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Barrel Racing Advice - Hauling Buddy Bust

It doesn’t matter if you are watching the Super Bowl, or the Super Bowl of Rodeo the WNFR You will notice a common theme during the famed awards ceremony acceptance speech: champions showing gratitude for the support they’ve received.

Barrel racing and rodeo is a pretty unique sport. We barrel racers have to have athleticism, team-man-ship, and perseverance to hit the pavement during busy summer months. Other sports have the luxury of having flying first class, receive team pricing on airfare, in-flight movies, and a water boy. In our sport we succeed as one person riding a victory lap, but not without the help of a group of supporters behind us and horses underneath us.

This post is geared toward those that are looking to do more to accomplish their dreams on the rodeo road. In order to lessen the work load and create a support system, you may want to consider picking a hauling buddy/entering partner. To avoid painting a picture of the drama-filled, catty behavior, in a negativeenvironment like the TV show ‘Rodeo Girls’ did, I want to give you some ideas of how to pick your partner – not your poison.

Girls in rodeo may run on fumes, but professional women of rodeo rule the road.

Plan Your Trip: 

It doesn’t matter if you are a WPRA gal or have a membership with a local club; you probably have your calendar mapped out of all the pens you plan to dominate next season. Consider finding a gal in your division/district or circut that has the same destination plans as you.

If you plan to get on the WPRA trail, research the WPRA buddy system. It helps to have a partner or group (up to 4 girls) that can enter and haul together. At the beginning of a season you can declare who your partner/partners are. That way you enter everyone at one time when you call in your entry. The benefit of opting of be on the buddy system is to that you can ensure your hauling partner and yourself be drawn for the same position together. To learn more see 10.4.3 of the WPRA Rule Book.

When you are entering your “buddy”, make sure that each other knows how to reciprocate one and others information; such as card number, full name, draw preference etc… And be on the same page about things like rodeo schedule and draw preference.

First Stop:

Play “match maker” for barrel racers!  If you’ve found a sweet gal in your circuit that has similar scheduling plans as you, proceed to talk about similarities, likes, and dislikes. Splitting gas and filling a spot in the trailer is not sustainable when you’re hauling down the road for multiple days and miles at a time. Ask “deep” and “intimate questions”.

For instance:

Do you have similar horse hauling habits, food preferences, and goals for barrel racing?

Are your personalities, cleanliness routines, chores and driving duties compatible?

Is the person you are hauling with emotionally uplifting, hard working and fair with splitting costs?

How prepared are both partners to perform emergency tasks with horses, humans, and vehicles?

Do you have a road dog?

Asking questions like these could save you both from uncomfortable feelings, awkward assumptions, and heartache from miscommunications down the road. And as most barrel racers know, we need to dedicate every ounce of our focus on our horses and our runs – not on if Sally Saddlebags is late entering BOTH of you.

Pit Stop: 

The horse-world is a small world. If you know one horse person, you probably know them all – or at least have the ‘6 degrees of separation’ at work in the rodeo community. Help preserve your partnership with your hauling partner by taking a pit stop and pondering some of these ideas.

Partner principles:

Communication. Seems like everyone has their own version, but for the sake of actually being on the same page define it. Communication is you and your partner’s ability to share and understand and idea.

Don’t make or teach assumptions. Don’t assume partner “A” entered partner “B” in Clovis slack without checking. Don’t assume that partner “A” loves driving 8 hours in her rig and doesn’t mind being uncompensated for fuel and food till partner “C” wins a round. Don’t assume partner “C” loves to listen to country music and eat at Micky D’s drive thru for 3 states in a row. Just say NO, to assuming.

Mutual responsibilities. Having a slick system is part of being a good hauling buddy. Come up with some ways you can both be helpful to each other. While one gal  fuels up the truck, the other gets snacks. One gal changes a tire while the other one Googles the ‘closest Discount Tire’. One gal cleans of horse trailer, the other fills water buckets. Don’t just stand their…help with something! You are a team with your buddy!

