I read a quote the other day that said, “The plants and the Earth are resting. Maybe we should too. The long days will be here soon enough.”

It has been a hectic couple of months, and I was happy to spend most of January at home organizing my thoughts and catching up on things at the home front. Even though the New Year has been in full swing for almost two months, I feel like I am just now getting my goals for the year in order. Everyone has their own way of achieving their goals, but I wanted to share some of my own thoughts about going into a new rodeo season.

Even though I have been running “Sister” (Rafter W Minnie Reba) since 2016, I feel like I have a different horse every year. Each year she is older, wiser and different, and each year I have knowledge I never had before. So far in our rodeo career together, Sister and I have been a one-horse show. All of my thoughts, time, and effort have gone into Sister and keeping her in the best rodeo condition possible. This approach has served us well in the past few years, however, as much as we might want things to stay the same, change is inevitable.

I have had a lot of success on one horse at a time, and the fact is I don’t really know how to rodeo another way. I have never had more than one horse at a time going down the road. Now I have a couple young horses that deserve some attention, and I need to figure out how to manage their needs along with Sister’s needs. My No. 1 barrel racing goal for 2019 is to figure out how to rodeo with multiple horses and still do each horse the justice it deserves.

I have always had a one-track mind, so it is always easier for me to focus on one thing at a time. It’s going to be a big challenge for me to split my attention between horses and still do a quality job on each of them. When I started seasoning Sister I had no other option, so she has been getting 100 percent of my focus for several years now. Adding another horse to the operation is going to be a whole different dynamic. Figuring out the best way to accomplish my goal will be tough in a number of different ways.

The young horses need the consistency of runs Sister received in her seasoning years, but it has proved difficult for me to give that to them. I wish I could give each horse the undivided attention Sister had, but let’s face it, it is really hard to get off a horse like Sister to get on a young, inexperienced prospect. It’s easier and more fun to ride Sister!

It also works the opposite way for Sister—she will not be getting my full attention. As much as I would like to lighten her load of runs, it’s good for her to make runs and she still likes her job. As long as she is healthy and willing to run, I will continue to do so. I don’t want to take that job away from her prematurely. I am trying to go back and remind myself what it was like to season Sister. It wasn’t all fun and games with her, but I had very high expectations for her and I can see now that maybe those expectations for these other horses is a little lower because I have her to always fall back on.

The past couple of months have been filled with a lot of thought about the upcoming year. The long rides and long days are ahead of us, and getting myself in the right frame of mind has been a struggle. It takes time for me to think everything through and come up with a master plan. Sometimes I wish I was more of an impulsive person, but thinking things through is my process and usually if I stick with my process things will eventually fall into place.


Nellie Miller is the 2017 WPRA World Champion and rode her home-raised and -trained 11-year-old mare Rafter W Minnie Reba (KS Cash N Fame x Espuela Roan x Blue Light Ike) - affectionately known as "Sister" - to the title. Miller has amassed $625,517 in Equi-Stat recording lifetime earnings. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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