Cesar de la Cruz answers Spin To Win Rodeo’s Facebook fans’ questions about everything from roping to relationships to the rodeo road. If you’d like to have a pro answer your question next month, visit facebook.com/spintowinrodeo and join in the discussion.
Jesse Bracamontes: Where do you position your horse when you’re running down the arena? Do you get close or stay out?
de la Cruz: At a jackpot or a rodeo, I position them totally different. At the NFR, I’m going to try to position my horse up the box just a little bit to get a really good start and get a good haze on the steer. I don’t want to get in too close because I have to stay away from the steer just enough, so when he does take his first legal jump, I can throw my rope in. At the BFI, I’ll position my shot a bit wider and let the steer run his own natural pattern. I don’t want to get in too close. It really just all depends on the set up.
Deena Grieves: How do you and Derrick (Begay) manage your differences, and do you always travel in the same rig?
de la Cruz: We do not travel in the same rig. I have a family and have a little boy to look after all the time. I might jump in his rig or a buddy’s rig if we’re going really hard. As far as the differences, we’re about the same age, and we kind of complement each other. We like to go at it aggressive-like and be as fast as we can. Derrick doesn’t say a whole lot, and as far as our problems are concerned, I know if he misses I know to be ready because he is looking to turn it around, and I’m the same way. Whenever we mess up, we don’t really talk a whole lot about it. We just keep making runs. If I miss a couple, I’m not going to miss the third or fourth one. Derrick’s style is a lot like Colter Todd’s too. That’s my style header: aggressive, that still can use his head and be sharp at the barrier.
Chris Arguijo: What are you thinking about when you have that mean game face on?
de la Cruz: All I’m thinking about is getting in position and getting the feet as best as I can. When you get in that situation with all that money and millions of people looking at you, the only way to counteract that fear is to get mad and get pumped up. You see rodeo athletes like bronc riders and bull riders and steer wrestlers get themselves in a different place before they go ride and rope. It looks like I’m angry but I’m actually trying to get in my happy place when there’s nobody but me out there. I’ve got a family to feed and bills to pay. I’m just trying to do my job as best as I can.
Raul Guzman: What has been your favorite moment in your career?
de la Cruz: I’ve had so many. I’m going to have to say winning my first day money at the NFR, the first day money I won with Colter. I went there, and we were doing pretty good, making money here and there. I got the buckle in round 8, and being up on stage was awesome. The most recent would be the Pendleton Round Up this year. I haven’t been that happy after a rodeo in a long time. That transferred onto Omaha, and we roped well there. I know if I can do my job at the Finals, it will be good. Derrick will spin quite a few of them pretty fast.
Tim Belcher: What motivates you the most to try to become the best heeler?
de la Cruz: It was trying to get a gold buckle when I was younger, because in this game you only get paid when you win. So I figured the guys that won the gold buckles were the ones that made the best living out of all of the team ropers. But here recently, my little boy Camilo has been a huge inspiration for me to just try to be better at everything. My family keeps me going. I’m really hard on myself, so it’s always nice to have a family to tell me I’m doing OK and to relax. But the biggest thing is to thank the Lord for the blessings he’s given me. In a recession and with a war going on, I’m doing what I love. That’s my thought when I wake up every morning. I hear of the war going on, and those guys are having such a hard time with all of that negative stuff, and I wake up with my beautiful wife, see my beautiful boy, and go out and saddle horses and do what I love. It’s pretty special and keeps me pretty motivated.