1 Arrive at least one hour before the barrel race.
2. Sign in so that all concentration will be on your horse.
3. Brush and pick your horse’s feet. This will allow you enough time if you need to find a horse shoer or some other small emergency that needs to be taken care of. I also massage my horse and use Lame Away and Wind Aide and Hoof Freeze at this time.
4. Tack up, checking equipment. I try to carry spare stuff in case of a malfunction. Extra bridle, boots, pants, shirt about anything you can think of. I know it sounds crazy. But, being prepared gives me confidence.
5. Mount up with everything you need for the barrel race. This way, you will be totally ready to compete, possibly only having to shed a jacket and gloves or sunglasses. Being ready is the best way to eliminate stress.
6. Warm up, mostly by walking and trotting to keep your horse calm if he tends to be nervous. But, know your horse, some need more. I will bend my horse to the right and to the left. I will also stop three or four times and back up: these things will help to ensure that my horse is paying attention to me. Be sure to do things equally on both sides, making turns to the right and to the left.
7. Once my horse is warm (body temperature) and loosened up, I like to find a somewhat quiet spot so that we can relax. I may dismount and stand next to my horse. By dismounting my horse, he knows that it is not time to run and he can conserve energy.
8. I will mount my horse about five horses from my run and be at the gate when my name is called.
9. After my run, I will walk my horse until he has stopped breathing hard. I may dismount and lead him, if this is the only way I can get him to calm down and relax.
10. I will remove my horse’s boots and tack and either sponge him with water and liniment on his legs, if it is cold out; or, if it is hot I will look for a hose to water and cool him out, paying special attention to his legs and back.
Until next month, I hope that spring is going great for you and your barrel horses.