It’s the magical time of year when the grass has turned green, the weather has warmed up, schools are turning out for summer, and barrel racing competitions are numerous across the nation. We’ve trained during the cold whenever we could. We’ve conditioned our horse for competitions through the spring. It’s time to hit and get the money! Before you do, make sure you are set to head out. Here are some tips that I have put together for you.
Have a good list of what you need and tape it to your trailer door. You need to make your list and let a barrel racer who has hauled review your list. It’s hard to find things out on the road. TAKE IT WITH YOU!
Learn what headgear works for you and take an extra adjusted one to fit. Nothing is worse than getting on the road and losing your headgear.
Get the best saddle that will help you win. Get a good pad, boots and everything your horse needs. I even like to carry my own extra pair of horseshoes adjusted to my horse. Also, I have my own shoeing equipment, especially a puller, file, hammer and nails. If you lose a shoe, you can usually find a capable cowboy to put it back on.
Take your own feed and hay with you. I prefer Purina feeds because if you run out of feed you can find it from state to state and it’s consistent.
I personally think the best rig to travel in is a truck and living quarter’s trailer. Your first trailer should not be large; it will be too hard to get used to. Choose something with an air conditioner, a good bed, microwave and bathroom. Start out with something simple to haul, you can always upgrade.
Of course, it’s always important for me to keep my horse comfortable in the trailer. One day you are in a cold climate and the next it could be hot. I kept saying to RE, “I don’t know if my horse is hot or cold.” I told him so many times he finally stopped and said, “Martha, let’s put you back with your horse and you can check it out.” Fifty miles later, he let me out. I now have a temperature gauge in my trailer and a camera where I can see the gauge and watch my horse. I always have a solid foam matting to go under my horse mat so it would absorb shock. Also, I would look at the best stalling available. Check the stall for anything potentially harmful, such as musty hay, sharp nails, etc. Be safe and not sorry.
Try your best to keep your horse on a good feeding schedule. They will look forward to it; so that means don’t let your first feeding be at 10AM one day and 11:30 AM the next. Due to the different times for slack etc., your time will vary, but try to be consistent.
If you are on the road and need a veterinarian, check online or in the yellow pages of the telephone book under “veterinarian” or “large animal veterinarian.” As you plan your trip, write down the name and telephone number of that state’s veterinary school. You can call and ask for a recommendation for an equine veterinarian in a particular area of that state.
I believe it is necessary to keep thorough records. Travel with a calendar to help keep up with rodeos and horse shows you want to enter. Record dates of de-worming, when his teeth were floated, vaccinations, shoeing, etc. I like to keep a record of rodeos attended, dates, locations, conditions of the arena, stalling facilities, how I placed, what I won and if I want to go back!
When hauling, always keep good fresh hay for your horse to munch on. It helps to keep him from getting bored and I think it helps to avoid ulcers.
Plan your wardrobe before you leave. You need comfortable boots, a hat that will stay on, jeans and shirts that make you feel like a winner!
Learn how to read a road map. You can’t get to rodeos if you don’t know how to read a road map. A GPS is fine, but you visually need to see where you are going. If you need anything horse related while traveling, a good website to use is EquineUS.com. Whether it be a vet, a feed store, stall for the night, or anything horse related, you can quickly find what is near you, and even get a map to the location on EquineUS.com.
Have your body and health in the very best shape possible. The road is long and hard and you need to be ready. Exercise daily, eat right and learn to sleep when you get the opportunity. It is always best to haul with a partner whenever possible!
I hope you accomplish all of your goals this summer and travel safely with minimal problems. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Good luck! I’ll see you at the pay window.
Martha Josey personifies barrel racing for many people. She was the first and only cowgirl to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in four consecutive decades. She has the distinction of winning both the AQHA and WPRA World Championships in the same year. Her career has stretched, win-to-win, over four decades.
For more information, visit BarrelRacers.com