Hello everyone! Today we have a timely article for you all about preparing for barrel racing season! The more prepared and well-planned you are, the better your show season is going to go. We have compiled a list of the top rodeo and barrel racing season prep tips out there and made an easy-to-access list for you!
Over the years I have learned a lot about trailer prep and show season planning. I’m currently an equine writer and travel agent, so I don’t do the physical planning and preparation anymore… but, during my years working as a trainer, barn manager, show groom, and all the other parts and pieces that make up the barn team, I have learned a few things about trailer preparation, travel planning, and have done just about everything wrong you can do in the book. So, here are some ways for you to get it right, without having to get it wrong 100 million times like I did! That is one of my favorite parts about the equestrian world, especially barrel racers and rodeo-goers, we’re all here to help and share experiences and bless one another. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
Get your calendar set
As someone who rode and showed all over the US and attended a lot of events every year, the one thing I look back on and really shake my head at is the fact that I never really had a well-laid-out calendar system in place. Having all of your events laid out on a calendar is a great way to stay on track and prepare for barrel racing season effectively. If you know when all of your events are, and where, you are going to be mentally and physically prepared to tackle barrel racing season with a winning and effective attitude!
Familiarize yourself with the event grounds
Being familiar with the event grounds or areas you will visit during rodeo season will help ease travel and competition stress. This stress does not just affect you, keep that in mind. The more stressed you are, the more stressed out your horse is going to be and the less competitive you will be as a team. Know where you need to be, when, and know the area. This will set a professional attitude as the standard for your riding career and will keep you focused.
Pre-plan and pre-pack
Up until the point where I became a professional groom and assistant trainer, I used to always wait until (almost) the last minute to pack my personal and show items, and would even wait until the night of to double check that the trailer was in order. This is definitely the most stressful and ineffective way to plan a competition. Plan ahead and give yourself time to go through every item in your trailer by hand and perform and deep cleaning at least twice a year. Providing yourself with a week to plan prior to your trip will effectively give you time to plan, pack, organize, clean, and get ready.
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Preparing for barrel racing season means organization, here are our top tips
- Create a barrel racing binder
- Keep copies of your important information with you at all times, but never bring the original documents
- Plan ahead of time and don’t wait until last minute to begin planning and preparing. That is a good way to miss place or even forget something.
What should I put into my barrel racing binder?
- Your information
- Your horse’s information/ registration papers
- Medical records (for you and your horse)
- Any pertinent information
- Show records, schedule, patterns, etc/
This is practically all of the same information you will need to have if you are traveling with your horse to an competition, event, or any other ordeal this year. Remember, it may seem obvious, but organization is key! It is a lot easier to think about planning and preparation than actually exercising great deals of consistent organization. Consistent organization is the end all to planning and preparation, it makes everything about 100 times easier!
When is the best time to start packing and planning?
The best time to start planning and prepping is actually NOW! The earlier you start preparing the better. This isn’t to say you need to spend every waking moment planning, prepping, and packing, but if everything is set to go and fairly ready, it will make adding the final packing and planning touches a breeze! Here is our quick run down of when you should be doing what to make it simple.
Before the season starts
Before your show and event season begins it is a good idea to have your trailer prepped, and ready to roll. Make sure all of your truck and trailer maintenance is up to date.
All of your non-daily use equipment you use at the shows and events should be cleaned and organized in your trailer
If the back of your trailer isn’t already cleaned out (it should be prior to storage, but life happens.) make sure it gets cleaned, scrubbed, sanitized, and re-prepped. You will also want to double check the safety of your floorboards.
Before/after each event
What I personally like to do before each event is to clean, load, and organize my trailer, usually using a checklist to make sure everything is in there. Once Im finished, I will go back over and through everything to make sure all is set. If you are packing a few weeks before or at a point where you may be using things and then putting them back in the trailer, make sure that you go through your prep check list once again before you take off.
After each event, a deep clean is a great idea, but not necessary if you did one prior to the show season beginning.
Here is my after show checklist
- Wash and clean out the trailer.
- Clean tack and items/ reorganize and put away.
- Clean out back of the trailer, sanitize, and rebed.
- Post trip truck and trailer inspection.
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In the case of back to back events
If you have ever had a show or event back to back, then you understand the mass craziness that occurs at the end of one event and the start of another. You are running around to and from, packing, unpacking, loading horses, driving, trying to find the next place, etc. Here are some great ideas to help ease the craziness of back to back events.
At the end of the first show, take some time to properly clean and organize your belongings before you are putting them away in the trailer. Take the extra time to unpack and repack as best as you can to set yourself up for success for the next event. This can also be handy to do if you are at an exceptionally long event. Some of the shows I have been to in the past have been multi-week long shows…. staying organized during these types of events in nearly impossible unless you take the time to make sure everything stays where it ought to and put in the extra effort to keep thing running smoothly.
My next tip is to pre-plan by knowing exactly where you are going, when, and when you need to be there, and how long it is going to take. Make sure you think about pit stops and various tasks that may eat up time when on the road.
After season deep cleaning
Once your season ends its time to get back to work once again! Make sure that your trailer and essentials are properly put away, maintained, cleaned, and properly set up for winter/ freezing temperatures, and storage.
Clean all of your tack and equipment, and make sure to never leave it in your trailer. It will become a moldy mess.
I also like to deep clean my trailer before I put it away for winter at this point as well. Have a mechanic (a good one at that..) look over your trailer for an needed repairs and fixes. If you are curious about winterization specific for your trailer, calling your manufacturer is always a great idea. This will also ensure that you are meeting the standards/requirements set for upholding warranties and additional services you may have purchased when you bought the trailer.
Preparing your trailer
Preparing your truck and trailer for rodeo and competition season is important because your truck and trailer get you and your horse where you need to go. Many people will not take proper care of their vehicles, and eventually, it will bite them. Make sure that you service your truck and trailer frequently and keep up to date with all of the preparation tasks. It is also a good idea to always perform an pre and post trip inspection.
If you want a great in-depth book all about trailering, check out our Augustus M. Walton book on Amazon! Written by a seasoned equine professional with special insights from a heavy duty diesel mechanic, welder, fabrication, and diagnostics specialist, Cody Ridge.
How do I find a great barrel racing horse? Check out our guide here: Finding A Champion Barrel Racing Prospect
What kinds of additional care can I give my barrel racing horse? Read more here: Complementary Care for Barrel Racing Horses
Want to learn more about barrel racing horse nutrition? Check out this handy guide: Fuel Your Performance: The Essential Guide to Barrel Racing Nutrition
Have you had National Finals Rodeo dreams? Check out our NFR GUIDE! NFR Guide: Making Your Barrel Racing Dreams a Reality
Final thoughts on preparing for barrel racing season
Well thanks for joining us on another article, this time we talked all about preparing for barrel racing season, and we hope this article has provided some essential insight on smart prep. You can take these tips straight from me, someone who has done the worst and (arguably… maybe) some of the best trailer preparation jobs known to man! Let us know what your favorite and not so favorite parts of prepping for barrel racing season are below in the comments! Have a great day and God bless you all.