What do you do when you get in a funk? It happens to all of us. In fact, I’ve kind of been in one of them this year. I feel like I’ve roped good. But there are times you lose your confidence, and the pressure mounts up. You hear people say you’re trying too hard. But I’ve never not tried as hard as I can. That’s what you’re supposed to do. If you’re not winning, you have to do something to change things. I try harder. I practice harder, and do everything in my power to get out of that rut. I don’t care how great you rope. When that funk hits you, you second-guess yourself. You have to be patient. It’s easy to talk. And it’s a lot easier said than done when it’s on you. It’s kind of like a practical joke. It’s funny when the joke’s on someone else. People don’t realize we go through the same struggles they go through. They think the top guys are immune to all this. We put our heads down and fight through it just like everybody else.
As a professional roper, you kind of go through everything when you’re trying to figure out what’s up and trying to turn things around. You look at your roping, your horses and everything else you can think of. One of the ways to get out of a funk is your partner reassuring you, and telling you, “Don’t worry about it, we’ll get ’em next time.” It helps to know your partner’s behind you.
Another one of the keys is not to swap things around too much. We all get to searching for whatever it takes to turn things around. I’ve been guilty lately of changing horses too much. I was roping good, but I was second-guessing which horse to ride and it all blew up in my face. All of a sudden, I’d messed up three times. I rode a horse that was a little too green. The guys that are winning week after week are riding their main, No. 1 horse at all the big ones. I had four horses in my trailer. I’d have looked like a hero if it had worked. But since it didn’t, I looked like a goat and my confidence was rattled
If you’re really struggling, go to the practice pen. I have three horses with me now, so I can make quite a few practice runs and get my confidence back. You can’t go to a rodeo without confidence. I’ve been roping the dummy a lot, too. When you start putting some runs together, you can start clicking again.
The next best thing for me is going to a jackpot. The practice pen is great, but when the announcer calls your name and they stretch that barrier in front of you, everything changes. Pressure runs are good practice, and you get those every time you compete.
If it gets to the point where it’s just overwhelming and you can’t get things turned around, sometimes it’s good to take a break and get away from it for a while. That’s tough to do for a rodeo cowboy. But sometimes just getting away from the grind and the pressure helps. For me, having a family and kids in school, I go home every chance I get. It gets hard when you can’t get home for a month at a time. But sometimes if I can even just take a couple days off, I can come back fresh. Sometimes that’s enough to turn things around.
It always helps to draw steers that are easy to catch, too. It’s kind of like a lay-up, and that’s a confidence booster. If you can draw good, it’s easier to break the ice. There’s nothing better in the world to boost your confidence than winning something. Sometimes just getting a good start, making a good run and stopping the clock helps, even if you don’t win anything. Everyone knows the tough times are coming. You can’t go from January 1st through December 15th without a slump. You just hope it’s not at a crucial time of year. You have to be mentally tough, get through it and back to the other side as soon as you can. Once the monkey’s on your back you have to shake him as fast as you can