Another round, another chance to observe the top fifteen of the world. Instead of analyzing every run in this post, I’m going to post about the thing that bonked me over the head as I watched the round last night. I’m talking about timing. I hear bronc riders, bull riders and calf ropers talk about timing, but I rarely hear about it in barrel racer speak.
It is critical to have timing with you horse during a run. A lack of timing could lead to blowing by barrels, hitting barrels and other things of a not-good nature that we barrel racers don’t like to talk about it. Our timing varies from run to run. It depends on the arena size, alleyway set up, ground conditions, and other general conditions such as a performance, slack, young horse or old campaigner and possibly our run number.
I am going to talk about four runs from round two: Kimmie Wall, Lisa Lockhart, Sarah Rose and Sherry Cervi. These runs really stood out to me (exclamations on my notes of their runs, kind of stand out) and I thought I should write about them!
- Kimmie/Foxy: Kimmie came in aggressive and found the sweet spot to transition from two hands to one on the first barrel. She was able to power out the turn and hustle Foxy into second for a beautiful turn. Same goes for third barrel where she finished strong for a 13.79 to win the round.
- Lisa/Louie: You can’t beat this pair’s timing on first barrel! It was just beautiful last night (no leg lift needed!) She knew exactly when to hold Louie off that barrel and when to let him come in for that beautiful turn. Same goes for their second barrel where Lisa set him up and let him do his job. Third barrel was tight, but Lisa held in off until he was in position to turn.
- Sarah/Bling: Sarah stayed two hands (despite Bling’s exuberance in the alleyway!) into first barrel until the sweet spot so that Bling still had enough room to make a beautiful turn. Bling was making Sarah work going into second barrel, but they made it work with a tight turn. Third barrel was beautiful with Sarah staying aggressive and letting Bling work like we all know she can.
- Sherry/Arson: Sherry really handled first barrel well last night, asking Arson to rate and really riding him through the turn making what could have been a rough barrel into a smooth turn, setting up a nice run. She helped him frame up and hustle into second barrel where he worked like a bad cat! They bobbled on third, but kept it up and placed in the round.
How can I get timing like this? You may ask, I don’t have a solid answer, but I think I have some advice that might help you achieve better timing.
- Ride everyday- I think good timing comes from knowing your horse (see Round 1 Analysis) and what better way than to ride everyday.
- Make runs- I am not saying run your horse everyday. The top 15 haul to 70+ rodeos a year (that isn’t counting barrel races, futurities and all that jazz!). Those numbers aren’t for everyone but I think we have to make runs (at jackpots, rodeos, etc) to get with our horses and establish a bond to build on. I remember knowing how my good horse was going to handle a particular set up by just glancing at the arena, but I had hauled her for 9 years through high school, college, amateur and pro rodeos and you can’t substitute that knowledge by not entering.
- Work out- how can we have good timing if we can’t stay centered? We need a stable core, dynamic hips and strength in both our upper body and our legs.
- Try to get in the arena before the event- I looooove watching the barrel racers during the NFR practice. It is really enlightening, but it has a purpose other than for our viewing pleasure. It allows competitors to get their horses used to the arena. I know this isn’t always possible, but if the arena is open- get your butt in there!
- Get a coach- I’m not saying you have to hire a coach or a trainer (you could, if that is something you can afford!), but find a friend that is willing to look at videos and critique your runs with you. A second pair of eyes (or third, or fourth…) can help you see things that you might not notice as you are making your run. My coaches include by husband, my travel partners, cousin-in-law and my sisters (I think I may have a village!)