Cowgirls are boss babes in and out of the arena, between presentations, competing, and so much more! As we all know, the majority of these are 90% mental. A couple of known cowgirls have shared their tips for mental preparation before a big event.
How do you prepare for a big moment, whether it be going into an arena, a presentation, or another event?
Tylor Todd, a champion reined cow horse competitor, shares, “Before I show I always pray that God’s plan will take place and to keep my horse and I safe. Then I go over my game plan and give myself a little pep talk. I tell myself before I go in to let my run happen and not to force anything. Forcing a win to happen usually results in too much pressure and that leads to a mistake. When I let my run happen, I let myself relax and show my horse to the best of my ability.”
Sarah Armstrong, one of Cowgirl Magazine’s own 30 Under 30, says, “The biggest aspect in my preparation is my faith in God and the person that has made me. He allows me to be confident in whatever I’m doing and I trust his plan. Scripture always helps me set a positive mood for the day and prepares me for anything big. Matthew 17:20, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’
“Mental clarity and preparation are huge for me. Most things you do in life, even the rough sport of rodeo is more of a mental game than anything. I like to make sure I’ve got a positive mindset and have done all the studying or practice I need, which allows me to be successful, confident, and stay more focused when nerves kick in. Study your clear objectives and watch other people that are successful at it. Listen to others’ advice and criticism, don’t let pride or embarrassment get in the way of your success. Everyone has to start somewhere. Listen to podcasts, watch videos of how you’d like to perform, and practice like crazy.
“If you’re doing something physical, do everything you can think of to perform to your maximum ability, obviously hit the gym, have a healthy specific diet, take care of your mental health, study the exact mechanics you need and listen to your body. Invest in yourself! If you choose a party over working at your goals, don’t be upset if you don’t succeed. Know what your priorities are, sometimes you’re going to miss out on the fun stuff. A good pump-up music playlist or motivational speaker really helps me get prepared as well.
“I have a pretty confident and hard-working personality in the first place, but can get nervous when I haven’t practiced hard enough or it’s a big performance, and it’s a good reminder that trophies are won at home practicing. I didn’t come from money or a rodeo family. I had to work long hard hours to buy what I needed, and teach myself most of what I know to be successful. I made it to HS finals on a horse I trained myself, taking risks, and roping the dummy until my hands were too cramped to work right. The odds were definitely stacked against me but I just did what it took to make it. Hard work and putting in the hours will always pay off no matter what you’re chasing. I’ve always appreciated the quote ‘Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.’ Don’t make excuses.
“One more thing I’ve had to learn, is that burnout can be real. Just because you spend two extra days ‘hustling’ to be better, if you’re burnt out you might be doing more harm than good. I’ve had to take two days off even if it’s something I generally love, to be better mentally or physically for the next three months. While two days lost when someone else is out practicing to beat you might seem bad, it can be paid back in the future. Quality over quantity can be important. Work hard, but work smart!”
Barrel racer, Maddi Kempf-Stoltman, advises, “How I handle these things can be situation-dependent. That said, I think picking a few key goals for whatever you’re approaching is important. In a barrel run, I do my work at home then a few minutes before my run I get in the zone. I focus on what my main objective is for that run. It may be to finish my second barrel. Maybe a straighter approach to the first…but really focus on that one goal! I think we tend to overwhelm ourselves with too many things, and then we really can’t focus on anything at all.”
What piece of advice would you give to someone about to go into a big moment?
Tylor Todd: “I would say to believe in you and your horse’s ability. So many times I’ve psyched myself out because I didn’t believe my horse or I could achieve what we wanted but when I started to believe that we could achieve my goals that’s when it’s fun and easy to go show in a big moment.”
Sarah Armstrong: “Do all the preparation you can ahead of time, then go in and enjoy what you have been working towards when the time comes. Give it to God and do what you came there for…to have fun! If you don’t love what you do, you’re doing it wrong!”
Maddi Kempf-Stoltman: “Be present, and be grateful. Life gives us many opportunities and all we can do is face them head on and do the best we can! Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn. More than anything I think gratitude for the opportunities we’re given is so key. Another important reminder, you’re capable of more than you may think. Don’t doubt the opportunities that come your way. You’re capable, you’re deserving, and those moments are meant for YOU! Go get it!”