For me, one of the most interesting parts of roping and competition has been the ongoing learning process and search for knowledge. Trying to figure out why things work and don't work as they pertain to the many facets of roping is fun. From horses to horsemanship, and the mechanics of roping itself-handling a rope, throwing the loop-every part of it. There are so many different styles and aspects that there's a lot to it. I love to watch good ropers rope. I think roping gets better and better as the years go by, because there are so many people to watch who rope so good anymore. Each individual has a little bit different style. Watching and learning is fascinating, and a place to get knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
Obtaining bits and pieces of knowledge and understanding through watching is one thing. I also get that from talking with different people I respect. It's been another avenue where I've gotten valuable pieces of knowledge over the years that I've applied to my roping. I've used those bits and pieces of information for years and years.
There were a couple instances that really stand out when I think back. The first one happened when I was probably 12 or 13. I was just starting to rope pretty good. I could catch two feet 60-70 percent of the time, which was pretty good for my age and that era. I was really applying myself. But I would hit times of frustration, and there would be days I didn't rope good. I'll never forget a really good friend of mine, Tom Abshire, telling me not to be afraid of those times when I was frustrated and felt like I couldn't figure it out. He told me when I got through it and got to the other side I'd be smarter and have more knowledge of what I was doing.
What that comment did for me was make me press through those times, and really study things and work hard. It made me a person who went after knowledge and understanding, because I wanted to be the best I could possibly be. I also had to survive and put food on the table, so it was a necessity. But it was a valuable piece of information that I still use today.
About that same time, I asked Walt Woodard about the delivery of the loop. He told me to use the bottom part of my rope. He told me to get the bottom on the ground. I immediately knew what he was talking about, and started feeling the bottom part of my loop in my hand and putting all my focus and attention on controlling the bottom of my loop in the delivery process. That was a very valuable piece of information. It took him about five seconds to tell me that, but I've used it for 30 years.
I love to talk with different guys about roping. I talk with Kory Koontz quite a bit and Allen (Bach). They enjoy talking about all the different things that pertain to roping like I do. But I talk in little bits and pieces with a lot of different guys. Some people come and ask me a question here and there, and it might be just a brief interchange of information. I ask them questions, too. My ears are always keenly open, because I pick up bits and pieces from people all the time.
Just a little tidbit here or there, and I go home and try it. Just getting a little different perspective can really add to gaining more insight, knowledge and understanding. You look at all sports, and every sport is progressing because it's built upon layers and layers of knowledge. No sport has topped out. That's why records are continually being broken, and personal achievements keep reaching higher and higher.