get after it

Maxing Out September Rodeo Scenarios
Knowing when to regroup is just as important as knowing when to go all out.
Dustin Egusquiza and Levi Lord team roping.
Dustin Egusquiza and Levi Lord have been fearless in their quest to contend for the 2023 World Team Roping title. | Phil Kitts  photo

It’s September. Last month of the regular rodeo season, which means most of the rodeo ropers are basically doing one of three things. They’re either all-in contending for a world championship, sticking it out through the Northwest run to put themselves into position to get into the buildings in 2024, or they’ve gone home to regroup for next year. Regardless of which of these three places ropers find themselves in, it’s important to make the most of it. 

That first group looks to have the (Wrangler National) Finals (Rodeo) made. These contender-type teams are trying to hold onto their lead, create a gap and pull away from the pack, or get within reach of having a shot at the gold buckles come Vegas.  

READ: Overcoming Headwinds in the Heat of Battle

What we’ve all learned in recent times is that every team that makes the NFR has a shot at winning it all. Every dollar counts, so it’s just smart business for the highest-level teams to try to add every dollar they can to the earnings column before they get there. 

Whether you’re trying to win your first championship or another one, when you head to the Northwest in contention for a world championship it’s a really fun time. The weather’s nice, and you get to just ease around to a few rodeos and take it a little easier than, say, in July and August. 

By this time in the season, there are a few teams that everybody’s expecting to win. You always have to draw good and rope good to win, but there are some chances to win $10,000, and there aren’t that many opportunities to do that all year long. 

Teams like Dustin Egusquiza and Levi Lord, Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, and Rhen Richard and Jeremy Buhler are pushing each other. They’ve put together a run that’s successful, so they aren’t going to change their game plan on the back stretch. They just need to stay the course and keep it going. 

READ: Nodding Your Head at the NFR

For the guys sticking it out through the Northwest run to put themselves into position to get into the 2024 buildings, it’s probably feeling like a long season. They’ve had a decent year, but don’t have much of a profit margin. The guys who think they’ve won enough to be safe on making the Finals can breathe, but they need to make some money to make it work. 

The top 20 are still scrapping to try and get to the Finals finish line, but the top-40 types are in tougher shape financially. For some, going to a couple rodeos a week is a great way to beat the Texas heat, so they stay hooked up in the Northwest. 

But there’s another path for those just trying to maintain a top-40 spot to get into the buildings next year. If I was 25th in the world right now, I might consider heading home and going to circuit rodeos. You’re going to be battling against the best teams in the business in the Northwest, so it might be a better financial option to go home and win in your circuit with a lot lower expenses. That circuit money counts the same as any other, and it can be easier to win. 

READ: Never Forget Where You Came From

For the guys who’ve gone home to regroup for next year, this is a time for brutally honest reflection and self-evaluation. Time to break down every component of your team and your own roping. This can be a great time to take a young horse to some circuit or amateur rodeos to have him ready for next year. 

If your team didn’t make it next year, is there something you can change to give yourselves a better shot in 2024? Or do you need to think about making a partner change? It’s time to work on your horses, your finances and yourself. 

The financial aspect is an important part of roping at the highest level. Nobody likes to rope scared, so take this time to put some money together. To this day, I work day and night doing everything it takes to make it work. For me, it’s teaching roping schools, which I really enjoy, and buying and selling horses. 

Everyone has his own set of skills he can put to work to bring some extra money in. Time to get after it, whether that means training horses, giving roping lessons, shoeing horses or whatever. When you rope for a living, it’s always a question of how bad do you want it? TRJ

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