Battling Downtime with Ryan Motes
Strategic practice is the key to staying sharp during time off from competition.


Guys who rodeo are used to being in a groove—going head-to-head with the best in the world, day in and day out. That’s really true in a normal year, when we are going to two rodeos a day having to be 4.0. But with the COVID-19 cancelations, we’re facing some of the same dilemmas that ropers with day jobs battle—mostly, struggling to feel sharp when we’re not constantly competing and pushing our speed.

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In a normal year, my practice at home is mostly for my young horses, and for reinforcing things at a slow pace on my rodeo horses. But now, we’re having to make more rodeo-type runs at the house, pushing ourselves and our speed. I’m focusing a larger part of my practice on making aggressive runs, knowing that I need that to feel sharp when it’s finally time to go somewhere.

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No matter if I’m going fast or slow, I do need to maintain position and go out and around the steer when heeling. So, on the runs that I’m not going as fast in the practice pen, that’s got to be my focus. If I want to be sharp when the pressure is on, having my horse in the correct position—whether it’s at the BFI or the American Rope Horse Futurity Association World Championship or Oakley City, Utah—is critical. So, while you cannot make a 4-second run on every steer in the practice pen, you can make sure you’re riding correct position on every horse. That way, they’re set up for success no matter when or where you take them next. 

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