No matter what level roper you are--whether you're a jackpot roper, amateur rodeo roper or professional roper--you're probably getting ready for a finals of one kind or another as we approach the end of the year. That makes this an opportune time to cash in on the efforts made throughout the year. Everyone wants to be prepared for the big one, so you can do well and cap off the season with success. A lot of the guys I compete around, the ones going to the USTRC Finals and the NFR (Wrangler National Finals Rodeo), have been preparing for those competitions this fall. A lot of your roping-association finals, circuit finals and amateur finals, along with the NFR, are going to be held in buildings with fast setups. But that doesn't necessarily mean you want to rush things.
To prepare for those types of quick setups, you'd think you need to focus on being fast. But because of the arena conditions, everything's going to happen fast anyway. So as far as me preparing for a situation like that, I want my horse scoring good and leaving the box good and strong, and under control. That way, I can set up my position right out of the box and be in the place I want to be as the steer's being turned in the corner.
With that good start out of the box, I can put myself in a place to get a fast shot if it presents itself and also a high-percentage shot. A lot of times you make a run in that situation, it's just as consistent and faster than you'd expect, simply because things are set up to be fast.
The rookie guys comment that they're all keyed up and on edge trying to be fast. A lot of times you run over yourself doing that instead of doing what you did all year. Setting up good position and taking your first available shot instead of trying to be super, super fast is the ticket.
The guys who've been there and done that a few years are more relaxed this time of year. They know you can only be as fast as conditions and the steer you draw dictate, so they don't try to force things. That's typically when mistakes are made. Remember, patience pays.
The basis of my roping foundation, in every situation, is the position I try to set up. If I can do that correctly, I can make an easier, faster shot, because I've laid the groundwork for that to happen.
When preparing for these different finals situations, you want to set your practice sessions up to be as similar to the real thing as possible, including your cattle. When getting ready for the U.S. Finals, you want to rope some fresher, stronger steers, like the ones you'll run there. When getting ready for the NFR, I like to rope some fresher type steers also, because cattle that are strong jump faster and take the corner differently, so it's more of an authentic look at what you're going to see at the finals. Fresher cattle handle differently than those that have been roped quite a bit. Last year was a great roping at the NFR, because the cattle were fresh. But regardless of the conditions or the cattle, in the end the people who are the best prepared when they get there will have the biggest advantage when it comes to winning. Success is all in the preparation. SWR