Kylie Whiteside

To Run. Or, Not to Run.

There’s earnings, standings and pride at risk. Is it worth the risk?

We have all shown up to a jackpot or rodeo when the ground conditions have been less than ideal. Whether it be due to Mother Nature, or simply, just not safe. We watch girls go out and “safety up”, while others go for it.

How do we know what we should do, and what is at risk?

There is ground that can handle copious amounts of rain and still be safe, yet subconsciously in the back of our minds we are thinking, “What if?”

There are some horses that can handle those sorts of conditions, still we need to ask ourselves, is it worth it to put our horses, and ourselves at risk for one run? Depending what is at stake for the winning run, we always need to think of the longevity of ourselves and our horses.

When I was competing at the Calgary Stampede one year, it poured right before the performance on Day 4. Go figure. I was right on the bubble for qualifying for the Sunday Showdown, and needed to do something. Luckily, I was not the first one out to test the ground. I sat back and watched a few girls go, some were too safe, and some went for it, and ended up slipping, or cruising on by the barrels because their horses had nothing to get a hold of.

In my mind, I was scared.

I love my horse.

Running in the mud places you and your horse at risk.

Right before I ran, I had a memory of a couple years prior, where I was fortunate enough to get a great piece of advice from a great Canadian champion barrel racer and futurity trainer. She told me, “Sometimes you just need to sacrifice a run. It doesn’t matter where you are, and what is up for grabs. Just slow it down, and make a confidence run.”

I know Captain can run. I knew if I really controlled that first barrel, he could get a feel for the ground. My goal was to be safe in the turns, and really push him in between. In the mud, that is where you can make up your time. And it worked! We were safe, clean, and qualified for the Sunday Showdown. And what an experience!

So when conditions are less than ideal, if you are unsure, remember that piece of advice that was offered to me at one time, and in the long run, it will pay off.

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