You have to incorporate good horses and horsemanship to be competitive and have any kind of long-term success in this sport. Its just part of it. Young people tend to think only about being a competitor and a winner, and always want to focus on their roping. But the winners are riding the good horses, whether they made them or bought them. Youll notice that at some point, when that horse wears out, they struggle. Its critical that you learn to take care of and manage the good ones. You dont want to burn them out at the small rodeos and little jackpots. Theyre too hard to come by to do that. As your career goes on, you need more good ones. So you need to make them last. The guys whove had success in the long haul have had multiple good horses. Learning how to get green horses finished and how to keep them going and scoring good is key. Sometimes that means hauling young horses so they can see the sights, practicing for your good horse, and having practice horses for you.
Most of us have learned over time that we don’t really have the time to make our own horses. It’s a lot easier to buy one that’s made, load him in the trailer and go to winning, because we’re on the road so much. An exception that comes to mind is Tee Woolman raising and training Megazord. Charles Pogue put the finishing touches on Scooter, as did Steve Purcella with Butterbean. But most of us don’t have the time to make a horse when we’re rodeoing.
There’s an old saying: It’s not what a horse costs; it’s what a horse costs you. In other words, a green horse will make mistakes that keep you from winning, like being afraid of the arena banners, the crowd or the firecrackers. A finished horse, on the other hand, will let you win.
The amount of money you spend isn’t the mark of a great horse. You don’t automatically get a good one just because he’s expensive. I won $12,000 the first week I had Barney. I went from hardly being able to win to being able to win everywhere I pulled up to. That was a good investment. It’s always a risk when you buy a horse. He might seem good when you try him. But the real test is if he fits you when you start hauling him. Everything’s relaxed out in the practice pen. When they string that barrier and turn the P.A. system on is what counts.
To be a top competitor, you probably need half a dozen horses. You need a couple practice horses, and maybe a younger, greener horse that you can bring along in time. You also need two or three good ones. What’s really nice is to have a Scooter (Pogue), Butterbean (Purcella) or Bob (Speed Williams) to ride at the long-score rodeos and ropings, and a Viper (Williams) or a Walt (Travis Tryan) for the short scores. Very few top-notch horses excel under all conditions. Clay Tryan’s Thumper and Travis’s Walt are a couple that come to mind that are good in all conditions. The guys who own those special horses
are going to win consistently.
Any of the guys who’ve been in the industry for a lot of years have to be excellent horsemen to be able to compete at all the major rodeos and ropings all these years. It’s a testimony to their horses and horsemanship to be able to win consistently year after year in all circumstances. Good hands can win on multiple horses.
Young ropers don’t tend to concentrate too much on their horses because they’re totally focused on their roping. Learn-ing how to keep the good ones going is part of success in the long run. Getting the good ones and managing them is part of the equation if you want to try and make a living roping.