Isn’t it crazy how easy it is to fall into a routine? That’s why we call it a rut. It’s easy to fall into and hard to get out of. But we have to get out of there because growth doesn’t happen in a rut.
Lately I have been brainstorming ways to get myself my horses out of our comfort zones and into the zone where we can really get some stuff done.
In a sport where there are coaches, the coaches have an agenda. They have a purpose at every practice. They have small goals that they want to accomplish with their teams every day.
A basketball coach doesn’t just show up and have their team members jog lap after lap around the gym, then rinse and repeat the next day and the day after that.
A good coach knows that isn’t how you develop skills and a competitive advantage. There has to be purpose in your practice.
Anyone who has played sports knows that it is in practice where you are pushed outside your comfort zone to try new things, reach higher heights, run faster, throw harder or jump further. It’s in practice that you grow and develop all the skills and confidence you need for competition.
In barrel racing, I think we have this backwards. We tend to ride aimlessly at home to keep our horses “legged up”, then we show up at the barrel race and expect to reach a new goal, try a new technique, a new bit or ride a different way than we have been all week at home.
Where is the logic in that??
Tana Renick has been an amazing mentor to me and taught me a lot about getting out of my comfort zone and doing the hard things in practice so that when I show up to the barrel race, my horse and I have the confidence to go in there and do our job.
When I rode with Tana she had me doing a drill that, if I’m honest, I hated doing! Ha! It’s a really challenging drill and it made me have to ride better and have a lot quicker timing. It also made my horse work really hard.
Within just a few days of doing it, I could already see an improvement in my riding and in my horse!
She knew that pushing me out of my comfort zone and giving me a purpose in my practice was where I would see the most growth.
I’ve been very fortunate to ride with a few great horsemen and women that have pushed me and made me level up.
The trickier part is to step into the roll of being your own coach and making sure that you aren’t just aimlessly practicing each day. Every ride needs to have a purpose. Every ride is an opportunity for growth, both for you and your horse.
You have to do the challenging things, the uncomfortable things. You have to get right up to the edge of your comfort zone and take the leap because that is where tremendous growth happens.
I have heard it said, “perfect practice makes perfect”… I think I understand what that saying is getting at. Being precise and practicing perfect muscle memory is important, but aside from that, practice shouldn’t be perfect. Practice is where things should get ugly and hard and uncomfortable. It’s where you need to push the limits and find out what you’re made of.
If you are someone who easily gets into a routine and finds it hard to push for the next level, I cannot express how important it is to find a mentor or trainer to give you lessons or ride with you and check in with you once in a while. Every other sport out there has coaches and mentors who will help you get to the next level. Barrel racing doesn’t have to be any different. There are always people out there willing to help, myself included.
All in all, if you are finding yourself stuck, and practices aren’t getting you anywhere, now is the time to evaluate whether you are practicing with a purpose or just going through the motions. Extraordinary growth happens when you shake up your routines and start challenging yourself every day!