“Barrel horse vs. boyfriends.” If you haven’t seen the talking horse on Facebook comparing the two, Google it! Before you watch it, you may want to put on a pair of Depends in case you pee your pants.
Way back before I was even a barrel racer brother, I learned an important lesson in Sunday school. The teacher read us a parable that little did I know would resurface later in life in the arena.
“The little boy was walking down a path and he came across a rattlesnake. The rattlesnake was getting old. He asked, ‘Please little boy, can you take me to the top of the mountain? I hope to see the sunset one last time before I die.’ The little boy answered ‘No, Mr. Rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you’ll bite me and I’ll die.’ The rattlesnake said, ‘No, I promise. I won’t bite you. Just please take me up to the mountain.’ The little boy thought about it and finally picked up that rattlesnake and took it close to his chest and carried it up to the top of the mountain. They sat there and watched the sun set together. It was so beautiful. After the sun set, the rattlesnake turned to the little boy and asked, ‘Can I go home now? I am tired, and I am old.’ The little boy picked up the rattlesnake and again took it to his chest and held it tightly and safely. He came all the way down the mountain holding the snake carefully and took it to his home. Just before he laid the rattlesnake down, the rattlesnake turned and bit him in the chest. The little boy cried out and threw the snake upon the ground. ‘Mr. Snake, why did you do that? Now I will surely die!’ The rattlesnake looked up at him and grinned, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”
As a barrel racer brother growing up through junior rodeo, high school rodeo, etc., I was a “timey” and roped calves and team roped. (Not to be confused with a “roughy;” we keep an arena distance between us for a reason). Of course, at a rodeo, there are always the buckle bunnies that the roughies will snort and herd around like a stud in a pasture full of mares. We timies were a little more sophisticated and were drawn to the girls in the rodeo. We didn’t go for the queens; we could see that money pit coming a mile away. The breakaway ropers could kick our butt, so they were usually out or ran along with us as drinking buddies. The goat tyers were all right, but those quick hands can get you in trouble in a hurry! And, of course, if a girl could rope steers, you knew she was handy and the marryin’ type, but we were too young for that. So, that left the barrel racers. What catches a high school boy’s attention better than a girl pulling up in a dually with a 35-foot Bloomer? Maybe the reason we noticed them was because they parked like a valet attendant was going to come out and pull it around back. Either way, the barrel racers always caught our eyes. It may have been the 50 pounds of rhinestones and crystals on their tack, the Fallon Taylor outfits, or them running through the parking lot trying to stop their horses coming out of the alley. Coincidence or great marketing by the barrel racers? I don’t know, but I was sucked in worse than an infomercial at 2 a.m.
To bring it back to my Sunday school lesson, I knew what it was when I picked it up. I was the little brother to a barrel racing junkie, so when I got a little older, I really should have known better than to get involved. I had a room next to my sister and would fall asleep at night to her listening to positive thinking tapes on the stereo from some crazy barrel racer. It didn’t matter how many times I told her to take it off the stereo and use headphones so it might actually stay in that blonde head of hers a little longer. We grew up riding together and I junior rodeoed and went for all-around. When we’d ride, my sister would coach me on what I was doing wrong. “Sit on your pockets, make a bigger pocket.” What? No fashion lesson, let’s win this thing! The coaching continued. “Lift your leg! Squeeze! Lift!” It was like listening to an 80s workout video with Jane Fonda. I don’t want buns of steel, I want that all-around buckle! After the first few rides, I figured out this was a lot of work and those barrels left scars. You actually had to put leg boots and bell boots on your horse, not the slip-on rubber bell boots we ropers could leave on for weeks at a time when we rodeoed. And these girls pick the horses’ feet every time they rode. I thought that was something the farrier did every 8 to 14 weeks when you won at a roping and had the money to call him back out to reset the shoes.
Dating a barrel racer is like skydiving. You know it very possibly could kill you or make you cry, but the thrill is too much to resist. I’d go to the rodeos and those girls would need a buddy horse to walk them down the alley. My calf horse was a pro at that, plus he’d been saddled all day so it wasn’t a big deal to go grab him. I was earning brownie points! They’d come out of the arena and if they had a bad run all I had to do was say, “that ground was horrible.” (Yes, I learned quick.) That would make them feel better and decrease the animosity enough that maybe, just maybe, we could grab dinner after the rodeo. I always envisioned a romantic story like 8 Seconds, but of course, I always took a back seat to the barrel horse! No, you don’t have to take him home first. He can stand in the trailer like mine while we eat and go out. Heck, my horses probably liked the trailer better than the stall because the trailer usually had shavings in it.
When I was a barrel racer brother, I went to the weekend jackpots with my sister so I could miss church. As I matured into a barrel racer boyfriend, I went so I wouldn’t be called a jerk. I started to notice a pattern of how conveniently a barrel racer would forget her wallet or see some new tack piece she really wanted. Can you tell her no when she is surrounded by a group of barrel racers? If you want to know how that feels, imagine walking through Compton, Calif., with a Rolex and BMW keys. Your life is in danger! Just hand over the goods and pray you make it out alive. When you get to the barrel race, they sit you in the bleachers alone. It’s like the prisoners cleaning up the trash on the side of the road. We all have this shameful look on our face because we are there for the same reasons, but we can’t talk or congregate because they might think we are planning a revolt. That might add another year to your sentence. After she runs, it’s like the walk back to your cell. You know you are going to be patted down when you get back to the trailer. Where’s my phone? My Chapstick? Did you keep my dog warm? They hand you your rations (aka, a water bucket and apple wafers) for you to do your routine. Make sure you hold the bucket high enough the horse doesn’t have to bend down to drink. If you get splashed in the crotch so it looks like you peed your pants, you know you are at the right level. Then they hand you the horse to hand walk while they go check to see if the photographer got a good picture. I mean, hello, the pre-barrel race selfie only got 86 likes on Facebook. They need to up their game with a competition photo. Now, the long drive home can be the worst. If she won, she was calling all her friends and telling them how Bozo Jr worked amazing and liking every comment on the new picture they uploaded. If she did bad, you hear her (because she doesn’t want to talk about it yet) rewind the video and sigh…again and again and again. Ever babysat a kid that loved watching Barney over and over? It’s the same feeling. But the good news is that after she watched the NFR runs on YouTube from last year, she thinks she has her problems fixed. She just needs to enter more and make more runs…
Does dating a barrel racer have its perks? Yes! You know how independent she is and that she can handle herself. I would just tell my girlfriend that if she was ever scared to just treat the other person like her farrier after her horse pulled a shoe. Trust me, they will tuck their tail and cower. Changing a flat tire is nothing. Not just because she can do it, but if a pretty girl in sparkles is on the side of the road with a flat, the freeway will shut down with guys stopping to help (true stories). Have customer service problems? She has got your back! She will either convince the other person they are wrong or have them buying a futurity prospect to train by the end of the deal. Whatever it may be, you have nobody to blame. You knew what it was when you picked it up.
Read the first blog from our barrel racer husband here ===>>> https://www.barrelhorsenews.com/blogs/in-the-alley-with-bhn/4203-which-came-first.html