Charmayne James and “Cruiser” (Cruisin On Six) earned Charmayne’s 11th world title together. BHN Photo.

Keeping things neat and clean in your barn, trailer and overall appearance are important keys to a successful mindset.

We can talk about finding a fast horse, great foundational training—of course you need those things—but along with that, having good energy is part of becoming successful. Something that’s relatively simple to a winning outlook is keeping your things in order.

Checking your headstalls for loose Chicago screws, taking time to oil your saddle and check your cinches, latigos and blankets is important to general safety. One reason I always pay close attention to the condition of my tack is because when Scamper ran bridleless at the 1985 National Finals Rodeo, it was because of a broken Chicago screw. It all worked out fine, but you don’t want to experience major tack malfunctions. I think back to how important it was to win an 11th world title and think about the days leading up to that NFR. I look back on the days and hours I spent cleaning my rig, my tack and my horses. A lot of those tasks are simple and routine, but you’re busy taking care of all the little details and not over-thinking that one crucial run that’s coming up.

Pride and Professionalism

Jobs like cleaning your truck, trailer, stalls and tack are simple tasks that translate into healthy habits. Also, you see immediate results, which makes you feel good. When you clean your house or horse trailer, it just feels better. That’s the energy I’m talking about. You need that pride in yourself to win.

Something that goes along with pride in your things and your appearance is appreciation for the opportunity you’ve been given to ride and travel to new places with your horses. Just remember how privileged you are to participate in this lifestyle that allows you to be outdoors a lot of the time enjoying horses. Contrast that with a more confined lifestyle of living in town in an apartment, and it gives you a lot of perspective on how fortunate you truly are. How you take care of all the little details reflects an attitude of gratitude toward this way of life.

Attention to Detail

Along with checking over your tack regularly for weak spots in cinches, saddle wear and fixing any safety concerns, it’s equally important to pay very close attention to the welfare of your horses. Simply keeping your horses’ stalls clean keeps them more comfortable. Clean stalls mean less mess, fewer flies and happier horses. Similarly, a regular feeding schedule is important to the overall health of your horses and is part of being a disciplined competitor.

On a daily basis, look over and carefully feel your horses’ legs for heat, puffiness and any little indicators of possible soreness. Noticing a shoe that’s loose or an early clue to a possible injury can save your horse from a bigger problem later. Cleaning your horse’s feet out doesn’t take much time but gives you a chance to check for loose shoes, heat in the legs and any other bumps or nicks that need attention. Other simple but critical things to your horses’ overall health are making sure you’ve got good hay to feed and fresh, clean water available at all times.

Success involves attention to all the little details, which should just become habit. Even your clothes and general appearance are part of having good habits. It’s not about dressing to be better than anyone else by having fancy clothes, but when you wear what portrays who you are—and everyone is an individual—it makes you feel better. When you wear what’s professional and fits who you are, it shows that you take pride in what you do and reflects well on our sport.

When you’re traveling a lot, you spend hours on end in your truck, so I think it’s good to try and keep that atmosphere clean and tidy. It sounds funny, and everyone knows this, but even making sure you wash your hands is important. Traveling means you are in and out of a lot of public places, and you want to create habits that help keep you healthy.

Most everybody knows these things, but it’s a good reminder to budget time for some of the details often overlooked. If you’re a kid, take the initiative to do these things instead of waiting for your parents to remind you or relying on them to do it for you.

This article was originally published in the November 2018 issue of Barrel Horse News.