Growing up in Canada, you get six months a year to rope. Then it’s very cold, and it’s not very fun to rope in the winter. You might not have an indoor arena close by, and a lot of guys just turn horses out. In Stephenville (Texas), you rope 365 days a year. Rebecca and I, when we were just dating, we were in school. There was an arena in town and steers where you could rent. I’d rope from 10 p.m. to midnight every night. We’d haul them in an hour early to thaw out, then spend another hour waiting for them to dry off. That was one of the ways I could overcome some of that. The next morning, I’d get up and drive to school. That was mentally strenuous. That was the work I had to put in to rope all winter so I could get better faster, instead of taking a couple months off.
I’ve always been a firm believer in not ever quitting what you’re doing if you’re passionate about it. There are times when you need to go home and practice and make sure you’re feeling good, you’re rested and your horses are rested. But I’m a firm believer in staying at it and keeping going. Team roping is one of the biggest mental drains of a sport you can have. You can have so many ups and downs. You have a week where everything you do seems to work out, then you go to the next week when you can’t get out of the barrier and can’t catch a cow.
The mental game needs to be one of the strongest tools you have. You have to work at it as much as your regular roping. Having my daughter this year pushed me to help eliminate mental errors, because now I have her to support. My wife was a huge part of helping me with that. She gave me two books to read: “The Inner Game of Tennis” and “Mind Gym.” Something I read said, “What’s the difference between your best run and your worst run?” Almost 90 percent of the time, the best athletes in the world said the difference was a mental error. After I read that, I realized I needed to spend more time reading through those books and focusing on the mental aspect. It’s as simple as setting up different scenarios in the practice pen to apply pressure on yourself. You don’t go somewhere thinking guys are better than you. If you tell yourself you can beat them, you will win a lot more that way. That mental aspect is going to hold you back.