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By Charlotte Cunningham

Hello everyone!

I want to talk to you about something I find is very important that we as barrel racers tend to forget.  Training your self mentally and physically! 

1.  One of the first things I do with myself or any person I am helping is to identify any stresses that get in the way of performing such as insecurities about your horse, yourself, other competitors, competitions you are at and who is there, how you feel physically, your attitude and family.  All of these can hinder your performance as an athlete and yes I said you are an athlete!

2.  You ask the question, “Well Charlotte I have all that now, how do I fix it?”  You train your brain as you would your horse!  What?  You train your subconscious.  Because that is what takes over, when you run, your brain literally turns off the conscience and lets the subconscious go to work.  If the subconscious has no training that is the feeling of you being everywhere and not knowing what happen in your run. 

Ever get that?  I do all the time and you say, “but you’re a professional you look like you’ve got it together all the time”.  Well yes, that is how I prepare my self and my brain to compete at the highest levels and yes I have to always be training.  

So lets start training:

Mentally prepared:  Two questions you must ask yourself when you are at a race or at home.

1.  What can I control?  This question you say is easy.  Well not really control is an illusion.  The only real control you have is over yourself such as your attitude etc.

2.  What is my job?  This one has an easy answer. Your job is to help that horse make the best run, possible.  You do this by doing your job

How to obtain your best level of your job - remember these letters – CCECFF

You must define them everyday because the moment you stop your brain stops being trained:

1.  Calm - Not excited nor agitated, very composed

2.  Confident - Confident in ones self, self-assured - marked by assurance as of success

3.  Energized - To give energy to, activate, to invigorate.

4.  Challenged - Calling for use of ones abilities or resources in a different situation

5.  Focus - A condition in which something can be clearly apprehended or perceived

6.  Fun - Source of enjoyment, amusement or pleasure

You memorize these like it was your second bible and let your subconscious have a leaning post………….

………..I like to walk the pattern alot and see my points, sit, lift my hands at the time I am suppose to and release again, training my brain to do it automatically.

Remember when you pull out of your driveway training is OVER!!! Go have fun!  You must always try to have a positive attitude and remember that every situation good or bad is a learning experience. 

Tip:  Surround yourself with positive upbeat people not the gossipers and negative ones.  Stay away from them because they will only bring you down on yourself.

Have a routine at the race and stick to it.  If I don’t stick to my specific routine every time, I literally will have a come apart moment because that is how I not only get my horse ready but prepare myself as well.

Physical part:  Having a full time job has made me realize it is very hard to keep my mind and body physically ready to win.  Other barrel racers who are married with children have it even harder.  I did not say you could not do it but it is a sacrifice.  We spend countless hours taking care of our horses, learning about saddles, nutrition, supplements, etc. but do we stop and think we need to spend time getting ourselves physically ready?  You need to find a way to fit in anaerobic exercises and core strengthening exercises.  I walk fast everywhere I go.  I feel that is my anaerobic work.  Everything can be a workout, take stairs, park further from work, clean, etc.  Core strengthening exercises are easy I just googled it and came up with some I felt I was weak in.  I began using them and noticed the first time I ran, it helped.  You just don’t have to work out to "sweating to the oldies" with Richard Simmons!!! 

I believe Trevor Brazile said it best "you may think you want what I have accomplished but are you willing to sacrifice what I did to get it"!  Well the question is are you ready?  It’s all about how hard you work and leave ALL the excuses at home!

Remember God will never give you anything you don't need or are not ready to handle so be happy while you are waiting on him!

Love your sport, your horse and the people around you and you will find success with this advice above.

Thanks and have a great day!

Courtesy Charlotte Cunningham-Edwards
© 2013 BHHLLC Reprint