One way to be successful at what you do is to set a goal that’s realistic for your lifestyle. Wishing you could make the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) and making the NFR are two different things.

When you set a goal make sure it’s attainable. If, for instance, your goal is to make it to the NFR, but you’ve got a horse with a limited amount of runs because of some physical problems, then that goal is unrealistic. Maybe a better goal would be to make the circuit finals, so you’d have to travel less.

I’ve had city kids who don’t get to ride a horse very often come to me. They’re over­weight because they sit in the house every­day and watch television. “I’m going to be just like you. I’m going to be at the NFR one day,” they say.

I don’t see that happening.

On the other hand, if a girl who lives on a ranch, rides everyday, takes good care of horses says, “I’m going to make the NFR” I think she might have a chance.

Of course, there are exceptions. A city girl who works on a ranch, is extremely blessed with talent and spends a lot of time riding might also be able to make it happen.

I often see riders who buy expensive horses and big trucks and trailers even before they’re winning. Just because you can buy it doesn’t mean you can ride it. If you spend $200,000, then don’t take care of your horse properly, or don’t spend enough time with him, it’s not going to work for you.

One of the best things parents can tell their children is, “Do your best.” Encour­agement works far better than force. But parents must remember that their children have to want it. They should make them earn the privilege of going down the road and competing. A good plan would be to sit down as a family and set reachable goals. Once each goal is reached, a new goal can be set. Each goal is a stair step to a bigger one.

Parents should also monitor their chil­dren’s progress and not be afraid to disci­pline them if necessary. For example, if a young rider lets her temper get the best of her and she jerks and whips her horse, her parents should reprimand her. They shouldn’t allow the child’s temper to ruin the horse or their investment.

Having a good attitude in competition is important, no matter what. If you can’t have a good attitude at a barrel race, you probably shouldn’t be there. Do something you enjoy. If you’ve gotten so serious about barrel racing that you’ve sucked the joy right out of it, that’s wrong.

Also, be honest with yourself. If you’re running 3D times (a rating system insti­tuted by the National Barrel Horse Asso­ciation), a good goal would be to win in 2D. Then, when you accomplish that goal, set a higher goal. By the way, if you can run 2D times, I think it’s good to run in ama­teur rodeos just to get some experience under your belt.

Don’t try to jump from jackpots to pro­fessional rodeos. It can be discouraging if you don’t do well, so go to some amateur rodeos as a transition.

The competition at amateur rodeos isn’t usually as tough as on the pro circuit. Once you’ve mastered winning amateur rodeos, you’ll have more confidence going on to professional rodeos. Don’t make the mis­take of thinking it’s going to be real easy, anywhere. Competition is tough, no mat­ter how it looks from the stands.

Once you’ve set a goal, the second step is to plan how you’re going to accomplish it. Clearly identify where you are right now, then decide how you’re going to reach it. What are you going to do to reach your goal? How much will it cost? Can you afford it? What events will you have to go to?

As you begin competing; evaluate your progress along the way. Give yourself cred­it for improvement and, by the same token, take responsibility for things that go wrong. Sometimes, in concentrating on a goal, you might forget the basics. If you make mistakes, go back to your basics.

And remember, that even though you might not have reached your goal, you’re farther ahead of where you were. You’ve begun. And every winner was once a beginner.

Excerpt from “Charmayne James on Barrel Racing” Chapter 4 – The Strategy of Competition. By Charmayne James with Cheryl Magoteaux


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