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Jenn Zeller / Special to Agweek

Letting go of perfection

As I've driven around the country this winter and spring chasing my rodeo dreams, a few things have become clear to me:

• I don't always look for the opportunity in everything. I'll be the first to admit that I don't always view the world through rose-colored-glasses. In fact, by nature I'm kind of a glass-half-empty, Negative-Nancy-obstructionist, who always tries to find the reasons why something or someone, or whatever WON'T work. I'll list off several reasons why something is a bad idea, or why it's an inconvenience to me, long before I ever get around to realizing why it's actually an opportunity for self-improvement or, God forbid, may actually make my life easier! My mother will tell you I've been that way my whole life. My significant other will say, that's not a reason to continue down that path. He's right.

• I've not been grateful for the people that allow me the opportunity I'm given. There's an entire team of people home on the ranch doing my chicken chores, feeding the team of senior citizen horses and otherwise taking care of things while I'm gone. I don't need to worry about anything on the road because I know this crew has it covered. And if there wasn't a crew, I'd be here on the ranch, instead of chasing my dreams! Thanks, team!

• Adversity can come in many forms. Recently, as I de-winterized my trailer so as to carry water on board for showering and washing dishes and what not, the hot water heater took a header and sort of exploded, causing a massive flood. Fortunately the next day, I was headed to Verndale, Minn., and wouldn't you know, there's a trailer dealership that's part of the arena complex, and they were able to fix me up. So instead of panic, I called them, sent them a photo of what I had, and when I arrived on Friday afternoon, I got my horses unloaded, took the trailer next door, had lunch, and boom — new hot water heater. The old me might have lost her mind over this. The new, always-improving me realizes that the "blessed are the flexible."

• I was looking at riding my horse as a chore and not as fun. I wanted to cry before I ran, was hitting barrels and otherwise riding like I've never ridden a barrel horse before in my life. I had to let go. I had to give up this need to prove something — whatever it is that I think I need to prove I don't know — but it had to go.

When I let go of the idea that I have to be perfect, and just decided to enjoy the opportunity and this awesome horse I've been granted, wouldn't you know, it started to come together. I didn't want to cry before I ran. I let down, let go. I chose to focus on one goal — smoke the first barrel (in other words, ride my horse to it correctly) and let the run make itself from there. Sometimes, we need to let go, focus on one thing and one thing only, and let everything else fall into place ... like the opportunity to ride a fast horse, away from home, with a great team behind you that makes it all possible.

Happy Trails!

Editor's note: Zeller is a South Dakota cattle rancher who raises Angus, Brangus and Quarter Horses with her husband and his family. Contact her at