In late April, all of us in the team roping industry were holding our breaths. We’d seen the Practice Pen Qualifiers take off during quarantine. Things were opening back up and ropings were on the schedule, but we knew people were hurting across the country, including our friends in ag and oil.
Soon, the numbers started rolling in. The first jackpot I went to had 168 teams in a #13.5 Slide on a Thursday night. Then Ardmore happened. Some 2,700 teams showed up at the Ariat World Series of Team Roping qualifier put on by Watson Team Roping, blowing expectations out of the water. The texts shot back and forth from rope makers, hat makers, producers and industry execs, filled with grateful enthusiasm: “We’re back.”
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Throughout May, producers were infinitely flexible, and private arena owners stepped up when public facilities were off limits. Rodeo committees rethought everything they knew about the sport to try to give the cowboys somewhere to compete. Bankers worked with stock contractors stuck feeding hundreds of head of unemployed cattle, providing grace on debt. And ropers, well, you showed up.
It’s such an honor to be a part of this sport you all love with your whole hearts. I think this month’s issue helps fuel that passion—from Kendra Santos’ story on the 2005 NFR team roping, complete with the never-before-told backstory (page 68) to G.R. Schiavino’s profile on the master of horse sales, Steve Friskup (page 60), and Julie Mankin’s breakdown on equine ulcers (page 64).
Don’t forget the little stuff, too. I worry that stories about every-day ropers in the front of the magazine sometimes get overlooked for the fancier features in the back of the book. Take time to sit down with James Watson, of Watson Team Roping, in Santos’ At Home With on page 24. He’s one of the producers who make this whole world go round, and we sure appreciate him.