Humble Beginnings: Advice From Derrick Begay

What Derrick Begay would tell a young roper starting out the same way he did.

Begay working with youth at the 7g foundation roping school in round rock, Arizona. Jamie Arviso Photo

What would you tell an 18-year-old kid in the same spot that you were in when you started rodeoing, without a great horse and without much money?

I was once him, and I know how hard it is. 

Life After Rodeo with Derrick Begay

You have to go. You have to enter. Even though you get your butt kicked, you still have to. You have to figure it out. It sure is expensive, but I have to be the guy who tells the kid to go for it and figure it out. 

You have to learn how to win. You have to learn how to ride your horse. 

Only one guy told me I would never make the NFR. He told me my horse and my partner weren’t good enough. That was a guy who’d been around. He just flat out told me, “You know what, you won’t make it.” 

Derrick Begay: What Would I Tell My Resistol Rookie Self?

I respect what he said, but I knew he might be wrong. It made me mad, and it made me try harder. I could see what he saw, and if you say that to the right guy, he can use it as motivation. But if you say it to the wrong guy, you might discourage him. I remember that to this day, and I’ve seen that guy since I made the Finals and I kind of want to remind him of that time he told me my horse wasn’t good enough and my partner wasn’t good enough. I kind of want to shake his hand and tell him thanks. 

Derrick Begay: On Good Roping, Great Horses and His Uncertain Future in Rodeo

I’d help a kid who wanted it now like I did then—I don’t like to see anyone give up. If it doesn’t work, change something, and if you’re not roping right, change something. But don’t give up.

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