I'm just coming off of my 25th trip to the NFR (Wrangler National Finals Rodeo), and my goodness, I cant believe I've gone to 25 National Finals. It doesn't seem like that many years have gone by. But here we are again, thinking about the new year and how much were going to go, which rodeos were going to go to, and evaluating whats out there ahead of us. It's also time to decide who would be best to rope with. Sometimes those decisions are the hardest ones. At this stage of my career, the first decision of each year is the decision to go again. Its a long year. Since I'm not roping with Jake (Barnes), the best partner for me is Speed (Williams). He's obviously great. I roped with him a few years ago, and we had a really good year. We did really well at the jackpots and the rodeos. We did quite a few schools, too, and we had a good time. It was fun, and we enjoyed ourselves. So that gives me something to look forward to. It's sometimes been hard roping with Jake geographically in recent years, because he wants to spend time at home (in Arizona) and so do I (in Texas). Its hard when you don't live close together, like we used to. It makes practicing difficult during the times you can be home, and not having the luxury of being able to practice together is tough.
Roping with Jake again the last couple years was great. Jake is a close personal friend and a long-time partner, obviously. I'm very comfortable roping and traveling with Jake. I enjoyed every bit of our partnership. We were very consistent. We caught lots and lots of steers, and winning the NFR last year (in 2007) was really nice. We were rewarded for our efforts of hanging in there and just going and making our runs.
Speed and I live close together. We can practice together, and send our horses in one rig. He and I can fly, and send our horses back and forth with a driver, which makes it a lot easier on us. It's about a 40-minute drive from my house to his, so that'll be very convenient.
Speed and I are going to go to the winter rodeos, and 90 percent of them are here in Texas, close to us. The last time we roped we kind of evaluated as we went along. We did well enough where we didn't need to go to the Northwest during the latter part of the year. We made the Finals, had a good year and got to stay home quite a bit, which was a plus
This is a job. You have to get up and go to work every day. We need to practice hard, and be prepared for what we're going to go to. There are so many jackpots the first part of the year, and Speed has a great jackpot horse. I'm looking forward to the jackpots as much as the rodeos. If you can really capitalize and do well at the jackpots, they pay. It all starts at Odessa, then it's on to the Wildfire, the George Strait and off we go. I like the ropings a lot. I always have. They're the other half of the opportunities we have to run at good money
It wasn't easy for Speed to replace (his standout horses) Viper and Bob. He's got some really nice rodeo and roping horses now, so he's set pretty good. Among his peers, Speed is definitely considered the most versatile roper in his abilities and how he approaches both aspects of roping-jackpotting and rodeoing.
Each season for me is enjoyable. I love the winter rodeos and the jackpots. I like the spring and summer rodeos. We're in the indoor buildings all winter long with similar setups. Then in the spring and summer we move outdoors to the bigger arenas. Each season brings a different part of the country and the different arenas and setups. There are always challenges along the way that make it an adventure. Throughout my career, I've enjoyed all that. The only part that gets to me now is being away from home so much. But if my wife (Alisa) can go periodically, I'm O.K.