By Sara Honegger, age 17; published in the July 2011 issue of BHN.
You begin to breathe, dream and live for those 17 seconds when you’re racing against the clock. A strong force takes over, and suddenly, your whole perspective of life changes.
Young girls who ask Santa Claus for a pony each year quickly grow up once they enter horse world. Dress-up becomes all about cowboy hats and boots instead of feather boas, makeup and high heels.
Responsibility is found, not only for yourself, but for your horse. You become a parent, learning what unconditional love is, and how it feels to care more about another being then you do for yourself.
Car rides never involve the words, “Are we there yet?” because no distance seems too far when you’re traveling to compete.
Even the way you view weather changes when you become a barrel racer. Wind becomes the enemy as it fights with cowboy hats and makes horses see monsters pop out of the ground beneath their feet. When other people are wishing for sunshine, a barrel racer will hope for rain if it means the ground will be faster at the race the following weekend.
Mud is only an issue for “city slickers.” For us, it’s an indicator of speed, as it splatters across you and your horse during your run—not to mention the fact that it adds a little color to your Kodak moment. You don’t realize what a significant role dirt can play in your life until you become one who races the clock.
Barrel racing teaches its competitors so many priceless life lessons. Patience is the key ingredient in life. All things have the possibility to be great if you give it a fair chance. Finding your inner drive will push you past your limits, allowing you to reach heights you’d never dreamed possible. Self-confidence is something you should always carry with you. And being competitive and listening to your heart will always keep you chasing after your dreams.
Horses change the way your world revolves. It’s the way they look at you that assures you you’re their everything. It even seems as though your hearts are beating in tandem during that perfect run. It’s the way you see the person you truly want to be in the reflection of their eyes. It’s the way the very thought of losing them leaves a void within you. And the way that you feel as if nothing can catch you when you’re riding.
There’s no drug, sport or thrill that could possibly change your entire world the way barrel racing can. Some may call it crazy. For us, we consider this lifestyle perfection.
Sara Honegger was a contributor to Barrel Horse News Youth Forum in 2011-2012. This article was originally pubished in the July 2011 issue of BHN. Email comments on this article to [email protected].