Being a good horseman/woman is more than just being kind to your horses. It’s about understanding their needs. Accepting what you can handle and what you cannot. Teaching your horse to respect you without breaking their spirit. Providing them with what they need to succeed as well as taking care of yourself so that you can be the best rider you can be! For me, being a good horseman is providing them with a quality feed, good hay, supplements if needed and keeping their feet good. I also want to make sure they are in shape to compete at the level that they are their best. We don’t just load up and go run barrels. We ride. We ride many days a week and stay in shape. I will admit that I could be stronger. But I am working on me so that my horses don’t have to work extra to keep me in my place! My hauling horses are prone to ulcers as many performance horses are, so they get daily supplements for ulcers. Barrel racing is hard on the joints so we also take care of our joints with supplements and injections. I feel that to be at our best, we need to ride AT LEAST 3 days the week of and in between. If I can’t ride, I won’t run. It’s not fair to my horses to expect them to run when they are out of shape. Another thing about being a good horseman is having fitting tack. When your saddle doesn’t fit, it causes pain. If your horse is in pain, he will react. Having good quality tack is important if you expect the best! Then there is how we ride. You must be forgiving but have a firm hand. Soft, but firm. Your horse should be able to respond to your requests with the lightest touch. If you horse can’t do that, then more home riding needs to occur or you need to find someone to help! There is a difference between a “broke” horse and a “trained horse”. That is for a later discussion!