Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Bad Run

The bad run isn't the fast run with the knocked barrel - it's the run that is so out of character, so terrible, that you find it hard to show your face for a few hours at an arena. Others rarely notice this run, but it's the run that makes your skin crawl when you watch the video and the run that makes you feel like your barrel racing career is all for naught.

Maybe that's just me, but I doubt it. Two weeks ago, I had one of those runs. I pulled back on my horse going to the first barrel (an ultimate No-No), then proceeded to blow my third barrel by not helping my horse finish her turn and over-riding. It wasn't just at a barrel race, though, it was at a rodeo, in front of a crowd. Not just a rodeo, though - it was the closest rodeo to my home town in years at Greensburg, Penn.

If I mess up a run on my colt, I don't feel as bad. We're new together, we are allowed to make mistakes. It's the bad run on the old horse that kills me. I've owned her for 10 years and run her for about five. She was hurt every other year and I've been running her for less than a year, this time around, but I really have no reason to mess up the way I did at that rodeo.

My first "bad run" was in the finals at the All American Youth Barrel Race in Jackson, Miss., when I was 14. Before then, I had no expectations for my horse's or my own abilities. I had a good year before that, and I wanted to make my youth career that week in Jackson. In all the pressure I put on myself, I forgot how to run my horse completely, and ultimately she fell and broke her hip. I cried the whole 24-hour drive home.

Maybe these feelings go away the better you get and the more you've won. In the future, when TheBarrelRacingBlog profile a barrel racers, we'll ask about their bad runs and how they cope with screwing up.

If you have stories or thoughts on your own bad runs, let us know! Comment here or email them to

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