Is the Dreaded “E-Word” Holding You Back from Your Horse Goals?

horse goalsExcuses. We all have them. Those ugly little barriers between where we are and where we would like to be. And I feel fully qualified to elaborate on this particular topic because I have plenty of my own.

Here is one of my favorite quotes by Jim Rohn: “If you really want to do something you’ll find a way, if you don’t you’ll find an excuse.”

And it is so true, isn’t it? The things we accomplish in life are the ones that we set as priorities. We don’t let anything stop us. We don’t let anything stand in our way.

But the problem is, there is only so much of us to go around. We can’t have a dozen different priorities and expect to excel at any of them. That’s why our hobbies are often the things that get put on the back burner behind work and kids and ailing parents and our own health. That’s why, if you’re born into ranching or rodeo or horses, it is often much easier to stick with it because it is literally something that is woven into the fabric of your life.

Fully immersing yourself in the western lifestyle is much more difficult if you are someone who is on the outside looking in. There are so many different considerations to make. Even if it is something you have wanted your whole entire life.

Here is why:

time“I don’t have the time.”

This one right here is one of my favorites. “I would love to go compete on my horse, but I don’t have time.” That one may be ¬†mine, but feel free to insert your own.

I’m pretty sure lack of time is the leading excuse for most anything we want to do but “can’t.” And it isn’t an entirely invalid excuse. There really are only so many hours in a day. But it is entirely up to us how we choose to spend those hours. Our lack of ability to rearrange our hectic schedules is limited only by our own imaginations.

The truth is, if I made competition my top priority, I would find the time to go do it. I would get up at the crack of dawn and go ride. I would load up and drive somewhere after work to go practice. I would do anything and everything to accomplish this goal if it was important enough to me. It’s not that it isn’t important, it’s just that I have chosen to make other things in my life, like this blog and podcast, my top priority for the time being.

And I admit, I do struggle with that decision from time to time. I feel very guilty for letting my horses stand out in the pasture many days that I could be riding them because I have made the conscious decision to postpone that priority in favor of this one. But I also have a pretty solid plan in place for the next season of my life. It involves less work and more horses. And I can only get there by putting in the time now.

Moral of the story? It’s ok to not “have time” (or more appropriately, “make time”) for your hobbies and interests right now. But please, don’t put it off forever. Know, “when I finish this, I will move onto that, ” and follow through. As they say, you will always regret the things you didn’t do far more than the things you did.

money“I don’t have the money.”

Another one of my personal favorites right here. Let’s be honest, having horses or livestock of any kind is not cheap. Even just dressing the part with a reasonably high-quality cowboy hat and boots is going to cost you several hundred dollars.

Everyone is going to be in an entirely unique situation when it comes to finances, but there are ways to make adjustments. First, you could make more. Or second, you could spend less.

I know those are completely oversimplified solutions to a complex problem, but allow me to provide some examples.

In the “make more” column, I know several friends who sell something in addition to their regular income to pay for horse expenses. Some might opt to become a dealer for a horse product or maybe even an MLM (multi-level marketing company) that interests them. For instance, Hay Chix, has a dealer program (and a great product). And several of my friends are selling products like Thrive and Plexus to support their horse activities.

There are literally hundreds of options out there. the key is finding something that resonates with you and isn’t going to create more of a challenge for you around the first excuse (lack of time).

As far as spending less, I read a great article on this topic just the other day. And I really wish I had saved it so I could share it with you because I just looked for it again and couldn’t find it. But the basic gist is this recurring theme…if you really want it you will find a way. The article was specifically on the topic of showing your horse on a tight budget, but it really applies to whatever it is you want to do with horses or any other type of livestock.

You don’t need the fanciest truck or trailer or gear to go make a go of it. If I didn’t have a truck payment, I could afford to compete more with my horses. How would I get there? I could hitch a ride with someone else or I could buy a less expensive vehicle. And instead of paying for an expensive hotel room, I could camp out in my truck.

I know I refer to World Champion Barrel Racer, Fallon Taylor pretty regularly, but for good reason. She has a great message to share (sorry about the blurry screenshot – click on the image for the original post):


Whatever your goals are, you can achieve them if you are willing to do whatever it takes. If you’re not willing to do whatever it takes, it’s time to adjust your goals.

new-york-945240_640“I live in the wrong place.”

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Well, that’s easy for you to say. You live in Montana, surrounded by ranches and horses and cattle and countless opportunities…”

I have two responses to that.

a.) I consciously chose to live here.

b.) You may have more opportunity than you realize.

If you feel limited in what you are able to learn and do in the area where you live, it might be time to consider relocating. “But I have a family and career and friends here.” I get it. Those are important considerations to make when determining how much you are willing to do to accomplish your goals. But none of those challenges are insurmountable.

It is possible to change jobs. Maybe it is even possible to keep your job and work remotely. Kids will adjust to new schools. You will make new friends.

I am in no way trying to undermine your concerns, but rather illustrate that your shackles are self-imposed. How bad do you want it?

