The majority of the “Big” events I have been writing about are now behind us for another year. The past week we took a no time in Glenrose, Tx. Thursday night. Friday morning we where up in Austin, Tx. We drove straight from Glenrose and got a good night sleep in Austin. I fed my horse at 6:45 am. and laid back down to rest a little more before the 8 am. slack. I thought Team Roping was last in the slack so I was going to saddle at 8 and ease up there (expecting to rope at 9-9:30). Thank God, Drew text me at 8 letting me know we had drawn steer 380 from San Angelo. (Many times throughout the rodeo season we will know steers from previous rodeos) I replied to him asking if there was a list on the steers. He immediately called me, “Are you up here” he asked? I was standing in the bathroom of the trailer, in my underwear, with my shirt in my hand. I said, No. He said, “we are up, they are running the 2nd team of the team roping”!(we where team 5) I told him I would need to mount out (ride somebody else’s horse) and was headed that way afoot. I grabbed the first pair of pants I saw (which ended up being Drews, Thank God he wears them 3 sizes too big for him!), my boots without socks, and my hat and sprinted to the arena. Trailer parking is a decent ways from the arena. It felt like 1/2 a mile but either way it was too far to “sprint” first thing in the morning. I ran into the back of the arena, and Dustin Davis was the first heeler I came to. He uses a GT4 (the same type rope) as he and I really like his horse. I asked him if I could get on. Stepping off he left his rope, handed me his glove, and gave me a few words of advice. Drew and I where next. I was breathing real hard and my heart was racing. I took a few deep breaths and tried to slow my mind down so-as to react to the steer. Drew spun him off good and I heeled him the first legal hop. We where 5.7 which wouldn’t place in the first round but gave us a chance in the average. I have been going to rodeos for over 10 years now. I have turned out 1 time ever. Every other time I didn’t make it to a rodeo it was a conflict. Especially a rodeo like Austin. My feet are blistered from the run up there, but you better believe that the feeling of messing up that bad will last a lot longer than the blisters. We didn’t catch our 2nd steer. Friday evening we where up in the performance in Bay City, Tx. We where 5.4 which placed 6th. I went to the Ft. Worth Stockyards Sat. night and placed 2nd.
The American is the greatest thing that has happened to rodeo since I have been competing. There are great events like San Antonio, Cheyenne, Houston, Calgary, and the NFR that have been around for years. The American brought a whole new perspective to the sport of rodeo. It was the biggest 1 day rodeo in history, rightfully held in one of the worlds nicest facilities. They used officials from each respective event, and they put the performance together more like a concert or show. The perf was fast, intense, and educational. Here are some fun facts about the facility alone.
The $1.43 billion facility has seating for 80,000.
It boasts the worlds largest “column-free” interior.
You don’t miss much on the way to restroom or concession considering the 3000+ LCD monitors throughout the building.
No need to be scared competing under the big screen, unless you have over 370,000 lbs. hanging from the 180 ft. long high-def unit. The 11,000 ft of cable holding it 25-115 ft. above the field is rated to handle that amount safely.
The arena/field sets 50 ft. below street level so you don’t have to go up or down too far unless your headed to the roof nearly 300 ft. above the field.
The list goes on and on but if you didn’t attend this event I strongly suggest you don’t miss it again!
Sunday morning we had a check-in and meeting. They ran through open ceremonies and the order of events. I left the building and organized my families tickets and passes. For me, the most interesting part of rodeo is the amount of time and energy put into each short run. We work really hard every day (often all day) to compete only a few seconds a week. The time between check-in and competition at each event is the most challenging time for me. Any time I slow down it is crucial that I control my thoughts. Being nervous about making mistakes is believing a lie about the future. I have had both success and failure in “high-pressure” situations. I cannot rely on past success to carry me through the rest of my life. Neither should I worry about past future failures preventing me from having a bright future in this sport. Misses have slowed me down, but never stopped me.
Finally, it was time to rope. I try to focus on the same things in the practice pen every day. If I have a consistent focus in practice it makes it easier to focus under pressure. Cale and I where 12 of 18 teams. The top 4 times out of the 18 progressed to the Final round which payed a staggering $100k each. In addition to that Cale and I where eligible for the $1 million side pot. I have backed into the box a couple times with a chance for $50k but nobody had ever backed in there for $600k. That is, nobody until Sunday the 2nd of March 2014 at The American. It was an unbelievable opportunity. When we roped there had been a 4.2, a 4.3, and a 4.4. We had already talked about trying to leave the arena in 1st. If we moved to the lead 4 out of 6 teams had to better out time which was unlikely. Also the final round was ran slow back. Meaning the fastest single time from round 1 would rope last. We wanted to rope last so that we knew what we needed to do to win the rodeo. Cale got a great start and roped him really fast. I felt like I had real good position to rope him fast but my timing was off a little and I didn’t rope him as clean as I usually do. Due to not roping him as clean as I would have liked, I bobbled my slack and didn’t finish the run as fast as I would like. We where 4.6 and moved into 4th position. We got bumped down one more spot to 5th and didn’t make the cut. I am really grateful for the opportunity.
I have spent my career expecting opportunities to rope for big money at the George Strait and BFI. I honestly never expected to run a Million dollar steer. I’m back in the practice pen this week trying to #RopeBetter. We have 2 major events left the next 2 weeks. The George Strait is March 14-15th and I rope at Rodeo Houston the 16-18th. I’ll keep everybody up-to-date.
Buddy Hawkins II