Golden Rule: How are you going to honor your partner’s tastes and personality? Let’s run a hypothetical story line : Maybe your gal pal stays late after the rodeo for a concert at the fair and brings home a “guy pal” coughcough… You have to leave at 4 am for slack tomorrow afternoon at another rodeo, and you need your warrior-rest (a full 8 hours) to drive safe and ride to win. Don’t get in a girly-spat over partying late and getting not sleep. Treat your partner how YOU want to be treated, only better.

Focus: Never forget at the end of the day, it’s you and your horse that are essentially the winning combination. Having a hauling partner is good, but keep focused on your personal goals. Being independent doesn’t mean you can’t be supportive and empathic toward your partners’ state of being. Being independent means being as prepared as you possibly can to serve yourself and your horse without being a burden to others.

Travel Tips:

Travel fare -For fuel and food costs consider a cash card. Each buddy can bring a cash card, or everyone can contribute to fill one card up. It keeps stops fast, fair and friendly without digging for loose change in a barrel racers purse.

Travel light- preplan meals and outfits. It sounds silly but you know there is nothing worse than a ‘hangery’ female who feels she has nothing to wear. Coordinating basic neutral classic outfits with more accessories, and a package of wet wipes will get you farther than you think, plus they don’t’ take up a lot of space.

Travel fair – immulate a snap cup system. Did you ever see the movie Legally Blonde? If you partner had an awesome run or paid attention to how you like your frappachino while you were sleeping then you make sure to acknowledge them! Same goes for difference or disagreements, talk about them before the pavement does.

Travel friendly- don’t let boredom get the best of you. Make sure you have a vibrant lively playlist of music, some Mad Libs books, and hours worth of previous runs stored up. You could be surprised how much you can bond with you buddy over some Garth Brooks, adjectives and tales of tipped cans.

Final Destination: We all want to be successful in some manner with horses. There are specific ways to ensure your dreams become a reality. And guess what? It’s all up to you, because you get to pick!  And we should all try to "pick our partner, not our poison.”

Pick your passion: you probably didn’t really choose barrel racing…it chose YOU! So put some effort into feeding back into the passion that claimed your heart. Pick someone to haul with or study with that is beyond your skill level and experience level. Kaley Bass said it made all the difference in the world to spend her first summer on the road hauling with Brittany Pozzi. Brittany taught her the in’s and out’s of the professional world of rodeo, quirks of scheduling and tricks of traveling. Finding someone who is willing to help guide you to your dream and not smother them is ideal for long term success. You can’t soar with the eagles if you struttin with the turkeys.

Pick your partner (human): By and large most people find a way to get along in the barrel racing community because the world is small and fuel cost is big. Electing to travel with someone can also be an expense on you emotionally. Find some one who shares your positivity. Who will rejoice in your winning runs, uplift you in your dented can mishaps, and won’t talk trash about how you train your horses. Fellowship not frenemies.

Pick your partner (horse): Ya ain’t goin nowhere if you don’t have 4 hooves. Dreams of the setting sun on Broadway, the bright lights of Vegas and shiny buckles in the arena light are only vapors unless you have a CONCRETE relationship and foundation with your horse. Horse’s will run faster and jump higher out of heart and desire. Before you ever load up with someone, make sure that the kinks are worked out of your horsemanship first.

Nobody likes a shady hauling partner…We suggest partners bring one seasoned horse and one younger (futurity type) horse to make the best out of road trips. The seasoned ones are reliable and take care of themselves. And the younger ones with have 2 seasoned horses and 2 seasoned humans to keep an eye on them.

There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes of true champions. Having a hauling partner you get along with and are grateful for, is a tool for success in the rodeo arena. Whether it’s your best friend from college rodeo days, your husband or some lady that is hell bent on some heavenly runs just like you, do your part in making sure you prepare for traveling!

Go through our checklist and questions, and give some serious thought to what you expect from a hauling buddy. Meet over coffee and day dream together but don’t forget to keep things in alignment with mutual principles.

Remember! Smoke your runs, not your friendships!

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