thrown our way. Ground conditions can change rapidly, weather may play a factor, but if you and horse do the best you can then it is indeed “a good run.” I was at a rodeo in a few years ago when all I could do was make a good run. I was up in slack and right as they started the barrel racing, the skies opened up and made the arena dirt into class A gumbo. The crew tried to cope, but almost got the tractor stuck and the harrows were doing more harm than good so they switched the hand rakers. Nothing seemed to help. I think one girl in slack got a check from that rodeo. Sometimes the luck of the draw plays such a factor that all one can do is try make a run that one can be proud of.
Sometimes all one needs is progress. I have been struggling with Deuce and his first barrel since I started making runs on him. I was never sure if he would turn first, even when holding him back and coasting into it. I was so afraid of change that I didn’t start him running to the left until September of this year. Now he runs into first (to the left) and inhales it. Our second and third need work and confidence (he has been very left leaded since I’ve bought him). A successful run for me, right now, is Deuce having the confidence to run into second and third and to trust me to help him make those turns. I had two successful runs at the Montana Barrel Daze, mainly for that reason. My horse and myself made progress! Our second run was faster than our first and it was a huge confidence boost to both me and my horse.
The key to success in the arena is to assess your own goals and work towards accomplishing them. Define your own success. Do not let the “feed store” bullies jeer you into thinking that winning the 5D is not good enough. If your goal was to win the 5D or the 2D or even just place somewhere, then go after that goal! We can’t all win all the time, and not every horse is a pro caliber horse. If your goal is to “get with” your new horse or even a horse you have been struggling with, great! Create a relationship with that horse that enables you to trust him with your life when you ask him to run. If your goal is to train your own then do it! Everyone is different, every horse is different. Why not make specific goals for each individual horse? Do not let fear of failure, ridicule and change hold you back from setting specific goals and following your dreams!