Prepare to be Inspired

This past week I had the honor to be invited to do a 2-day cutting clinic in Oklahoma with 16 veterans and 15 National Cutting Horse Association professional trainers. One vet was paired with one trainer/coach – all in preparation for team competition in Fort Worth in mid-July during the NCHA Summer Spectacular.

The July teams will consist of one vet and one regional champion youth – both coached by one trainer as their team captain.

We had an amazing time. Thank you, BraveHearts, for inviting me to be a team coach (huge honor). The entire experience was moving and fun – all at the same time! And my horse, Nic, did a great job helping Alex Rodriguez, our veteran teammate, learn the ropes of cutting.

I interviewed Alex about his clinic experiences. He had a blast. And he shared how learning to breathe saved his life. That’s what this video is all about.


Hi. I’m Barbra Schulte, and I’m here with Alex Rodriguez. We are in Oklahoma. It’s a beautiful day, and it’s our second day at the BraveHearts’ clinic.

BraveHearts, which is the largest therapeutic horse riding program in the country, has paired up with the National Cutting Horse Association for a future cutting competition in Fort Worth in July. There will be one trainer/team caption with one veteran and one youth. I have the honor and privilege of being with Alex. Alex’s horse to ride is Nic.

Hi Alex. Good morning! And Nic, good morning to you, too.

So Alex, what was it like to work a cow for the very first time?

To work a cow for the first time was extremely exciting. I was a little nervous. My background from when I was younger is in motocross. Working a horse on a cow was a lot of adrenaline-like – an animal that’s not predictable. It’s just amazing. It’s hard to describe it in words. I had to trust Nic to respond. It was something else.

What was it like riding Nic?

Well…that was fun! All you have to tell the horse or suggest to the horse is how to go and trust. It’s about trusting Nic to do his job. He did it flawlessly. He said, “Hang on. Tell me when to stop, and I got the rest.” He was a joy to ride.

Alex did an awesome job riding Nic. I have to say.

So, Alex, I want to share with everyone about when we first started yesterday. We were riding around, and you were talking about breathing and how you have been breathing while you ride for a long time. Please share what you said with everyone. Alex was teaching me about breathing.

From riding horses and being in the military, when I got out, I didn’t have the best experience getting out.

I was homeless for a little bit, bouncing around – but I pulled myself out of that. But my biggest thing was having anxiety.

I couldn’t go into places, and I couldn’t talk to people. I couldn’t even do something like this without feeling like I was small and like the weight of the world was on me.

The horses will reflect what you put on them, so every time I get on a horse or every time I have an issue now, I can zero myself out. I can breathe out, and then the horse will respond to that because they pick that right up.

It’s the one thing that’s helped me the most in life. Not only can I do it on a horse, but when I’m in a stressful situation – you know everyday things I couldn’t do before – I slow the world down, start back up – and go. Then it’s just a matter of how many times it takes. But it’s the number one thing that helps, not only with horses but with life in general. It’s just about getting yourself at that base level, like, ok, we’re gonna go from here.

That’s what was so awesome about Alex yesterday.

We both agreed to take our time, and Alex would, I call it, “getting to the bottom of that recovery” when you really lower your heart rate and everything changes. We established that from the very beginning, and it was awesome.

Alex, I want to thank you for your service. Thank you for all that you do for all of us.

It has been my greatest honor and privilege to be with Alex and all the veterans – and all the trainers. We had a great time, and we’re gonna have another great day today!

Thanks to Nic, too! And yeah, he can have some grass!

Alright – thank you. Bye-bye!

(Alex and Barb wave goodbye.)

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17 Comments on Prepare to be Inspired

  1. Claire on Sun, 6th Jun 2021 1:41 pm
  2. Wow! That is awesome! So excited that you, Barb and Nic got together and had such a wonderful time. Thank-you to everyone for their service! Nic included! 🙂

  3. Cindy Togstad on Sun, 6th Jun 2021 1:57 pm
  4. What an honor Barb to be able to work with Alex. Definetly nothing like being on a cutting horse! A person gains so much from horses. Yes, breathing deep to slow down that heart rate and being in a happy place is everything. Thanks for letting us hear what Alex had so say and Thank You Alex for your service! My son was in Navy Submarines and he to has PTSD. I will keep you in my prayers!

