After taking a year to rebuild in 2018 and buying a new horse (10-year-old JLC Royal American, a.k.a. Huey) from Travis Graves, I feel better about my roping than I have in a while. I knew it would have been more bad than good if I rodeoed last summer. If I had tried to go, I would have probably quit for real. And taking a year off took the pressure off needing to figure it out right then for my partner. That was the break I needed.

Roping on Huey showed me what I was missing. My position was so terrible, it’s a wonder I was able to catch anything at all. I’ve roped enough steers and won enough roping that you wouldn’t think I’d be as unconfident as I was. I was so worried about catching the steer that I was literally not even riding my horse.

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I started to watch videos from 2009, and I compared them to my videos from 2018. In the videos from 2018, I would leave the box heading to the steer, and my horse starts slowing down to not run right into the back of the steer, then we have nowhere to go. My horse has to lose momentum to not T-bone the steer. It was a complete train wreck. I was making it hard and having it set up to where I had one shot, and if that one shot didn’t work out exactly how it needed to, it was bad. I didn’t know the person I was watching in the older tapes. I was calm. I didn’t have a worry in the world about catching up to the steer. The steer would turn, I’d be where I needed to be and I’d heel on the first jump.

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No matter what, I have to wait for the steer to turn. I can’t do anything until my header turns the steer. I can’t get sucked into heading to the steer before it’s time. It feels like rubbing your head and patting your stomach at the same time. I have to disengage or I’m toast because, if it does happen fast, I have to have my forward momentum and keep going. I need to not teeter totter in the turn and be going back when the steer’s going forward and be left in the dust. I’m just realizing that what I’m doing is good enough. I can relax a little bit and still be fast enough.

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This is my first shift in the changing of the times and I don’t want to get left behind. It is different now. When I first started, I’d make the best run I could on the first one and build from there. Now, I have to go as fast as I can on the first one. If I’m 8 on the first one, that’s like having a leg and having to get caught back up and, then, I start making mistakes. Now, I try to build it backward—go as fast as I can and, just maybe, I can ease off at the end of the roping. Now, high team has to be faster than they’ve been all day. To me, you don’t have any control because you’ve roped the best roping and then you have to go for the day money like you’re out of the roping. It’s a hard balance. 

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