When you start roping professionally, you can’t just get on horses and rope and get anywhere. You’ve got to have a business plan for you, your roping and your horses.
Roping for a living is more than just talent
It’s a lifestyle and you get out of it what you put into it. It’s a business. To make a good living, you have to do more than just rope. You have to be able to get sponsorships. You have to maintain your horses, your rigs, and be everywhere you need to be as far as entering and trading. It’s very important that you develop a business model or a plan for your career. You have to decide what you want to do and how serious you are about wanting to make the National Finals Rodeo or win a World Championship.
First and foremost, you need to rope good. To rope good, you need to practice correctly. So many people rope 100 steers a day but don’t get anywhere. They aren’t improving their horsemanship and their roping. It’s very important to video and study yourself and study your roping and study your horsemanship. The guys who win over and over for a long period of time ride good and recognize good horsemanship. It’s important that you always work on your horsemanship and your roping.
Sponsorships are a very important piece to the puzzle of being successful throughout a career. Making the NFR one time is not going to do it. People think if you make the NFR you’ve got it made. That’s a myth, not even close. It takes a big-picture mentality. By doing that, the #1 thing you need to remember is that it’s a two-way street. It’s not about going to them and asking for money. It’s about going to them and telling them how you can promote their product and make them money. If you’re somebody who is good for their business, they will appreciate that, and their favor is returned by helping you get down the road, in turn, again, promoting their product.
The big-picture mentality is sometimes one of the hardest things to keep, but it can be one of the most important things in your career. There’s such an emotional roller coaster in rodeo. Horses getting sore, partners changing, flat out winning no money for a long period of time—it can be brutal. Keep the big-picture mentality, and understand that there are going to be hard times, and that you get out of it what you put into it. If you work hard at your horses and your roping and your horsemanship, it’s impossible for you not to turn things around when it’s going South. Attitude—I’ve struggled with it throughout my career—when you’re not winning, and your horses aren’t working, it’s hard to show up with a good attitude. But when you’re working hard and have a big-picture mentality, those hard times will be taken over by good times.
My point is that there’s more to this than just roping and the National Finals Rodeo or big jackpots. It’s a mentality; a business mindset, about being one of the best at what you want to do. Lastly, enjoy what you do. Because if you’re not going to enjoy it, find something else. Rodeo is not for the faint of heart. You’ve got to earn it.