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Taking your Barrel Racing to the Next Level through Positive Self Talk

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There have been countless times that I could have chosen to tell myself something negative but, I did not. The first race after my horse accident and even after 9 months when I was coming off of a restricted riding time I could have, but I did not. Instead, I chose to tell myself I could do it. 

I had been in the hardest point in my life and I chose to tell myself that I was prepared and I had worked harder than anyone there.

You know what? I placed at that first rodeo back after my accident and I won that rodeo that I decided to go to after being restricted from riding for a month. Even though those negative voices told me I was not going to win because of all I had been through.

None of that would have even happened if I had chosen something different than talking positively to myself. I believed in myself and told myself the truth, which was and always is positive. I was able to accomplish those things. Talking positive is a huge key to our largest step in success.

Making the choice to put in the work

Having a high-end mental game, as us barrel racers say it, will lead to consistent success. For most everyone, there are two voices in our heads, the voice who wants to see us succeed and the voice who wants you to believe you will never succeed. Now, who is right? 

The truth is whichever voice you feed off of the most is right. It is exactly like that quote, “Those who think they can and those who think they cannot be usually are both right.”

Those who think they can and those who think they cannot be usually are both right.

The truth is all of us have that power to be as successful as we possibly can be. What seems to stop us? It is that thing right in between both of your ears.

The self-talk that that comes from there can either make or break us. For us as barrel racers, the way we talk to our selves leads to our confidence and our horse’s confidence. Horses are amazing creatures and are built in a way that they feed off of our energy.

 We have to be confident and our horses will be as well. Positive self-talk will create a mindset that will keep us at the top of the leader board. 

Positive Self Talk Creates the Outcome Desired

As a rider how you talk to yourself will create a positive outcome. This is done by simply telling yourself you are capable of winning. Positive self-talk has to be practiced not only in the warm-up pen but, in the practice pen and in any daily activity.

Engaging in positive self-talk helps you to be able to focus on the task at hand. We have to train our brains in every situation to focus. When game time comes, it is easy to quickly get focused. 

That line drive focus is created by talking positively to yourself. This will create confidence in your already built ability. This will help you get to where you want with your goal. 

To make leader board worthy runs you have to learn how to be your own coach, through self-talk. For me, something as simple as telling myself I am prepared and worthy to win helps to get me in that positive mindset. 

People probably think I am crazy for doing this but, out loud I tell whatever horse I am running that they are the best in the world. I also tell them we are going to win.

Whether my horse understands that or not, just telling myself out loud sets what I know in stone. I can tell you we always make beautiful runs when I remember to do that.

Focus on the Future

Female Barrel Racer Making the Turn Around the Barrel

In barrel racing, every run is to be treated like a new slate. I learned this from Tyson Durfey. You cannot keep a past run in your mind. You will make that past run you did not want over again if, it is not deleted. 

If your mindset is not corrected, your body and your horse can easily drift back into that past performance pattern. This is simply because you were thinking about what you did not want to happen.

For example, the last run made your horse may have hit a barrel. Now you are in the warm-up pen focusing on not hitting a barrel, rather than focusing on making a clean run.

Sound familiar? You can guess what will happen next… you hit that barrel you focused so hard on not hitting. 

By focusing on the unsuccessful past run, you cannot perform well in the present runs. Now let us assume your back in the warm-up pen and you are focusing on what you DO want to happen this run.

You make a precise mental picture in your mind of how you want to make the run. Thus, your run turns out exactly as was visualized. Our focus on the present is what gives us the power that propels you to success.

Take Action

Listen to those things you sometimes unconsciously tell yourself. Are they positive or negative? When our self-talk turns positive, accomplishing the most occurs. Even if you do not realize your negative self-talk does not mean it is not there. 

If negative self-talk is going on this needs to be stopped and changed to positive especially, if you want to be mentally tough. Personally, the minute negative self-talk was eliminated from my mind, I quickly approached my biggest achievements.

This was all because I started to believe in myself. I was so prepared physically there was just that belief missing. When positive self-talk was implemented, I started to see the most success in the littlest amount of time. 

Pinterest pin - Taking your Barrel Racing to the Next Level

How to Practice Positive Self Talk

  • Replacing our negative statements with positive ones. This does take us realizing something negative was said and replacing it with something positive.

As barrel racers, the long drives to the next rodeo brings lots of time to think, sometimes too deeply. During this time, it is our responsibility to keep ourselves up in our thinking.

This is so key to being able to be your own cheerleader. In the heat of the moment when negative thoughts come flooding in, it is easy to give into them. 

  • If all of us can have a phrase to refer to fast, each one of us can easily get back on the path to talking positively to ourselves. 

My mantra when those negative thoughts come streaming in is, “You have worked so hard for this and you are just as capable as anyone else.” This is specific to me and the negative thoughts I struggle with. That is the point though, the mantra has to work for you.

Quote - You have worked so hard for this and you are just as capable as anyone else

It is important to have a statement that is specific to you and what you believe in personally.

  • Practice this process in multiple scenarios. This is important to bring what you know and do in the practice pen into a run. In barrel racing and other sports, it does not just work to do these things in the practice pen, it has to carry over to the warm-up pen and then into the run. 

For me, I started to create the biggest success when I took the way I talked to my self-positively to the warm-up pen right before my run. Whatever happens in the warm-up pen will typically transfer over to your run.

  • Another way to practice positive self-talk is to have a statement like, “I can perform at my very best” or “I am capable of winning this.” This will also help to set in stone what you know. 
  • Something you can do is sit in front of the mirror and repeat a positive phrase to yourself multiple times. Your brain is wired to believe everything you tell it. 


By doing this you are not only making your brain believe in you but, you are growing your confidence in yourself and your abilities. By these simple practices, we are able to be in the state of mind to win.

For more of an explanation in a video form, check out this video:

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