Permantly bruised shins? Check. Sanity on a teeter totter? Check. Non horse friendships and relationships strained? Check. When you don't have horses (or in this case barrel race), you just don't understand. Things have been just crazy here. With Christmas, New Years, I was super sick, plus the every day horse things (that you know are never regular because they are always up to something!) makes things like keeping a website or blog updated hard. In the last two weeks I've got some barn help, it's been amazing! I still feed and handle all the horse stuff but now an hr and half of three of my days are cleared out, I have time to update the website, do house work, and anything else needing to be done, but most importantly I get to ride. Now that is a crazy statement coming from a riding instructor, right? No. The students get to ride, I get to fix ground manners, they get to laugh and let the horse goof off, I get to be the horrible dictator that puts them back into their bubbles (the space where they ARE NOT in my lap). So this week it's been ground work, riding in draw reins, and then teaching students feel. I've said it before and you will hear me say it a hundred more times, barrel horses have a bad rep because people DO NOT put the training into the local jackpot horses. They don't believe a horse should be supple, broke in the face, flex in the poll, or even stop when you say whoa, it just matters the horse is fast. We do such damage by not actually training these horses, then making excuses, using bigger harsher bits, and other things that just cause pain. I'll never forget that my best barrel horse "suddenly" started giving me problems. There was nothing suddenly about it though. I bought him as a 3 yr old who didn't really know the pattern, he wasn't broke in the face, he didn't know leads or much else, but guess what, he was little and I could kind of manhandle him to jerk him around barrels and stuff and pretty soon I had him keeping my placed in the 4D while my main 1D mare was healing. The problem is he started to get faster, and a lot bigger and pretty soon you have a 1D 1,000 pound animal that's not broke in the face and is all run and still doesn't really know the pattern. It progressed over time to the point I finally lost a saddle, all my awards, and a title that season because 3 years before I didn't want to put any time into seasoning him. I came so close to completely ruining an awesome horse. But around the time he was being a nightmare, some people had an automatic more push style horse that knew his job, but he was run in a steel twisted wire tie-down, a very severe bit, and it also had a steel twisted wire noseband that had done injured the horse so bad it looked like he had a grapefruit of scare tissue his nose. My question to the owners was this, if I decide to trailride him, do I have to ride in this, or what if he starts having a problem, where do I go from steel? This wasn't like a cable this literally was how barb wire looked. I've seen very few of these and even less used. I didn't get that horse, but instead my family stepped in and we put the time into my horse. If I'd done it from the beggining I would have saved the 2 years I lost. One thing about barrel racing is it's every little girls dream. That is GREAT! There is nothing like the adrenaline rush, the power and having the trust in your horse when you're going that fast. The bad thing to that is, no one wants to put time into it. It's just about riding "that fast horse" I mentioned above and you don't have to have training for that... There is so much that goes into barrel racing. My goal is to create actual horsemen/women first then whatever follows that. So many barrel horses hate their jobs and they are screaming at their rider and the rider just is beating them in the back alley. That is the sad aspect of what we do. But is that what we really want the newcomers to see/be? I'm going to start doing a weekly drill or lesson for everyone on this blog along with the regular one, I'm in the process of doing videos to show riders progress and incorrect and correct ways, and I'm thinking very hard about making anyone that comes to me learn groundwork, English, then barrels. Horses don't want someone flopping around on their back, whipping and spurring, neither were you. So as I wrap this post up, this is my end thought, this new year let's start to seek out more things that's in the benefit of our horse, let's start trying for a broke supple soft barrel horse, with one person going in on a truly trained horse and placing it will make an impact, and before long we could become and industry known more then unbroke crazy horses.