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How do you know if you have a good barrel racing horse? Because I have this 2 year old colt and I wanted to know how to find out what he is good at and see if he would be a good barrel racing horse.

-- "LittleSpirit"


How do you know if you have a good barrel racing horse? By measuring its spirit. I really don't think there's any other way to judge a good horse.

Nobody thought Seabiscuit would make a great race horse until somebody gave him a fighting chance. Notre Dame football legend Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger was only 5 feet 6 inches and weighed 165 lbs. He didn't become an example of dreams come true until someone gave him a chance. Eighteen year old Audie Murphy weighed in at only 112 pounds, yet the little Texas farm kid became the most highly decorated hero of World War Two -- and later a famous movie star. And then there was a little shepherd boy who nobody figured had a chance against the giant Goliath.

Yeh, there are certain physical characteristics that may give a horse an advantage -- good legs, a low center of gravity, flexibility, large nostrils, etc. But without a willing spirit, all of those things just add up to a great might-have-been.

And remember that barrel racing is a team sport. An excellent horse without a rider to match won't amount to much. Do you really have a "little spirit," as your e-mail name suggests? Or is your spirit actually big enough to match that of a willing horse? Are you willing to put in long, patient hours at building the skills, strength, and coordination that both you and your horse will need to win? Give me an "average" horse with a willing heart and a rider with a heart to match, and I'll show you the makings of a winning barrel racing team.

In other words, the only way you can answer your question is by giving that horse -- and yourself -- a fighting chance. And if you find that the answer is "no" in that area, keep looking until you find out what you and your horse are good at. Did you ever hear the old saying, "God don't make junk"? I believe that's true with horses as well as with people. Sometimes it just takes a while to find the right sort of activity.

I hope this helps clarify your thinking a bit... and that both you and that two-year-old can find your way to greatness -- hopefully, together.

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