You’d think I’d be prepared when I get to a roping or rodeo. But nowadays, with a growing horse business and a cow deal, I go to 10 rodeos a year. The reality is, I’m not as prepared as I was when I was going day in and day out. It’s more of a mental strain than a physical strain for me as far as preparing myself. I don’t compete and I don’t rope at that level as much anymore. I just rope with my boys. So it’s hard to go from coach to performer. It’s hard to turn on that confidence. I need to remember I had the ability at one time, and that I can keep up with those guys.
Sometimes they’re going fast—so fast. Randon Adams and I entered Odessa this year, and we made two decent runs and were a second off. There was a time when you made two five-second runs, you were winning the rodeo. We were seventh.
Whenever I was rodeoing, I knew what my job was. I had confidence in my ability and my horses. A lot of that is having a good enough horse. As far as team roping horses, I haven’t had that since I lost my grey horse, Goose, last year. I have a bunch of talented young horses but you don’t know what they’ll do every single time. There’s a reason they’re called green horses. I’m trying to stay ahead of them and feel it before it happens. That separates you from being able to concentrate on yourself.
To combat my doubts and help center myself, I spend a lot of time—my wife calls it my zone time—roping the dummy by myself. I’ll rope the dummy 100 to 150 times when I come home from riding and pulling on colts. I go out there, no one else is around, and I get away from everything and concentrate on being sharp with my rope and roping the horns. It’s more of a habit for me I created when I was rodeoing. I get to go out and free myself out of the strain of work and getting my horse and cow business going. I have my hour that’s my time to rope my dummy and think about whatever I want and do whatever I want. My loop is still as sharp as it ever was because of that. I can’t control how green my horse is or how out of practice I am at trying to be four every time, but I can make sure my loop is sharp, and find that one thing to be confident in.