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Barrel Racing Survival Guide 101: By Megan Sparks

Troxel Athlete, Megan Sparks started riding at the age of 3 and running barrels when she was 8. She is a 4-time state youth champion and a 2014 IBRA 1D Open champion. Here, Megan shares three tips for succeeding in the sport of barrel racing, whether you're new to riding or a seasoned pro.

Interested in joining the sport of barrel racing? Or, maybe you’re already a part of this high energy sport and will be able to relate? Either way, here are a few things to think about before you turn the corner and run full speed down the alley towards your first barrel.

  1. This may be the most important thing to remember among everything I'll share with you in this post: learn to ride correctly the first time around! I can share from personal experience how difficult it is to break a poor riding habit once it's formed.

    Did you know it takes 21 days to form a new habit; but it can take up to three times as long to break a habit once it's formed? Now imagine, every time you work with your horse, if you're doing little things incorrectly, they will be magnified when you add speed to the equation. So, don’t be so rearing to go when it comes to the actual race. Take your time and learn the trade. Remember, it’s mostly about the journey, not the final destination.
  2. Second, have a pre and post race plan. Not only for getting you and your horse ready physically but for preparing mentally as well. It takes a substantial amount of mental strength to perform correctly in any sport. Add another factor such as a living animal to the equation, and you’ll have to work that much harder to maintain your persistence and positive outlook. Any previous run—good or bad—should be disregarded as you make your way up that alley the next time.
  3. Finally, have fun! That’s what this sport is all about. If you ever find yourself at the point where you no longer know why you're in the sport anymore, take a step back and look at the big picture.

    Why did you join the world of equine and barrel racing to begin with? You liked the thrill! You liked the partnership you shared with the animal! You liked the hard work it takes! If all else fails, take a break. Take a week, or even a month off from working with your barrel horse and you’ll be rearing to take a swing at it again in no time. It’s all about pacing yourself and taking both the good and bad in stride.

Enjoy your horse and enjoy the sport because nothing lasts forever.

Wishing you the very best of luck,
Megan Sparks

Do you have other tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Megan and her horse, Sparky after the IBRA 1D Open. Megan is wearing a Troxel
Cheyenne Rowdy

Megan's awesome horse Big O Fame!

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