Helping Kids Learn Team Roping

If you have kids, you know how different they can be about everything from likes to dislikes and how they perceive life in general. We all look around at people we know and see how they interact with their kids when it comes to sports. Some make it fun, and others don’t do such a good job in that area.

We live a portion of our lives through our children, and the things they’re interested in. I go to the junior and high school rodeos, and when I look around I see some kids who are really into it and are gifted at their events. Other kids are half-committed and average. And some are just along for the ride, because their older siblings are there and their parents want them to do it. Then there’s the group of kids who aren’t gifted at all, but try really hard. They aren’t very talented at the physical aspects of the events, but give it their all in the effort department. It would take a lot of work, drive and dedication for them to get good at it.I look at all that, and try to learn from watching other people and how they interact with their kids. Then I use those observations to evaluate my situation with my own two children. I try to learn from the good and the bad that I see. For those of you who don’t know us, I have two daughters.Bailey turned 17 in February, and Quinn turned 13 in December.

I try to apply different principles to my children, based on their individual differences. Bailey has always been interested in horses, since she was tiny. She’s always been gifted and good around horses, but in the early going competing scared her. From day one, it was my desire that she’d do the things her mother (Beth) and I did, but I never wanted to push her at all.

Bailey always liked riding with us, but she didn’t want to compete at the junior rodeos. In her first experience at a junior rodeo her horse didn’t work like he did at home. Let’s just say he ran off a little in the barrel race. She was probably 7 or 8, and the competition intimidated her. From that point, I never did push Bailey to enter anything else until she thought she was ready. I took a lot of time taking her through the basic procedures. It was mostly safety-precaution practice for a long time. Before I ever let her turn a steer off I made sure she could control her horse consistently, manage her rope and her slack, and that she was really familiar with all that.When she got more in tuned with the things she needed to do to stay safe, we got to practicing a lot. But I never pushed her to compete. I didn’t want to attach my love for competition to her performance.

Quinn always rode really well, but never had any interest in roping. Again, I never pushed her. From time to time I’d ask her if she wanted to rope. She’d say no and that was it. All I cared about was that she did what she wanted to do.

I spend so much time in the arena when I’m home, so I’d encourage Quinn to come out and ride, so we could all be in the arena together. If she didn’t want to ride I’d encourage her to come out and play, work the chutes, whatever. I travel so much that when I’m home I just want to spend time with them. That’s a really neat part of this industry. It creates a chance for families to be together.

When the girls’ cousin Shelby (Smith) moved close to us, she’d been competing since she was a tiny little girl. That really sparked a desire in Bailey, because she and her cousin were really close. Bailey was about 13 at the time. If I’d ever given Bailey the impression that my love for her was conditional on her performance it could have been an issue with all Shelby’s competitiveness. Luckily, that wasn’t the case.

Bailey didn’t win much her first couple years of competition. There was a lot of disappointment, but she was behind when she started because she hadn’t grown up competing. I made a point of letting her know that it didn’t matter to us if she won. We wanted her to be happy and enjoy what she did. If she had the desire to win she needed to have that fire within, but that was up to her.

Bailey started to really bloom and progress in competition in the last couple years. I saw her expectations build. When she didn’t do well at a couple rodeos toward the end of 2002, she got real bummed out. She got mad or upset, but she still wasn’t really bearing down and practicing as hard as a lot of the other kids do. That was one place I put my foot down. I told her I understood that she wanted to do well, but that winning doesn’t just happen. I clarified again that I love her whether she wins or not. Again, I just want her to compete with a good attitude and enjoy what she’s doing.

If you give 100 percent and fail, you have a right to be disappointed. If you only give 50 percent you have no right to be bummed out if you don’t win. This pertains to all aspects of life. I’ve been able to make comparisons to life, and the same principles that get you through rodeo-working hard, setbacks, applying yourself-prepare you for life’s obstacles. It’s the same process. There will be disappointments, but with the right attitude you’ll get through it.

Being a parent is a delicate balancing act. When they send them home with us when they’re a day old there’s no manual to tell us how to do it. Every day I’m learning. I’ve made mistakes along the way. But the saving grace to my relationship with both of my daughters is when I’ve made a mistake I’ve tried to go back and clarify that I made a mistake. I communicate with them that I’m just trying to do my best as a parent to teach them the best way I know to help them. I’m not perfect, and I don’t expect them to be perfect.

I don’t care if my kids win or lose, but I do expect them to try hard and have a good attitude in everything they do. If you do things right it helps you through the tough times. Every day’s a new day, especially with two teenagers. They’re both girls, and I’m a guy. Every day is new and challenging. What’s really helped me is my study and belief of God’s principles, because He teaches me so many things through my relationship with my kids.

Quinn decided to start roping out of the blue the other day. While I was gone this summer she was roping the dummy with Bailey. She’s never swung a rope much, but she’s so natural with her swing. I’ve only given her a few little lessons, but seems to come pretty easy to her. Bailey’s just outgrown the horse she’s rodeoed on the last three years, so he’s the perfect horse for Quinn to inherit. I want her to make 1,000 runs on the Heel-O-Matic-getting position, getting her slack and getting her dally. When she gets that down we’ll have a header in the family, and Bailey and I will get a lot of heeling practice.(This horse, by the way is the brother of Clay’s great buck-skin horse, Ike. Semi, who was a gift to Bailey from Ozzie Gillum, is 25 now.)

It’s going to be fun for me to take Quinn through the stages of roping and watch her progress to the point where she can compete, like Bailey does. It’s been fun having her in the arena with us. God does truly give you the desires of your heart. When I had kids my heart’s desire was that my kids would enjoy the things I enjoy so we could do things together and have fun together. It’s just a real blessing.

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