The Learning Curve
Dr. Seuss once said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
And, oh, and the places I’ve been and all the things that I have learned!
Dr. Seuss hit that nail right on the head because the older I get the more I realize no matter how much you think you may know, you still don’t know everything.
I learned this lesson the hard way.
You need to use every experience — good or bad — as a learning experience and to not take anything for granted.
In early December, I loaded up four horses and my trailer down with clothes and boots and pointed my rig south; destination Phoenix, Ariz.
I was on Cloud 9 the entire drive south and the closer I got to Phoenix, the larger my head expanded and the bigger my aspirations got.
I was ready to spend a month and a half in Arizona and come back to Colorado with some very deep pockets.
I was entered in the Classic Equine Barrel Horse Futurity, along with the Greg Olson Futurity, which was held the first and second weekend in January in Buckeye, Arizona at the South Buckeye Equestrian Facility.
Now for those of you who have no clue what the words “barrel futurity” means, let me break it down for you.
A barrel futurity is a barrel race that only horses of a specific age can enter, either 4 years old or 5 years old.
In order for you horse to be eligible to run in a barrel futurity, the horse has not to have been entered or ran in a barrel race, rodeo or any such race having to do with three barrels prior to Dec. 1 of the year prior to when the horse is going to start getting entered.
My futurity horse for 2014, Shiney Blue Hiney also known as Ivy, was unable to run at a barrel race until Dec. 1, 2013.
The Classic Equine and the Greg Olson Futurities are the first futurities of the year with thousands of added money — and with that comes a lot of pressure.
Many people, myself included, want to start the New Year off with a bang; a money winning bang that resulted in your horse winning either futurity and filling your wallet to the brim.
However, no matter how hard you may try or how much you may wish on that shooting star, the chips may not fall in your favor and they most definitely did not fall in this girls favor.
When I first arrived in Arizona, things started off great.
All my horses were working like they should, and I was getting more and more anxious for that first futurity in January.
Things were going great, better than I had expected for my first time in Arizona as the rookie, and I was having high hopes and expectations for my horses.
But then things slowly started to change, and when I say change I certainly do not mean for the better.
My horses quit working and after hours spent at the vet and with several other equine professionals, the proof was in the puddin’.
My horses felt the pressure I was putting on them and slowly but surely they started crumbling.
It was nothing severe or life threatening by any means but it was enough for me to take a step back and reevaluate my strategy and the rest of my time in Arizona.
We got through the two futurities and won a little money but it definitely did not go as I had originally hoped.
Although I did not achieve any of the goals I set for myself or my horses while in Arizona, I did in fact learn a lot.
I learned how to be a good loser, how to stay humble with a good, winning run because by golly you just never know when things could hit the fan.
I learned what to do and what not to do for next year when I go back and I learned how to listen to my horses better and to know when they are not quite ready for the pressure that may be added in a situation such as Arizona.
I learned that no matter how bad it did get, I was just lucky enough to be able to follow my dreams and do what I love.
But most importantly, I learned that no matter how much you think you may know, you don’t know everything and the only logical way to know everything is to learn something new (or 20 new things in my situation) each day.
Dr. Seuss may be a children’s author but that man taught this 26-year-old a little something that will be cherished for life.
Hope Sickler is the editor and co-publisher of Mile Hi Barrel Horse Magazine and a freelance writer for Rodeo News, Real American Cowboy Magazine and The Pueblo West View. She occasionally shares her experiences on the rodeo circuit with View readers.