  5. Carol MacGregor on Sun, 6th Jun 2021 2:09 pm
  6. Thank you to Alex, Barb, and Nic for this inspiring Sunday video!!! Alex, we appreciate your selfless service to our county!!! I get nervous when I trailer my horses because I’m just afraid that something will happen. But I think about men (women) like you who protect our county for our freedom and it gives me the energy and courage I need to go forward with trailering. It’s so neat to hear how much you have enjoyed learning to “cut” cattle on well trained “Nic”!! And to hear you describe how deep breathing has just helped you so much to face daily challenges is also helpful and inspiring!!! I’ll try that too. Thank you to all three of you!! 🙂 ps. Just remembering our brave soldiers who fought on D-Day, today marking the 77th anniversary of that historic invasion that freed Europe and helped turn the tide of WW11 !

  7. Terrie Goiney on Sun, 6th Jun 2021 2:09 pm
  8. Such a awesome program and great coaching Barb! Look forward to hearing who the regional youth champion will be pared with you, Alex and Nic! Thank you Alex for your service! Horses are such great helpers, so happy they were able to help you with your anxiety and Nic providing you with some cutting joy.

  9. Cindy Newell on Sun, 6th Jun 2021 2:09 pm
  10. Hi Alex! You are very fortunate to get to work with Barb and Nic. Now you know why some of us are addicted to cow work. Barb, what a great thing for you and Nic to do.

  11. Lee Ann Dolezal on Sun, 6th Jun 2021 3:17 pm
  12. Hi Alex! You are an honorable man, anyone who goes into the military and serves has my utmost respect. Thank you for doing that for us all and me personally. The fact that you’re working with horses is the best therapy anyone can get ( I am biased here). They will teach you so much about yourself. Horses are one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind.
    Best of luck to you in your training and competition.
    Thank you Barb also for giving of your time and talents.

  13. Camille Abbott on Sun, 6th Jun 2021 4:34 pm
  14. Loved this. What a week that must have been and how inspiring for everyone including me sitting here at my computer. I am always humbled when I hear stories like this one. We of the US are lucky to have people like Alex to stand up for us and Alex was lucky to have Barb and Nic to stand up for him. I still remember the first Barbra Schulte clinic I attended. It was my turn to cut a cow, and when I finished, Barb said, “You can breathe now!” I still have to remind myself to breathe though 7 years later I am a little better at it, and now I understand how to use breathing, like Alex, to ground myself. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  15. Laurie Vaughn on Sun, 6th Jun 2021 4:50 pm
  16. Wow Awesome Message today and a great reminder of how powerful OUR breath is!!

    Thank you Alex, Barb & Nic

  17. Patricia Aresco on Sun, 6th Jun 2021 6:29 pm
  18. That was an interesting article and good luck to Alex.

  19. LindaB on Sun, 6th Jun 2021 7:04 pm
  20. Thanks so much, Alex for willingly defending our nation. I am grateful. It’s so good to hear you are enjoying riding Nic! I am glad you have this great opportunity and are having fun with it! Keep breathing 😀, and telling your story. So glad that horses and learning to breathe have given you peace.

  21. meggan hill-mcqueeney on Sun, 6th Jun 2021 7:43 pm
  22. Such a beautiful interview. Thank you Barb and Alex for sharing the message and our mission. You three (counting Nic as well) make an extraordinary team!

  23. Dawn Bl on Sun, 6th Jun 2021 8:56 pm
  24. Barb – Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us. Alex – I am so grateful to you for your service to our nation. I am inspired by you – thank you for sharing how your breathing technique helps to slow the world down. Nic – you are a wonder horse. Good luck to your team in July!!

  25. Jen on Mon, 7th Jun 2021 12:01 am
  26. Thank you Alex and Barb! Hearing about Nick’s breathing, and seeing him do it, reminded me of the saying “slow is the new fast”.
    We need to slow down.
    Thank you for the reminder!

  27. DeAnna Ball on Mon, 7th Jun 2021 5:25 am
  28. Thank you, Alex for your service! Also thank you for learning how to come back. You are an inspiration.

  29. Jan K on Mon, 7th Jun 2021 6:35 am
  30. Thank you for your service Alex—and for sharing your healing experience. I’m glad horses could be a part of that journey. Best to you!

  31. Maud de Flon on Tue, 8th Jun 2021 1:28 am
  32. Hello! I just love this interview! When Alex speak about how he takes a long breath out and settles his mind I really can relate to that feeling. What a wonderful program this must be. I so wish I could be there! Having a horseowning pause and struggling with our businesses in corona this was a glimpse of how life with horses helps you in life.

    Thank you!

  33. Diana on Thu, 10th Jun 2021 8:23 am
  34. Thank you Alex, this was so inspiring!

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