Controlling Your Destiny: Game-Changing Habits of the Roping Industry’s Most Successful

Whether it’s in team roping, in business or in your personal life, identifying and creating habits is one purposeful and meaningful way of reaching your goals. We talked to 10 of the roping industry’s success stories—whether that’s in the arena or in business—about what they do every single day that contributes to their achievements. 

Impulse Photography

Patrick Smith

Two-time World Champion Heeler

Game-changing Habit: I make a list every day. 

Why? A ton of people make fun of people who make lists, but I was around people who I respect and who are successful, and every one of them make lists. Every one of them say a list is the only thing that keeps you on track as you get spread thin. Whether that’s ordering ropes, taking a horse to the vet, cleaning my place. Every single morning and every single night, I check off my list and evaluate how I did on my priorities. 

TRJ File Photos

Jake Barnes

Seven-time World Champion Header

Game-changing Habit: I always had the mindset to work hard. 

Why? I knew that’s what it was going to take to be one of the best. I always thought that I needed to have the mindset to outwork everyone. Who knew in the future I’d even rope for a living? But at that point, I didn’t have the experience the best in the world had at the time. We didn’t have our own practice arena, but roping the dummy was my practice. We didn’t have practice cattle or practice horses, but roping the dummy was where I was able to put in the work. 

Joseph Harrison

American Rodeo Champion & Three-time ARHFA World Champion

Game-changing Habit: Get up earlier, stay later, and try harder while you’re doing it. 

Why? The thing that the majority of the world sees is us at the function, with our clean clothes on, our horses cleaned up looking nice and we’re standing around visiting. That ain’t how it happens at home to get to that point. There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that goes into it that the kids these days are missing because their parents can afford to get them better horses. The steers are already there and wrapped and the opportunities are endless—but they aren’t having to work hard enough for it. That did more for me than anything, having to work harder at it to get what I wanted out of it.  

Steve Friskup

Industry-leading Auctioneer

Game-changing Habit: Prayer, meditation and reading my Bible. 

Why? It gives me a forward perspective, a positive outlook and always hope. There’s always so much negativity in business. I think negativity squelches everything. In my Bible, there’s so many life lessons about relationships and putting people before yourself and above money. Attitude, attitudes are contagious. Knowing about the horse: Nobody knows more about the horse than the One who created it. Knowing that the horse is a big part of creation. Finances, Biblical principles of financing. If you can do your business when you’re not overly concerned about your finances, that’s a very good way to do it. 

TRJ Photo

Trevor Brazile

26-time World Champion & $7-million Cowboy

Game-changing Habit: Work on your weaknesses.

Why? Your peers won’t bring out your weaknesses, because they don’t know where your insecurities are. And weaknesses are so easy to hide on a day-to-day basis until you’re really under pressure. You have to be really good with being truthful with yourself. You know what those weaknesses are. So don’t hide them from yourself, and build in time to address them every day in practice.

Kari Decastro Photo

Ty Yost

President of Team Roping Events, NTR, USTRC and WSTR & Founder of NTR

Game-changing Habit: Letting go of grudges. 

Why? I don’t ever take a conversation I have to bed. I don’t really have any grudges. I don’t harbor resentment. I would never begrudge someone else for having a great horse sale or a great roping. One of my greatest successes is being unoffendable. Sometimes I cuss, but then I’m over it. That’s really the truth. It’s something I grew up with from my parents. I never heard them talk smack. The old adage, “Don’t burn a bridge,” is so important. I look for deals that are win-win. I don’t want people to come to my funeral and say I was a pretty good guy. I want them to say I was good to do business with. 

Drew Horner

2014 BFI Champion Header & CEO and Founder of Deliverzen

Game-changing Habit: Doing something active. 

Why? ‘Active’ means exercise for me. But it doesn’t have to be intense—it can be walking. For me, it’s just having 15 minutes of my own time to be alone with my brain. I would never give that up. It doesn’t have to be a workout program—just moving my body in some way that allows me to think more clearly. When Buddy and I were rodeoing, we worked out every day too. I feel like no matter what you’re doing in life, staying active is critical. 

Rich Skelton

Eight-time World Champion Heeler

Game-changing Habit: Working on my horsemanship. 

Why? I spend a lot of time getting my horses to where they’re not pulling on me, stopping them at the right time working them on the machine and, then, carrying that over to slower steers. And then, when you’re actually roping, if your horse wants to pull on you, stop and worry about your horse more than your roping. 

TRJ Photo

Clay O’Brien Cooper 

Seven-time World Champion Heeler

Game-changing Habit: Listening to a Bible teaching lesson to start the day.

Why? My wife and I use that to get centered on the right thing to start our day, and then we head into the rest of the day. That leads into roping, as well. I’ve always sought after the guidance of God for my roping and my horses and the plan of attack. I try to get direction for every little thing that needs to happen.  

Trey Johnson

Resistol Rookie of the Year, Pastor

Game-changing Habit: The realization that everything worthwhile is always uphill.

Why? What I don’t want to have are downhill habits with uphill dreams. I’m always asking, ‘Do my daily habits match my dream?’ For example, I want to reach the world with the Gospel. I want to be one of the best communicators in the world. Yes, I want to be at the top of the game roping, too. My daily habits must match what I say I want and who I want to become. Putting God first is the biggest daily habit that’s changed my life, and I know other people have referred to prayer and meditating the scriptures. But I would have to say the physical part—discovering that taking my physical body, the habit of working out, has been part of discovering the will of God for my life. It’s not only changing the way that I think, but the daily discipline and habit of taking care of my body has been a part of aligning my habits with my dreams.

Charly Crawford

10-time NFR Header & Founder of American Military Celebration

Game-changing Habit: Enjoying the process.

Why? For me, everything was always about making the NFR. If I didn’t make the NFR, I was miserable. I was depressed, I was bummed and disappointed in myself and had self-doubt. Then when I finally made it, it was just on to the next one and the next one and the next one. There was a process that got me there, and I neglected that early on. Now as I’m trying to keep everything in perspective for Kaydence, I remind her that if she works hard, she’ll get there. But she must enjoy the learning process as she gets there so that every day is something she looks forward to doing and not disappointment that you’re not where you want to be yet. I’d have loved to have changed my thought process earlier on that—and it’s what keeps me going now in everything I do. 

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