Preparing for the Win with Martha Josey

Over the span of 5 decades, Martha Josey qualified to the NFR 11x, won an Olympic team Gold medal, and has taught thousands of students and has hosted barrel racing clinics across the country. Martha and her team continue to teach clinics years round as well as host two of the longest running barrel races, The Josey Reunion Round Up and Josey Junior World.

Martha believes being ready to win not only stems from a mental aspect, but also having a good preparation program leading up to events months in advance. “My goal is to have every detail, starting before I leave home right up to my name being called, taken care of in advance. With this done, my concentration cannot be broken, and my motivation allows me to perform at the highest possible level for the horse I am riding,” says Martha.

Here are Martha’s preparations leading up to a winning run:

Prior to Leaving

“It all starts before I leave home. I like to make a check list to ensure that when I arrive, I have everything I need and will not have to borrow or purchase anything.”

Marthas Personal Checklist:

Hat, boots, stampede string, long sleeve shirt, belt, spurs, and bat.

Martha’s Horses Checklist:

Competition bit, competition bridle, practice bit on bridle, overreach boots, splint boots, saddle pad, saddle, breast-collar, grooming essentials, MVP’s pre-race pastes Gastro-Plex and Breathe’ O2.

Gastro-Plex is given prior to a long haul or run to help to soothe and coat the stomach. Breathe’ O2 helps open up the airways naturally and aids in muscle recovery.

Martha always packs extra hay, Purina feed, and MVP’s Exceed 6-Way, “Keeping my horse on a regular feeding schedule is highly important, I always pack feed so my horse can be fed on schedule even if I’m returning home that night.”


It is a must to always start your haul with a cleaned trailer. Hanging a thermometer inside your trailer can help you know when to remove blankets, open and close windows, etc. “During the trip I will unload him periodically so he can stretch, relieve himself, and drink plenty of water in a safe area,” says Martha.


“My goal is to arrive at the show with plenty of time for my horse to overcome the stress of hauling before I ask him to perform.” Keeping your horse out of the sun and in the shade whenever possible can prevent your horse from becoming drained by the sun. Martha also recommends to always inspect the area around your trailer and stall to look for nails or other dangers. “Another tip that I like to keep in mind is parking toward the alley end of the arena. So, as we are running the pattern my horse can stay focused and not think we are heading back to the trailer until running home.” After unloading walking your horse out can decrease stiffness. Always be sure to offer a drink of water, Electro-Cell paste can be given the day before if you know your horse is not a good drinker. Inspect you horse from head to toe to check for injuries or loose shoes. By doing this if there is a problem you may be able to resolve it before your run if detected early.

Study the Set Up

If the arena is open let your horse see it and walk around inside. Always take note where the timer is in relation to the alley and where the barrels/stakes are situated. If you can, try to get some slow work in on the barrel pattern while the arena is open. “Spend some time in the alley way just sitting or calmly walking in and out so you and your horse can visualize your upcoming run. Be sure to locate your “spot” that you will be running to 5-6 feet away from your first barrel.” Martha also suggests you get familiar with where you will be warming up and waiting for your name to be called in the daylight vs at night.

Preparing for Your Run

“Now that you have gotten your horse familiar with the arena conditions, allow him to relax.” Martha recommends if you run early in the show or rodeo, feed him half of his regular portions. If you run late, feed him the full amount. Just like you, your horse will perform better if he is not hungry!” Make sure to regularly offer water to your horse.

Prior to your run Martha, suggests you pay your entry fees and fill out paperwork early, get your competition clothes ready, and decide what number runner or event you need to go saddle up on. Take time to get your mental game plan and start visualizing walking down the alley and running toward your spot. Think through what your hands, legs, and body will be doing.

After you saddle your horse, wet a washcloth with cool water and rub your horse’s face down. This will cool your horse off and refresh him before the hard work begins. “I also try to get my horse to use the bathroom before I get on. Some horses will relieve themselves when they get in the trailer or if you put some shavings down for them to stand on.” One of Martha’s most popular tips is to clean her horse’s feet out and spray Pam baking spray on her horse’s hooves to prevent dirt from packing. Give yourself time to properly warm up your horse so you are not in a hurry, this will keep your horse calm.

All these fine details put into the prep work leading up to the run help make winning possible. Arriving early can eliminate unnecessary stress. There may be times you cannot be there early, this makes your preparation work even more important. Martha has proved for decades being organized and prepared will give you an advantage.