For the sake of illustration, the biggest concentration of professional rodeo cowboys, by far, is located in Texas. And chances are, even if they live somewhere else, they spend a good part of the year there. But not all of them started out in Texas. So why would they all want to live in such close quarters? I mean after all, they can build an arena and practice anywhere.

Because I really enjoy Jim Rohn quotes, here is another one: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Those professional rodeo cowboys gravitate toward one another because they know it makes them better.

To address point b), in many cases, you may not even need to move. You might just need to do some sleuthing to determine what is available in your area that you aren’t aware of, yet.

I have a little secret to share with you, if your goal is to excel in a certain form of riding, say barrel racing for instance, and you can’t find anywhere near you that gives barrel racing lessons, you may need to search offline.

I understand better than almost anyone how much we truly rely on Google to find answers to our problems. But many horse business owners are not entirely internet-marketing-literate (though I am trying to alleviate this in some small way). In some areas, you are more likely to find information at your local feed store than online, so go there and ask around.

If your research still doesn’t return exactly what you’re looking for, improvise. You have to start somewhere and doing anything is better than doing nothing. If the only place in your area that offers riding lessons is an English barn, go take a lesson. Even though it may not lead to your end-goal, you will learn priceless fundamentals that will help you no matter where you end up. And you might even decide you love it so much, you don’t even want to pursue your original goal. It’s perfectly ok to change your mind, too.

I would recommend if you are very driven and determined to accomplish something in particular and you are able, moving might be in your best interest. If you are a little more of a beginner and still feeling out where you might want to end up, just start somewhere.

fear-772516_640“I’m scared.”

This might not be one we fully acknowledge or are perhaps even really aware of, but it is almost always there. Fear of making the wrong decision. Fear of being misunderstood. Fear of being mocked for making a fool of ourselves.

Take comfort in this: we are all scared. Every single one of us. Our fears may vary slightly but we all have them. The key is being willing to face them.

Consider those amazing people like Amberley Snyder who became paralyzed after a car accident but continued to pursue her rodeo dreams, and was able to fulfill a huge one last year when she competed in the barrel racing at The American.

Or Willie Hart who lost his right arm and suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident and wasn’t even expected to live. All he wanted to do was team rope again, even after the doctors said he never would. He trained himself to rope with his left arm.

These people have valid reasons to be afraid. Being horseback is more dangerous than it ever was before. But maybe once your worst fears are realized, the smaller ones fade away. All I know is when I look at their stories, I think, “if they can do it, I surely can.”

I was recently inspired by one of my Facebook friends. A young woman who I met in person not long ago. I could tell immediately, she has a “go-getter” personality. She runs her own business and takes on several other endeavors in her industry. And she has a horse, which I never would have guessed had she not told me.

She’s not someone who grew up with horses. She made a conscious decision to own one and to go have fun with him by competing at local omoksees and ranch ropings. Yesterday, she posted a video on her page from a ranch roping she had gone to. She hadn’t picked up a rope in three years and had never roped off of her horse before. I don’t know about you but that alone probably would have been enough to talk myself out of going, but not her.

She went and entered and posted the video on Facebook. The run wasn’t fast or pretty but it was effective. And her team ended up winning their division, which never would have happened if she had talked herself out of going the way so many of us do. Now she has a confidence boost and bragging rights and I would be very surprised if she missed the next event. All because she chose to be fearless. To shut off that pesky nagging voice so many of us house in our brains that tells us, “you’re not good enough.”

Her outcome is not going to happen every time you overcome your excuses and go do something. But once in awhile it will. And you can rest assured if you do nothing, that nothing is going to happen.

A Challenge.

So here’s my challenge to you just do something in the direction of your goal, whatever that may be. If you want to learn to ride, call a local stable this week and make an inquiry. If your goal is to compete in your local barrel racing association, look up the dates of upcoming events and decide which ones you want to go to. If you’re completely lost and are not sure what to do, shoot me an email and I would be glad to help however I can.

Then leave a comment below and share what step or steps you’ve taken!


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Tim Whitehead

    I found a lotof the things mentoined in this story to be quiet true. When i moved to canada a few yaers ago . I was scarried to death. If i could still make a living up here as a horse trainer. I struggled at first being unknow up here. But it started to pickup. And me and my wife decide together to lead a simple life .once we done that a lot preasure went away and belief it or not our little outfit startedto grow. Instead of worrying about every little thing life got alot simpler and happier. And also made me a better trainer. For all i focused on was training horses a place to lay my head at night and food on the table. And let my hard work take care of the rest. Thinks to finding this website .It give me the shot in the arm I need.

    1. Alyssa Barnes
      Alyssa Barnes

      Thanks for sharing, Tim! We are definitely our own worst enemies, aren’t we? I’m so glad you’ve found a way to make it work!

  2. Tim Whitehead

    So true we are our worst enemie always willthink worst gona happen. Then once doing that certain thing. It,s like i coulda done this. Why I have been working only thinking ostive while exercising or doing chorse. I found life lot more diffrent looking.

  3. Christie

    Absolutely love this post. We all make the same excuses, but we all get the same 24 hours!

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