Dusky Lynn Hall is the 8-year-old that has been the talk of the barrel racing world in 2022. She isn’t just winning youth races—she’s taking the adults’ money. Everywhere from the Christmas in Dixie Race in Jackson, Mississippi, where she pocketed nearly $10,000 in earnings and dominated the entire weekend, to The American Semifinals, where she punched two tickets to Cowtown Coliseum, Hall is carving out a name for herself in a cutthroat industry. Hall’s parents have lost count of the saddles, buckles, and other awards she has won in the past year, and her nearly $100,000 in earnings over the past 365 days make her appear to be an overnight sensation. However, the standout kiddo is the result of her parents’ careful upbringing and consistent effort, not just a stroke of good luck.
Dusky Lynn has been successful on multiple horses, with different bloodlines, from different trainers, and many are wondering how she has become such a talented jockey at such a young age. Her mother, Dusky Hall, had a successful youth barrel racing career as well, running on some of the biggest stages in the world before she was a teenager. Hall sat down with Barrel Racing Magazine to share what her mother, Dusky Lynn’s grandmother, taught her about the sport of barrel racing, and what she has learned through her own experiences raising two kids in the sport of rodeo.
READ PART I OF THIS SERIES FOR CUES ON LEADING BY EXAMPLE, PICKING THE RIGHT HORSE AND MUCH MORE.
6. Don’t force the speed.
Every barrel racer has likely watched in horror as a child was matched up with a spectacular horse that was simply too much for them to handle and has seen accidents occur both inside and outside of the arena because of the parent’s desire to have their child winning.
“You hear so many parents pushing their kids to go faster, and the kids aren’t ready for it. They might see other kids going faster, but you have to remember that not every kid excels at the same rate,” Hall said. “If parents can just be patient with the child, they will progress much faster than if you pressure them to do it. I made that mistake.”
Hall’s son, now 17, is a successful roper, but he nearly gave up on rodeo due to a mistake Hall made as a young mother. She fell into the trap of over mounting her son because she wanted him to win. He ended up falling off at the first rodeo, and his confidence took years to rebuild because of her mistake.
When it came time for Dusky Lynn to learn, Hall was more experienced and made sure that she was riding each horse to its fullest ability before stepping up to a new mount.
“We step up when she’s riding a horse for every ounce of its ability, and she’s ahead of it, whipping and kicking and asking them for every ounce,” Hall explained. “I don’t have her feet tied forward; she’s never ridden in a Magic Seat. I always thought that if she can’t ride it, we need to slow down.”
7. Make it real.
Although Hall doesn’t allow Dusky Lynn to make runs on her older, seasoned horses at home, she does her best to alleviate competition stress by creating a realistic practice environment in the family’s covered arena. They have a sound system and will crank the music up while they practice. This helps not only keep riding time fun, but also helps Dusky Lynn grow accustomed to distractions and noises while she is working with her horses. They created an alleyway in the arena as well, so that Dusky Lynn can learn and prepare for different approaches to the first barrel. These tactics help to set Dusky Lynn up for success, because when she makes it to a race, she has already practiced different setups and prepared for distractions, so she feels comfortable and confident in her abilities.
8. Look at the big picture.
At the end of the day, your child’s success or mistakes in the arena will not define them. Part of the goal of raising a great competitor also means raising a great human being. Hall is working hard to keep Dusky Lynn grounded and focused, despite her massive successes.
In conclusion, when asked what her goal is with her daughter, Hall hopes that one day, when she is older and her coaching days in the arena are a distant memory, that the values she has instilled in her daughter will make her one day be the type of mother with the same patience and love as she grew up receiving. Hall is not only teaching her daughter how to jockey fast horses, but how to be kind and show grace along the way.
“I just hope that she always stays humble and true to where she came from,” Hall said in conclusion.
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