Kaitlin Gustave: You’re sitting second in the PRCA world standings with $41,494.83 won. How are you sitting now compared to last year?
Jake Long: We had a pretty good spell last year because we won second at San Antonio (Stock Show & Rodeo). I don’t know where we were exactly. I think we were in the top five somewhere. I feel like we’ve been a little more consistent this year with our roping. We had a pretty strong winter. We’ve placed in a lot of the averages. We haven’t won first anywhere but we’ve been really solid and made a lot of short rounds. That was kind of an emphasis in the winter was to make a lot of good quality, clean runs and put ourselves in positions to win in those short rounds because they’re so big in the winter time. We were fortunate enough to draw good steers when we needed to and I think we were roping sharp.
KG: What do you have going in your string of horses? Any new ones?
JL: Pretty much the same ones. I’ve rode Colonel everywhere that’s been big. My second string horse, Ironman, has been kind of sore. He got sore right before the NFR so I didn’t get to take him there. It was about the first of March when I got him back so I’ve been riding another horse that I bought from Travis Graves that originally came from Wesley Moss. I’ve been riding him at a bunch of the smaller jackpots around the house. I brought him out to California with me to let Ironman rest up and get ready for summer.
KG: What are your goals for this year?
JL: I don’t know if it’s anything different in goals this year. My goal the last couple of years has been to come in number-one and win a gold buckle, and try to win at all the major jackpots and become more consistent there. For the first time me and Luke (Brown) have both vocally said that we want to win a world title and made that a team goal. We always had it before but we’re actually verbally saying that we want to go after that together. I think that has been a big thing to really unify out loud that that’s what we wanted to do as a team and gear everything that we do towards it--practicing, our mindsets when we get to rodeos. If you can position yourself when you get to the finals in a good spot then it makes it that much easier to hopefully have a big week when you get there. As far as jackpotting, we had a really strong winter. We haven’t had a real great spring jackpotting. As far as that goes you need to try to do good at all the little ones and make sure you’re really sharp and tuned in at the big ones. You can get some bigger checks along the way.
KG: You’ll see some guys at rodeos that don’t take a miss lightly. What do you do to keep your mental game strong when you have a bad run?
JL: That is a hard part out here just because we’re all so competitive. We have such high expectations of our performances when we go to the rodeos so it is a pretty big let down when we mess up. It’s something that I’ve kind of have to battle through personally throughout the years of not being so emotional–at least not trying to show it as much. I’m not perfect at it yet, I still have some setbacks. Really what I try to do is to realize that it’s just a steer, it’s just one mess up and try not let the mess ups snowball into more mistakes and not let it ruin your whole day. You’re allowed to be upset for 15 to 20 minutes and you try to limit it to that so you can get on with your day and get on with the next steer. I think it helps to celebrate others. If your friends are doing good or whoever does good at the roping or rodeo, you try to celebrate with them and encourage them and I think that helps you get over your shortcomings and it’s nice to have that support when you’re on the winning side of it too.
KG: Is there anything that you have been working on to prepare for this year?
JL: I think a lot of it is the same. I’ve been trying to redefine my corner a little bit more and make sure I’m in a little more consistent spot. I’m wired more aggressive so I don’t really have to work on making myself be that way but try to make myself to look for that throw but also make myself be consistent to where if that throw isn’t there I can be smart enough to take one more swing, just understand that just because I didn’t heel the steer right in the switch I still did a good job on him. Mentally, it’s to keep myself encouraged that way.
KG: You won the Wildfire XX this year. Are there any other major jackpots that you have your sights set on?
JL: Obviously, the BFI (Bob Feist Invitational) every year. For me it’s just a personal goal. I’ve never won the US Finals, that would kind of complete my major roping wins. We won third last year and I think we were just a few under from winning it. That would be a big check mark for me. The BFI is a huge roping and with the George Strait roping being gone now–the Strait was a better financial opportunity but tradition-wise–the BFI is the BFI so that’s always one that you want to do good at. I think it would be really cool to try to repeat there so we’re going to try to be tuned in for when we get to that one.
KG: What is it that keeps you driven?
JL: It kind of sounds cliche, but try to be the best team out here. Try to be the team that is winning the most and doing the best. I think that’s what drives me and Luke to work at it so hard. We obviously have a certain window of time that we’re going to be doing this so if we can work as hard as we can and try to win as much money as we can while we’re doing it. It’s a motivation for me to try to capitalize on as much as we can and if I’m going to be away from my family and make those sacrifices then I feel like I need to be doing good while I’m out here.